One Last Blog Post

I have been the lead of a chicken coop project at the Hope Evangelical Ministry orphanage. I have blogged about it before. Yesterday we went and helped the volunteer builder finish it up. We spent all day there. I taught the kids a little lesson about taking care of chickens, and they were very excited. Hopefully these chickens will not only make enough money for the orphanage, but teach these kids how to have their own egg business someday if they want.

Robert is our translator. He is so funny and great with the kids. The kids are what it is ALL about.

The nearly-finished coop is behind us, as is Mount Kilimanjaro in the right corner of the picture.

And mom, finally, here is a picture of all of us outside our house.

Tomorrow I leave and fly over that beautiful Mount Kilimajaro to Nairobi, then London, then Miami, then Phoenix. Then one day later I’m going to New York City as an ambassador at a UN conference. I never had culture shock in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Guatemala, Peru, or Tanzania. But I know it’s going to be cultural shock going from Tanzania to NYC. So much electricity!

There is so much to say and no time to type it. My head is spinning with thoughts these last few days, and the smallest things (like vegetable stands by the side of the road) make me so sentimental. It’s so very, very hard to leave. I’m trying to think of good things about going home, and I can’t come up with much more than that I will be in a land where toilets are never holes in the ground. That’s nice. 

Thank you for following this blog! The support of my friends means so much.

Much love,



Refusing to Say Goodbye, and other Ramblings

I never anticipated how difficult it would be to say goodbye. Going to church today for the last time was very sobering as I realized how many friends I have in Tanzania. The branch presidency was reorganized, a missionary being transferred gave a powerful testimony, we had two investigators there who felt the spirit strongly, and the lesson I taught in primary went well. I’m so thankful to belong to a church where I can feel the Spirit strongly in Africa as well as I can in my home ward. I’m thankful that the things that happened in Jerusalem have permeated all the earth and every person I meet, no matter where, all benefit from that great Atoning sacrifice of our Savior and can feel His love. I’m so thankful that everyone can learn for themselves that the Church is true through the Holy Ghost.

I hope I can always remember the people and the scenes here, even when I am back in the US living comfortably. How I wish all the boys selling snacks at the bus station were in school instead, that the children in the neighborhood were not malnourished, that the village of Morombo wasn’t hopelessly littered and so many people perpetually drunk, that women didn’t have to go to church with raw hands from doing laundry by hand, that free primary education meant quality education for everyone, that fathers were involved more in families, that every child had shoes, that Anna who takes care of 12 orphans in her home had someone to help her take care of them, that Neli who is going to university had the laptop she needs so badly. There is so much saving to do, and I lie awake wondering if I’ve really done any of it.  No matter how badly I wanted to make a difference in other’s lives, the biggest difference was made in me. I don’t know how someone can come here and not leave a happier, improved person. After having to walk everywhere on rough dirt roads, how can one complain about having to walk to work on sidewalks or having to drive a junky car? After seeing how almost everyone here gets malaria at some point in their lives, no one has perfect teeth, no one has vision care, how can I complain about an occasional flu or about imperfect skin? I hope I can always remember the discomfort of most of the world that lives in developing countries while I sit in air-conditioned comfort at a wonderful university. I hope I will always remember to live simply so others can simply live, as Ghandi put it.

But even though it may seem like there is a lot of “saving” to do, I believe the answer is to help those in need to help themselves. However, the vicious cycle of poverty and corrupt governments and a variety of other factors make it very difficult, seemingly impossible at times. I’ve really come to realize that while we try to change people’s lives, Christ is the one who changes people who can then change themselves. “The world would take people out of the slums, but Christ takes the slums out of people who then take themselves out of the slums.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Basically, all my rambled thoughts have one common denominator: I have learned so much from the good examples of people here, and I hope I never forget them. I am thankful Christ is always there to help them, and that He can never forget them because they are engraven on the palms of His hands. My friends here are so dear to me and as I am saying goodbye over the next few days I wish so badly I could say that I knew when or if I was coming back. Will I ever be able to wave to Mary who sits on the tire all day long again? Or talk to the enthusiastic Robert who sells paintings in town? What about Terian at church who knows all the answers in Primary even though his parents go to a different church? Who will hold Noel on their lap every Sunday and let him color in their notebook? What will come of Godi, the little boy who runs wild around our neighborhood with his homemade cars and toys? Will the girls in our health class have opportunities to work towards the lofty goals they all wrote down for themselves?

I will miss Anna terribly and her unending optimism, recognition of miracles and God’s hand in her life, and generosity.


Godi, who never fails to make me smile even though neither of us understand a word of the other’s language.

Some of my favorite primary kids. But who am I fooling? They’re all my favorites.

I may be flying out of Tanzania on Wednesday, but I’m not really leaving it.

Kikatiti Education Camp

A few things I haven’t done for nearly 3 months:

  • Been able to communicate with anyone I want.
  • Consumed milk, cheese, yogurt, or Mexican food.
  • Worn a seat belt.
  • Had a hot shower.
  • Been on a date. Or even received a text or phone call.
  • Experienced air conditioning.
  • Been in public without someone starring or yelling at me or shouting, “mzungu” at me.
  • Known when I would be able to have electricity next.
  • Driven on the right side of the road.

Things I HAVE been doing:

  • Projects like this week’s big Kikatiti Education camp!
  • And that list of projects far outweighs anything on the first list.

 Kikatiti is a nearby village that has a lot of needs. They have little water, trash everywhere, and not many people are educated. They also have huge market days where people from miles around come on Tuesdays and Fridays to do their shopping.

We addressed these issues with a week-long event. We offered free English, computer, empowerment, business, music, art, and women’s health classes all week at Titus’s vocational school that is barely surviving because of lack of students who can pay tuition. We hope that those who attended our classes will know about Titus’s school and consider attending.

We also did an environmental clean-up push. On Monday I helped with the trash booth and gave kids treats for bringing us a bag full of trash. They were out there looking for trash as if it was Easter eggs! Even an older drunk guy picked up trash and really got into it. We had a DJ there at the trash pile for the opening ceremonies and all of Kikatiti’s kids (and the old drunk guy) danced with us. Does a Monday morning get better than a dance party in the middle of an African village? I submit it does not.

We taught classes all week, had football and netball tournaments, installed a hand-washing station at the market and taught hand-washing classes. We wanted to unite the community and get everyone excited about education. Friday we had the closing ceremonies at the market and awarded the winning football teams.

 Perhaps the best part of this whole week is that we used local volunteers. Here, when someone says “volunteer” they automatically think of a white foreigner. We know that people here are just as capable, if not more so, of doing what we do. We recruited 5 interested students from a local university and had meetings with them for weeks in preparation. They were our stars all week! They translated and taught classes, designed a logo and t-shirts, painted signs and advertised, and ran the whole thing. It made it a very easy week for the rest of us. We had a great time with them and I’m going to miss them as my friends. It’s people like them that make me realize Tanzania is in good hands and it’s certainly not a lack of capability that causes poverty. When given opportunities, the people here have always shown how bright and able they are to solve their own problems. Thus, I’m thankful to be here with an organization that doesn’t merely give handouts, but helps them help themselves.

This is the handwashing station we put in the market so vendors and those about to eat can wash their hands. People committed to wash their hands and then painted their name on it. It’s not grafitti, but pledges to clean hands!

Me with Joseph and Godlisten, two of our really great and fun local volunteers.

We can make a difference!


Don’t Boil Your Coconut

Once upon a time, six volunteers decided to take a trip to the coast of Tanzania, to a quaint seaside town called Tanga. There they enjoyed nice restaurants and Indian food, went on a lovely sunrise run and saw fishermen on the beach, road bikes to some beautiful caves, and swam in the Indian Ocean which was as warm as bath water. They stayed in the cheap but scenic Inn by the Sea and had a wonderful time. 

Here is the story of one of their Tanga adventures: We had arranged with a tour company to take a boat out to some sand banks and go snorkeling. We packed a lunch and boarded the tiny little boat about 8:30 a.m. They said it would be about an hour boat ride to the sand banks and by then the tide would have gone down enough for the sandbanks to emerge above the sea.

Us, naive and expecting to spend a day snorkeling.


The waves were pretty choppy and I was terrified for the first couple hours. Every time a wave came over the boat my fear was re-newed. But our tour guides were not worried and so I decided to embrace the experience and after that I had a blast. About 2 hours later, the guides said the conditions were bad and the tide would not be down enough to find the sand banks for another hour or two. The waves were getting rougher and rougher, and so we all just asked to go to the closest land. We started back to shore. At this point we were so far out we couldn’t see land. We started back and soon we started going slower and slower. I asked the guy steering the motor, “Are we going to have enough gas?” He said, “Probably not.” I said, ‘What are we going to do?” and he said, “I don’t know.” We all burst into laughter.


It wasn’t quite as funny when we ran out of gas completely and sat there, with the anchor down, waiting for help.  I began to be worried when the guides got worried. They called for someone on land to bring us gas but help was hours away. We waved everything we had and yelled help in Swahili. We sang Beach Boys and Bob Marley (“Don’t worry, about a thing….cause every little thing, is gonna be alright.”) to pass the time. Our guide was throwing up over the side because he was sea sick. We ate our lunch. We got tan/sunburned. We had no idea how long we would be out there, or how help would come. However, there are worse things than being stuck in the middle of the Indian ocean with four friends and four interesting guides who serenade you with Swahili songs, Justin Bieber, and Celine Deon.  Whenever we expressed concern, they would say, “Don’t boil your coconut.” Which means “Don’t sweat it.”


Finally, we saw a sail boat come into view. We waved a flag and yelled harder and they turned their sail towards us. It was three very old African fishermen in an ancient boat. I saw the boat and the men constantly bailing water out of it, and thought, “There is no way I’m getting in that.”

They sailed up to us and we put our anchor in their boat and they pulled us. We went pretty fast until the wind died down and wasn’t strong to pull both boats. Desperately, we jumped into the fishing boat (we left two of the guides in our boat to wait for gas) and teetered towards the shore, where we jumped out and waded about 20 feet  to finally step foot on dry ground six hours after we had left that blessed land that morning.

So, we just went swimming in the waters right in front of our hotel.

One of the best vacation days ever.

Together, our efforts are more than a drop in a bucket!

We have a really exciting project we want to do in a town near the border of Kenya called Namanga. There is a small school called Green Eden that provides children with education to orphans or children whose parents can’t afford it. Without this school the children would not go to school at all. It is currenlty renting space from a local church. The high rent depletes them of their already-small budget. They have started building a school but have no way of completing it. In January they will be kicked out of the church and have no where to hold school–the 60 students will not be able to get an education at all.

 Here is where HELP comes in to save the day! We want to put a roof on the school and finish it.

However, we don’t have the budget to add this to our many other projects. So, we are using the Tipping Bucket to collect donations to be able to finish this school, allowing these children to have an education.  We are able and willing to do the manual labor to do this project, we just need the funds. Through Tipping Bucket, you can donate any amount and your card will not be charged unless we collect the pledges of the whole amount (Change the world or your money back!). If we don’t get the whole amount we won’t get anything. We need $3,500.

I often donate one dollar to various projects that Tipping Bucket sponsors. Anyone can donate one dollar. Please help and donate a dollar or more as soon as possible! We only have 6 days to tip this bucket.

Click here to donate and read the full story:

Thank you so much!

YOU can make a difference. Right here, right now!


Dollar Menu


I will miss many, many things about Tanzania. One big thing is the cheap food! There are about 1500 Tanzanian shillings to one US dollar, so here is a small sampling of what you can get with 1500 tsh:

If you know me, you know fresh pineapple is one of my favorite things.  One dollar pineapples are a dream come true! (Sorry I can’t get the photo to rotate).

Mangoes for 500 tsh each? Yes, please!

Wali is rice and maharague is beans. I eat wali maharague almost every single day for lunch. Almost every restaurant has it, and it’s always 1500 tsh. And it’s always hot and ready in mere minutes. Although hard to realize it now, I will miss $1 lunches of rice and beans.


With a dollar you can also buy three loaves of fresh bread, 15 bananas, or a plate of chips mayai. Mom and dad, you can expect me to make chips mayai for you when I come home. It is basically an omlet with chips (french fries) in it. Mayai means egg in swahili.

The food here has been delicious and a lot more normal than I expected. Last week we went to our neighbor’s house and she showed

us how to make a variety of foods, including chapati which is a flat bread we all love. I also discovered the secret to delicious African food food is that there is oil in everything. Surprise, surprise.


We’re Going Public Health Crazy

June has been public health month, and as a public health major it’s been great to focus on public health in our projects.

  • The chicken coop project is public health in a nutshell because it is educational, will add nutrition to the orphan’s diets, and provide income to make improvements on the orphanage which will advance the health of the children.
  • We are building rocket stoves near the vocational school that we teach at. Outside the school, many women cook food over open fires to sell. The smoke blows in their faces and also blows into the school all day. These stoves are very cheap to build and reduce the smoke drastically. They are also hotter and use less fuel. The women seem pretty excited about them.
  • Annette and I are still going strong with our girls health class. At the same school, we also have been doing a physical education afternoon each week. Last week we did stations and cycled the 200+ kids through stretching, games, and exercises. Somehow we end up way more exhausted than they ever get.
  • We are hard at work planning a 5-day education camp in a very poor village called Kikatiti. We are doing a big push in this area to get the community excited about education, sanitation, and environmental clean-up. Yesterday a few of us met with the district officers about getting the large trash pile removed from the center of town and establishing a way to consistently have trash pick-up. We are going to have trash competitions to see who can pick up the most trash. We are also installing hand washing stations at the huge market there and certifying vendors who come to our hand washing class. Annette and I are also teaching women’s health classes throughout the week. You will hear more about it as we get ready for the event which is July 11-15!

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