Monday, January 18, 2010

Strangers in a Strange Land

We are about a week into our time in Tanzania and there is already enough to fill several pages, but I will attempt to pick one topic at a time and to go in order. I am sure Liz will also fill in with her top experiences as we figure out how technology works in a different country.
This first few days in the country have been a whirlwind experience as we have been trying to learn our way around, meet all the kids at Angel House, get settled in, and navigate the barrier that not having a common language can be. Our first full day in Tanzania we spent in Moshi, recovering from twenty-four hours of straight traveling and getting settled into the country. As we walked the streets of Moshi (near Mt. Kilimanjaro) trying to get an ATM to work (you have to know which banks are international ;)), picking up a cell phone, and booking plane tickets to Mwanza, Liz and I both started to realize what it felt like to be a minority. We felt an instant connection any time we saw another American (we tend to stick out) or even another white person. As I was processing it later I realized how ridiculous it was to trust someone more because they are from the same country you are from, when we have already met people in Tanzania who are just as trust worthy. That was nevertheless my instant reaction. This may have something to do with other Americans understanding better how lost we felt or it could have to do with the survival instinct of not trusting anybody in a big city, especially when you don’t speak the same language. However, I don’t think ours was a reasoned response as much as it was a reaction of the gut. It was an experience that has already helped me to understand how minorities, especially ones with a language barrier, may feel. It is also a lesson of self discovering and while humbling, it has helped me start down a path of openness to new relationships with whoever I may meet here in Tanzania, including the very helpful pikipiki driver Kennedy who speaks English and whom I met today.

I write this post as just an example of how this trip is going to change our lives and outlooks on life. There will be more to come on kids, Safari, lessons in language, and lessons in life. Maybe it will even include some pictures.


  1. We are glad to see this first episode.
    Keep writing!

  2. Looking forward to see what is to come!

  3. Eric - Now you have an idea why we "profile" everyone everyday! Profiling is not bad as we inhearently do it all the time. It is only the usage of it tht may not be correct. Grandma found out about feeling as a minority when she as UMW President went to an all black church and all sound in the hall stopped when she walked in. You will find many things to think about as the mission trip continues.

  4. We pray each day for you! Miss you both! Rebecca