Our first month in Tanzania has been exciting, draining, beautiful, blessed, challenging, normal, smooth, surreal, hot, and many more things all at once. And it’s been different. Different in many, often small, ways…
We still sit down as a family for dinner, hold hands, pray, and enjoy a meal together. But it’s different. There’s more rice and beans, more tiny little fish with their eyes and tails and everything (which both our boys ate and actually liked), more mangoes and plantains.
We still go outside and play. But it’s different. There’s more sunscreen, more bug spray, a lot more sweat. There are good friends to play with right next door. There’s my “conga” (a piece of cloth) that I tie around my waist every time I leave the house just because women wearing pants or skirts above the knees is traditionally not appropriate.
We still go grocery shopping. But it’s different. There’s a lot of sign language for communication going on. More guessing on how to tell bananas and plantains apart and whether “cooking fat” and shortening really are the same thing. We are starting to build relationships with the local store owners as we come back to shop there.
The boys still go to preschool. But it’s different. They’re experiencing what it’s like to be a minority. They get rice and beans for lunch every day. They call their caregivers “Auntie” and are taught to use their right hand when eating. They learn and play and get dirty with kids who hopefully one day will become dear friends.
We still just live daily lives. But it’s different. There is the necessary filtering of drinking water and sterilizing of fresh fruits and vegetables. There’s the new-and-scary pressure cooker. The occasional power outage. The ever-present fans. The cold showers (sometimes two a day for the boys). The 24/7 Maasai guards outside our home with their traditional garb and new Swahili words to teach us.
We still function as a bilingual family. But it’s different. Elias is slowly starting to speak English again. Judah’s English has a suspiciously German syntax. And both boys are starting to pick up some Swahili words, slowly building a foundation for our whole family becoming a part of the community here some day.
Life in Africa is …different. We are adapting day by day and are grateful that the program we are following here allows us to adapt slowly and deliberately as we become people who can be relevant servants here in Africa. Do you know what all this change and all these differences make us especially grateful for? Our eternal, never-changing, constant God, who is right here with us.