Saturday, March 28, 2009

The ride in the daladala from halahala, if you catch my drift....

After a long and very frustrating day yesterday in Arusha trying to get medical exams for Bariki and Elli for immigration it was a really long ride home. Had about a 2.5 to 3 hour trip ahead of us and it was already really late. SO we got on the bus in Arusha and started our journey home. We were at the very back of the bus and I had a 6’6’’ Maasia man in front on me in one of the foldout seats leaning against my knees. But to my left I had a really nice kid who spoke perfect English and had a conversation with me all the way back to Moshi while my daughter slept on my lap and my husband read the newspaper.

When we reached Moshi the normally busy bus stop was totally empty except one daladala going to Marangu. But it was full. Problem being a daladala is never full. So it being our only chance to get home and after some shifting of people we crawled in not really having a choice. So where normally there were 4 people uncomfortably across the back seat there were 4 and two kids. Not small kids either. Then came the row I sat in. If you can call it sitting. Here in TZ no matter your size they fit you in where ever they can. For not being a people of public affection they sure do not mind having their personal space invaded. So I head to nearly the back where there are 3 fully grown adult already and I turn to sit on the fold out seat with no back. Unfortunately my a—doesn’t fit so I sort of sit sideways resting all my weight on my right butt check, my right leg folded under towards my left leg and the edge of the seat ahead of me resting between my joint in my knee. Oh and please don’t forget I had Elli who has grown taller significantly sitting on my folded leg and her dad standing on my left foot.

Of course then came the dilemma of where to put my arm. So twisted and contored as my body was with muscles pulling in places I never knew I had muscles I decided the only place was on the head rest of the girl sitting next to me. So she just rested her head on my arm. Now it was dark, late and raining and the daladala was filled with some very angry people. One man behind me was yelling and a man beside me threw some stuff in every so often. A woman at the front was very verbal and it seemed as though it took an hour before we started moving. It was hot, humid, stuffy and cramped. But eventually we were off. The muscle in my right butt cheek felt every speed hump.

They call them speed humps here; they are bigger than a traditional speed bump that we are used to back home and way bigger than the ones in the old Canadian Tire parking lot in Leduc. They are about 1-2’ high but 5-6’ wide. Back to my story, so I felt every speed hump in my butt, my foot and my knee. We continued to stop and pick people up and drop others off on the side of the highway.

Now by this point I was praying, literally, that God would take away the pain that I was feeling take me away to a nicer more peaceful place. And He complied till I started to shift because now I was cramped, had two people standing on one on my feet while the other foot just lay there on its side pretending it was dead. I by this time had also shifted my arm and the girl was now leaning on it. So in an attempt to move it again and have her shift I stuck in elbow clear down her shirt. My apologies were enough and she sort of laughed it off. Then I remembered that Bariki who was standing the whole time with his side to me was also carrying my purse with a lot of money in it. So I reached through under his arm and grabbed my purse. After a minute I felt a hand come and touch the top of mine. So I grabbed it entwining my fingers in his. He pulled away and so I grabbed his thumb and pinched it. Suddenly the guy sitting that Bariki was standing over said something to him and he looked down. At that point he kindly turned towards me telling me that I had been holding some other man’s hand and to add insult to injury had actually pinched him. Mortified I pulled my hand back laughed out loud and sat like I was a stranger on this bus.

At this point we had turned down another highway where we stopped to let more people out and a few people bought roasted maze. That was nice other then the fact that I did not, I was really hungry and it filled the still cramped bus with the aroma of popcorn. At this point with a few less people and some breathing room the nice gentleman beside us broke off a piece of his corn and gave it to the man next to him. Then he broke off another piece and offered it to me but I motioned that he should give it to Elli instead which he happily did and we were off on our final 12 km to Marangu Mtoni. As I looked around the bus I noticed a man in the back seat making funny faces, not speaking, tapping the seat ahead of him and contorting himself in really wierd postions. So I thought to myself “oh my gosh this guy is choking.” He watched me as I REALLY watched him close and this went on for at least 30-45 seconds. I thought surely if he was choking on roasted corn he would indicate to someone. I don’t mean this to sound offensive and forgive me if it does but how do you look to see if an Africans lips are changing colour or eyes are watering in a dark cramped bus. He continued not making a sound till finally I grabbed his hand and said rather loud, “Are you ok?” He looked surprised and totally afraid of me so I smiled turned my head and continued to watch him in my peripheral vision. The conductor started yelling at him to pay and his face went even stranger finally he yelled something and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. The whole time he was trying to contort his body in a way to be able to reach his wallet. I felt like a total knob and the trip just continued on.

After a few more minutes the bus was emptier and everyone had a seat and was comfortable. A drunken guy moved to the front and started to conduct. Asking people where they needed to be dropped etc. As the lights passed I thought that in my whole life I had never been that uncomfortable for that period of time before.

The guys who hand I held had left, the woman’s whose shirt I stuck my elbow all the way down had left, the man whose life I could have saved if he had actually been choking was gone and as I sat watching the lights of the small businesses along the side of the road go by we came to an abrupt stop. We all piled out, Elli, Bariki and I got into a taxi and traveled the rest of the way home. It NEVER felt so good to sit in my kitchen as it did last night after the ride in the daladala from halahala.

Then there were 2 or were there?????

So after a weekend of goodbyes and a doctor’s visit for me Monday March 23rd rolled around and it was time to say goodbye to my parents. The departure was bitter sweet. Of course it was sad to say goodbye and have them leave me for who knows how long, but on the other hand it was going to be nice to get into a “normal” routine of being a wife and a mom.

We decided to have Elli stay where she was for a short while longer because Bariki and I had one last short trip to Kenya to do before he went back to work. The first night my parents left Bariki did not sleep all night. He paced the house, drank hot chocolate making a total mess of the kitchen, and disturbed me more than once hoping someone else could share in his insomnia. The next he was not feeling well and apparently hadn’t been in a while but thought he was just tired, so he went to the Doctor.
The reason for the heading of this section of the blog was our long awaited time just the two of us ended up being the newlyweds and the two amoebas. So after 3 days straight of sleep for Bariki and 2 days for me because I was diagnosed 2 days earlier our time as a happy no worries couple was coming to an end. We had to make a trip to Arusha.

Then there were 2 or were there?????

So after a weekend of goodbyes and a doctor’s visit for me Monday March 23rd rolled around and it was time to say goodbye to my parents. The departure was bitter sweet. Of course it was sad to say goodbye and have them leave me for who knows how long, but on the other hand it was going to be nice to get into a “normal” routine of being a wife and a mom.

We decided to have Elli stay where she was for a short while longer because Bariki and I had one last short trip to Kenya to do before he went back to work. The first night my parents left Bariki did not sleep all night. He paced the house, drank hot chocolate making a total mess of the kitchen, and disturbed me more than once hoping someone else could share in his insomnia. The next he was not feeling well and apparently hadn’t been in a while but thought he was just tired, so he went to the Doctor.
The reason for the heading of this section of the blog was our long awaited time just the two of us ended up being the newlyweds and the two amoebas. So after 3 days straight of sleep for Bariki and 2 days for me because I was diagnosed 2 days earlier our time as a happy no worries couple was coming to an end. We had to make a trip to Arusha.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Octopus, Lobster, Calamari oh my.....

After a couple days of relaxing minus an amoeba that my dad caught we were off to Arusha for a day of shopping and a sleep over at my friend’s house, Margaret and Philemon. My mom got to experience shopping in the famous market that my dad always tells her about. She loved it, I was surprised. I actually thought that she would hate it, having to bargain for everything and everyone wanting to pull you here and there so you could come in their shop and “look for free.” But I was wrong and by the time I finished shopping with her she was a vicious bargainer and really had a great time. It really is a very different world. I told her she had to be careful because after this experience when she shopped at Walmart and the lady told her the total she would want to look at her and offer her less. I’m not lying that is how I felt when I got home the first time I was here. Anyway after a nice night with my friends watching the “God’s must be crazy 1 and 2” and listening to everyone laugh it was time for bed. The next morning we had to be at Compassion Tanzania at 9:30 so that I could see my sponsor child and my mom could meet hers for the first time. It was great. We spent about 4 hours or so with them and my mom really enjoyed it. Next time she will have to go to their house on Mount Meru and get the full experience.

The following day we off to Dar es Salaam and then to catch the ferry to Zanzibar the next morning. Our first 2 days were spent in Stone Town. My mom loved the architecture and the carvings of the big beautiful doors. My dad liked the market on the beach when the sun went down. This market is really neat. It has stand after stand of people serving every kind of seafood you can imagine, plus Zanzibar pizzas which are my personal favourite and finally sodas and sugarcane juice mixed with lime and ginger. There is something about this place, whether it is the atmosphere or the food it is just a really great place to hang out.

The next day was a tour of the Sultan’s ruins, a spice farm and the House of Wonders. The ruins were interesting to see a bit of Zanzibar’s history. I always enjoy the spice tour where you get to learn about spices obviously. But I always find it interesting that with most spices you use the root or the bark but the leaves themselves when they are crushed a little smell exactly like the spice when it is used in our homes. My favourite part of the spice tour is when a tiny man climbs a 100 ft palm tree with his bare hands, bare feet and a rope to cut you down coconuts to drink the water from. All the while singing at the top of his lungs and hanging upside down from the tree.

That afternoon we went to the House of Wonders museum and then to a small Italian pizzaria where we watched the sunset over the Indian Ocean.

So I just have a few more statements/questions about honeymoons. Does it constitute a second honeymoon when you are still with your parents and they are in the next room? When it is so freakin’ hot you don’t want to be in the same room as your husband let alone the same bed? When you snorkel to long and get sunburned again but way worse because now it is over your entire body causing what you think is sun stroke but it ends up being an amoeba? Then to add to it all when you are finally feeling well enough to let anyone near you let alone your husband you get a cold sore on your lip the size of Connecticut? But aside from all that I had a really great time.

I swam with the dolphins which is totally different then doing it in the Caribbean. Here they take you out to the middle of nowhere in the Indian Ocean. They find a family of dolphins and you jump in. It was awesome. There were times I was surrounded by 50 dolphins at once not quite close enough to touch but close enough to make me feel like I could. It was really the most amazing experience. I loved it and would do it again and again. Next time I will be better with my snorkel gear though so I can dive down with them.

I wanted to learn to use the snorkel gear so I spent a few hours that morning after the dolphin outing in the water before the tide went out. It was great to see all the life down on the ocean floor. At one point I had a tiny yellow fish with black stripes swimming under my belly and every so often he would come up in front of my mask to say hello. The first time he did this though I was so happy I smiled which changed the seal on my mask and I got salt water in my eyes. That hurt like a mother but before long I was back swimming along with my little friend. This is when the incredibly bad burn took place. I will snorkel again but not without some seriously high spf waterproof lotion.

The highlight of that day though was how much time my husband spent in the water, due to the fact that 8 hours earlier he was petrified of the water. But once introduced to a life jacket (even in 4 ft deep water) he loved it. We even went to a neighbouring hotel during low tide and he swam around in the pool for hours with his life jacket on and his snorkelling gear. It was really cute.

It was a fantastic time in Zanzibar and when it was all over everyone wished we had another couple days. But it was time to head back but this time we flew. Bariki went on an airplane for the first time. Not a big one but he loved it. We are praying that he is able to ride on one to Canada soon.

And then there were 4 or were there......

My world exploded the day my parents and Amber and Eric arrived. I went instantly from one person in my house to 5. That was an adjustment but I enjoyed having people around to talk with and laugh with and play cards with and to talk me down when I was stressed about the wedding. So after Safari Amber and Eric were going to be with us 3 more days then travel standby to Portugal to finish out their vacation. So Sunday the 8th of March we packed up their stuff and headed for a day in Moshi and then to the Airport to drop them off. We said our tearful goodbyes and prayed that they made it on the flight.

Amber kept asking the lady if the flight was full and if she figured they would get on it or not and after 2 hours, some rudeness and a lot of text messaging it was final. They would not be leaving that day and they were heading back to Marangu for another night with us. They had found out in their previous night of hell that there were 64 empty seats for Monday but that they were overbooked by 9 seats for Sunday night. So when they arrived the taxi driver (which you negotiate price with here) upped the price by 10,000 shillings which I refused to pay and they were off to bed once again in my house.

The next morning we were more confident that they would get on the flight and we arranged a ride for them to the airport. One last day in Moshi and they were finally off to Portugal. SO now there were 4.

More of the honeymoon....

As I was looking through pictures to place on the blog I realized that I had not told you anything about the actual Safari except the crappy stuff. So here it is, it was really good. Lake Manyara was awesome minus the sunburn. We saw giraffe and elephants, hippos and zebras. We even saw warthogs and a whole lot of my personal favourite (if you were with me you could hear the sarcasm) baboons. It was a great first day.

Our second day was in Ngorongoro crater. The drive into the crater was beautiful and for the first time I saw two big male lions down in the crater. It was as though they were just waiting for us. At lunch my dad unpacked his lunchbox and suddenly without really even knowing why his egg was on the ground. Out of the corner of my eye I had caught the action. It was a bird that looked comparatively like a hawk back home. So I thought this was funny and I picked up the egg to tell the story. I got half a sentence in and the egg was gone. When I held it to tell the story the bird came in and grabbed it right out of my hand. I screamed like a school girl and ran into the vehicle. Ya ya, not at all my bravest moment. The crater was great to because it was baby season. So it was filled with zebra babies, wildebeest babies and babies of every kind. They were so cute.

Lastly we went to Tarengire National Park, the land of the elephants. Once again it was an awesome experience. We drove through a herd of maybe 30 or 40 or even more elephants, babies and all. It was spectacular.

So that is the experience on Safari aside from not feeling well it was great. Experiencing safari with my mom for the first time made it so special. Watching Eric enjoy it when he was not sure he would always made me smile. Amber loved it and my dad always does, but mostly experiencing it for the first time with my husband made it beautiful.

Some of the gifts......

Sometimes I forget where I am then something totally funny happens and I remember I am definitely not in Canada anymore. Remember now that whoever gave us gifts had to do it through dancing towards us and then they were able to shake our hands. So it was time to open the gifts and we decided to open the cards first. There were a lot of cards and envelopes. 2 of the cards were not written in, so that is awesome I get to reuse them. 3 or 4 of the envelopes were empty, which just made me laugh. Plus we got an I Owe You for a goat from one of his uncles. And that was just for the cards and envelopes :)

After that we decided to open the wrapped gifts. Bariki’s friends bought him a pair of shoes and someone else got him a shirt. I thought it was so funny how the wedding gifts were almost more like birthday gifts. Till I got a pair of shoes to and that made me happy and not feeling so left out. It was almost as thought the people I invited got gifts for me and the people that Bariki invited got gifts for him. Not all gifts of course, we did get the traditional unmatching bowl set, some mugs and even glasses. We got a rope which indicated a cow. We also got a juicer which I am excited to use. Then our final gift which we took a picture of us opening was the greenest roll of toilet paper that I have ever seen in my life. That was our gifts a cow, a roll of toilet paper and everything in between.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Is it actually a honeymoon if you spend it with your parents, another couple, a broken toe, a bladder infection and a sun burn so bad your husband has to sleep in a totally different bed so he can’t touch you? Ummm, I hope not.

Safari was wonderful. We saw some really amazing things. But the first night was a night from a place I never want to visit again. You see the night of the wedding we stayed at a place called the Banana Jungle Lodge. It was awesome. The food was great the rooms were these individual traditional Chugga huts with a great big bed. It was fabulous. So the lady told us they had another lodge overlooking Lake Manyara which happened to be our first stop on our “honeymoon”. They said they would give it to us at the same price which was a really good deal for us. So we agreed and the arrangements were made.

The day at Manyara was great and we were all looking forward to a shower and a comfortable stay at a beautiful place. On the way we realize that I really burned my back on Safari that day, so I was really looking forward to it. When we arrived we looked at a single dwelling with one bathroom and three rooms. The power was out to the cabins which were nothing like what we had stayed at previously but we could move into them once the power was on. Oh but after 6 we could not move between the buildings because of the animals around, specifically lions. Or we could all opt to stay together in the one main house, which is what we ended up doing. I showered first due to a sunburn and buy the time the last person showered it was merely a drop or two of water.

Off to bed we all went, Amber and Eric to the hottest loft they had ever stepped foot in, Bariki and I to the same room but separate beds and mom and dad to their room which they shared with some very large insects, one of which was under my dad’s covers. I was so uncomfortable I went to have a shower in the middle of the night with not a drop of water, not even enough to flush the toilet. So my new husband who could not come near me went and got a cold glass bottle of coke out of the fridge and placed it on my burn.

In the morning we watched the sunrise over Lake Manyara totally forgetting the hell we went through that night and might I add totally worth the cost of admission. Or was it? When we went to pay the bill they had charged us double, charged us for things we did not drink and even after I asked them to lower the price (you can do that here) because of how uncomfortable we were, they refused. And off we went for day two. In the end the old grandma came to her senses and said she would return some of the money. It is 2 weeks later and that is yet to happen. I will keep you updated.

No chips, no chapatti, no rice......

My Kenyan family loves cheeseburgers, especially my dad Pastor John. So we decided to take them to the Marangu Hotel for supper that night. We had heard that they had the best cheeseburgers in the area. So off we went for cheeseburgers and chips. When we arrived it was just after 6, like just after 6 and we read on the menu that cheeseburgers and chips were served till 6. So we asked if it was still possible to order them. The answer was yes and that is exactly what we did. About a half hour later the waiter came back and told us the storage room was locked and the man with the key had gone home. So we could still have cheeseburgers we just had to pick rice or chapatti to go with it. Once we had all decided what we wanted we told him. He came back and sadly said there was not enough rice. “Fine” I said getting a tad annoyed now, “we will all have chapatti”. “Actually, we don’t have chapatti either.”

The short of the long of the story is my husband ended up going to town to buy chips and bring them back to a restaurant in a hotel to eat them with the cheeseburgers. In the end there were no chips to be found because where he went had no charcoal for cooking. This gong show ended with cheeseburgers from the Marangu hotel and fried bananas from a totally different place.

The bride and the broken toe....

Not every bride wakes up on her wedding day with a toe that matches her wedding colours pink of every shade, cream and a bit of purple. Well today is the big day that I have been anticipating my whole life, or at least the last half of it. Today is the day I get married. And all is going great aside from the broken toe.

Neema went to get her hair done early this morning. As I started to wonder around the house I looked out the door and saw something strange. At further investigation I found a gate covered in balloons, ribbons and huge sign reading “Congratulations Jenny and Bariki”. It was done by the German girls and the Finnish dentist from next door. It made me smile, what a great gift. And we have everyone coming here for 10:30 to take some pictures before the ceremony.

Having Bariki see me for the first time was everything I could have hoped for. He said I looked beautiful and he felt as though he could cry. African men DO NOT cry. So the thought of it made me happy. I have never been so hot in my life as I was today. It had to have been at least 30 above. My poor husband sat all day outside under a covering at least in a three piece suit. I only had to wear a 20 lbs dress.

After pictures in the morning Bariki had to go back to his house for a blessing from his family. This gave me a chance to breathe and cool down. Cool down meant a fan on full and me lifting my dress. Yes we have pictures. Some final preparations and touch ups and the word came that the car was here to pick me up and Bariki was waiting for me at the church. I was still totally calm till I walked through the gate and saw the wedding car all my bridesmaids and groomsmen (which play a very different role here then they do back home) and a 7 or 8 person brass band. Then my throat hit my stomach and I was nervous. I got in the car, the band started playing and the bridal party started to dance around the car. Yes dance. I felt excited, overwhelmed, nervous and a little scared. I was getting married and I had a parade to prove it. The parade included a vehicle for my family, my car, a truck for the brass band and finally a safari van with the roof up for all 12 of my bridal party. People lined the road and cheered and I was off on my 1 minute 30 second drive to the church give or take a few seconds.

At the church there was more trumpet playing, more dancing around the car, the veil went over my face so no one could see me and then it was time. We proceeded to the door of the church all together, had a bible reading then in went everyone and my dad walked me down the aisle. At the front my mom joined us and both my parents gave me away to the man of my dreams. The ceremony was long and a little boring to be honest, but when the time came my super quiet, super shy fiancé spoke out his vows really clear, really loud and in perfect English. I was so proud of him.

After the ceremony we had to rush a parade of vehicles and people again to his house where they did a blessing for us. Then it was a quick ride to the reception. The decorating at the reception was really beautiful, a whole crap load of pink but beautiful none-the-less. The reception was very different than any I had seen before. There was Champaign for us and everyone else had to walk by us and clink our glasses. Then a member of each family had to introduce all the important people that were there from each side. We then had the cake ceremony, first the 5 tier cake and then the two goats.

Even the gift giving is very different. When it is time for the gift giving at the wedding everyone brings up the gifts individually via dancing. That’s right in order to bring up a gift and shake our hands you had to dance your way to the front. Some traditional dancing took place and some all out just for fun dancing to African Music. Then it was 7:30 at night and I was exhausted. The reception started at 3 I should probably add and by 7 it is totally pitch dark.
So exhausted, over heated, and don’t forget with a broken toe we headed off to the hotel where we would spend the night. And the rest is none of your business...

The big day before the big day...

I had been picturing this day for months, a day to finish a few, very few, final details, a rehearsal then a quiet dinner and an evening with my mom, Amber, and my matron of honour Neema. Man was I wrong.

So after a day of organizing rides for everyone I love to get here to the wedding I went to get my nails done for the wedding. It was not as relaxing as I would have hoped. I also would have hoped that it would have not taken so long but almost three people later and over three hours I left to go back to the house not knowing if anything was getting done here. Now the organization of people being picked up, buying shoes, fitting dresses and pulling out hair the day continued on.

4 o’clock rolls around and we head to the church for a rehearsal, which by the way is totally unheard of here. The Pastor said they just expect everyone to know what to do. She finished though with she would be happy to do one for us because she wanted me to feel as comfortable as possible. I was really grateful.

Now back to the house to prepare a tiny meal for my parents and friends maybe 8 people. As I realize that the size of my quiet dinner is growing and I am frustrated because neither the best man of the matron of honour made it to the rehearsal I scurry around the house to get things ready. While all the while being followed around by a video camera recording my every outside thought for sending people to get things in town and at the market. Then it happens. I smash my toe on the corner of the wall and start to cuss. Eric comes out thinking this might be a good thing to get on tape and decides me stubbing my toe was not worth turning the camera on for. Till a few minutes later when I realize I had not just stubbed my toe but I had actually broke it. Who does that?

On top of everything else my quiet evening turned out to be a huge dinner party where 20 people show up at my house. This is crazy. So I am trying to serve drinks, cook my part of supper (the meat I ordered from the hotel Bariki works at), host people, try not to freak out because I’m actually getting married tomorrow and do this all with a really broken toe. One woman said, “What are you doing? It is tradition that you stay with someone for a week before the wedding so nothing like this (broken toe) happens.” So I replied, “If I had stayed with you would you have gone to the bathroom for me to because that is when I smashed my toe?” I thought I was being smart till she asked me if I was wearing in door slippers (flip-flops) when this happened. Then I sheepishly replied no. Needless to say the rest of the hosting, cooking etc was done for me I was not allowed anywhere near the kitchen. Which was nice but I stilled had 20 people scattered throughout my house.

Finally it was time to sit with the girls and laugh and chat. Or on the other hand it was finally time to go to bed. I’m getting married tomorrow you know.

Long time since posting...

For those of you that are following the blog I’m sorry that it has taken so long to post another entry. I have been very busy with wedding plans. When I look back over the 2 weeks since the pre-marital counselling I am lost for words. It has gone so quickly, I really don’t even know where the days disappeared to. After pre-marital counselling my focus was on the next committee meeting and then the arrival of my parents and Amber and Eric Pauls.

The committee meeting went well and even though we have not reached the original budget there is more than enough for a really nice wedding. The other differences here with weddings is the fact that it is now 4 days before the wedding and we are still giving out the invitations that were only printed a week ago. This is a totally normal practice here. It is also 4 days before the wedding and we do not have my fiancĂ©’s suit yet, or the ties for him and the best man. We only just booked the room at the hotel we are going to stay at and I am sure there is still much that needs to be done.

This is how crazy it has been and the way my mind has been in many places at once. I was totally convinced that my parents were arriving on Feb. 20th so that is what I planned everything for. I had planned for the transport, the hotel, everything. So on the morning of the 19th I was traveling in a bus to Arusha to pick up the vehicle that we were going to rent 4 two weeks. And I got a text message from my dad telling me that they were in Amsterdam. I was excited until I realized that if they were in Amsterdam they only had a two hour layover and then an 8.5 hour flight to TZ. As I processed the text message and some basic math in my head the realization hit me that they would be in TZ in 10 short hours. 24 hours ahead of when I had made all the arrangements for. Wow how quickly my excitement turned to terror. I was stuck in a hot bus, with no time on my telephone to make any arrangements and a really long way from making them face to face. In the end God knew when they were coming and worked everything out for the hotel. Imagine my mom’s first time in Africa and I don’t even show up at the airport to pick her up, Terrible.

The stresses the week before a wedding are many. I can’t imagine doing it at home where I would actually have to participate on a large scale, meaning do everything. There are still 3 dresses to be made, three pairs of shoes to be bought, eye brows to be waxed, nails to be done, parties for me to go to, invitations to be given out, money to be collected and all of this while my husband is still working up to 2 days before the wedding. Some of you might think but all your other blog entries said how bored you were why did you not do these things then? Well my friends that is a really REALLY great question. The answer is simple; I did not know they needed to be done!

I have survived the last week only in the care of my beautiful maid of honour Neema, my future sister in law, who did not even get mad when I told her the dress she had made would not work and needed to be changed. That’s right, she is great.

At the following meeting the committee was trying to figure out what to do with people they call gate crashers. We would call them wedding crashers. They are people that come and do not know either the bride or the groom and just want to drink soda and eat dinner for free. So there was a ten minute discussion about which gate crashers to allow in and which to turn away. No final decisions were made, they will be made tomorrow at yet another and final committee meeting 3 days before the wedding, including who will get invitations.

In the culture here they do something called a send off party. During this party the bride’s family and friend “send her off” to be joined with the groom. So yesterday my friends in Arusha threw me a send off. It was not a big party but it was amazing. Two vehicles carrying 21 people from Marangu went including 3 people from the committee and some of my in-laws. My friends are from the Massai tribe and so if I am their sister then I am Massai. They dressed my up in the most beautiful Massai get up and they party began. It began with introductions and then a cake ceremony. Because they could not find a goat Margarette made a regular cake. My friend Amber and I were surrounded by women singing and dancing and then sat before everyone. I had to cut the cake and then feed her a piece and she had to feed me. This was met with much cheering. Then I had to pick Bariki out of a crowd and feed him a piece and he had to feed me. I was amazed that so few people could make such a loud noise. I then fed my parents, his parents and this other couple who I really don’t even know who they were.

Then came the shaking of hands which is actually the giving of gifts, the Massai women gave me two straw brooms which are about 2 feet long. I got two pieces of fabric worn when cooking and cleaning and also two pots for cooking. They were to teach me how to be a proper African wife. Then the Chugga women brought in this really long piece of fabric brought in wrapped it around Bariki and sang a song in Chugga to as a sign that they were excepting me into the Lyimo clan. It was really nice.

Pre-marital counselling

What a totally awesome experience. It was 3 days of staying in the most peaceful place I think I have ever been to in my life. The last morning we were there we got up early met outside and watched the sun rise over Kilimanjaro which was crystal clear. There was not a single cloud in the sky. The counselling was really great. It was done by Pastor Daniel whom I really enjoyed being with. We laughed; we cried it was truly overwhelming. We learned from each other and prayed for each other. Some things I totally agreed with some I needed to let go of. I learned about African culture in marriage without Christ (which is still held by some) and the African culture within a Christian marriage.

Examples of this are that if you never get married you are not respected or even recognised within the community. So you cannot just chose a life of singleness. Then if you do get married and do not have children you are not recognised within the community. If it is due to infertility on the man’s part you sneak your wife away in secret to spend “time” with your brother. If it is barrenness on the woman’s part you find a sister in law that you can “be” with and then she simply gives you the baby. That one is slightly harder to keep secret. Now it is getting a bit better as women are becoming more and more educated. They are more career oriented and the realization that they may hold a place in this world other than in the kitchen is being accepted more in the younger generation.

Now as for their perspective as Christians it is said that God created marriage to cure the disease of loneliness. There should be solidarity in marriage and total transparency. The Christian marriage can be broken down in two words God and Love. Marriage is a sacrifice and a commitment; it takes contributions from the man and the woman. Marriage takes respect and patience. Then came the section I had only heard rumours about and did not even believe it existed, the section about sex.

I was surprised when he began to teach about sex and the way the male body works compared to the female body. They teach that because here in Africa there is absolutely no sex education. It is taboo to even bring up the word sex in conversation, which is part of the problem with the spread of HIV and Aids. If you are unable to talk about how it is primarily spread, then how are you able to teach people how to prevent it? Pastor Daniel has invited me to come and preach at his church about God’s opinion of pre-marital sex to his youth group and young adults after the wedding. I believe it is important to promote abstinence till marriage not condoms or even worse nothing at all. Here in Africa if you take no preventative measures at all you are playing Russian roulette with your life. The rate of infected people here in Tanzania is 6.5% which out of 100 does not seem too bad until you realize there are 37.6 million people in TZ. Meaning 2,444,000 are infected with HIV/AIDS. Sadly enough there are many many more countries within Africa that are way worse than TZ. It is predicted that in Kenya 4 out of 5 deaths of people between the ages of 25 – 35 are AIDS related.

Sorry I know my blog is usually more light hearted I just wanted to teach you a bit about the place I am living and encourage you to pray for change.

All in all the counselling was great. We learned about each other and the way we deal with certain things. We learned about dealing with conflict and hurt. We also had to write down our expectations of each other. This was really good. Bariki had to tell me exactly what he expected from me as his wife and I had to do the same for him. All of our expectations were Christ centered and within reach. Meaning it is not going to take either of us to be the perfect person or mate to fulfill these expectations all it will take is God’s help and grace.

In closing this section I will tell you some of the quotes I heard this week that encouraged me and touched my heart. “A happy marriage is a union of two forgivers.” Anonymous. “What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life, to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories...” George Elliot.