and another one comes to an end

30 07 2013

Another job, that is. And we are tired of the pattern.

 

To be honest, we were feeling the pressure.  We were being pressured in some very unpleasant ways. Being made to cover costs that should not be covered in an expat job. Unpleasant things being said. But we hoped to hang on for a while longer.  But then, around midday the call came.  The contract is being ended.  You are relieved of duties immediately.

So we took a week. Just a week, to pack up another home, another life and try to look into a future as dim as an African moonless night, far on the plains.

This is the third such pack-up in 14 months. The third redistribution of precious items scoured out in markets, or ferreted into bags on home visits.  The third selling off of what-can-be-sold. The third all-too-soon packing up into bags…

When I was really not ready for it at all.

 

This pack-up has been the worst by far.  I was loving Mwanza. The community, friends and life we led was the richest experience of fulfillment I had experienced in a very very very long time.  I loved being a part of the lives of children in so many activities:

Ballet recitals and school concerts, various Bible studies, grills and potlucks, and the dozens and dozens of meals at Tilapia Hotel.

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Our precious friends.  I loved our friends. My precious ladies who each filled such a special role in my life. The prayer friends, the listen-to-me-moan friends, the lemon-meringue friends, the facebook friends, the art-together friends… How totally blessed we were to learn of this friendship. To step away from that feels like a part of my soul has been ripped apart.

Our precious Tulip dog, who herself struggles with anxiety issues.

Tulip

Tulip was my closest companion. She was never far away, and we felt totally comfortable in each other’s presence. She is presently being taken care of my some friends, and the hope is that we can bring her across to live with us as soon as we have a livable space where she would be safe and comfortable.

Between the loss of separation faced at having to say goodbye to friends, Tulip and the last part, my art classes, I cried bucket loads. I stayed away from the public eye as much as I could because the week of the pack, I was a mush of soggy kleenex and red puffy eyes.

Mwanzart Studio, the blessing God allowed to be birthed in Bwiru, ended far far far too soon.  The precious developing of creativity, developing art talents and simple times of chatting while seated in front of a canvas was a massive privilege to be part of.  I put off cleaning out the studio for as long as I could, and the process was made possible because I had friends sitting with me, I am sure praying through the process.

One of the very sad parts of the process was that this all took place just at the beginning of the summer holidays: so many friends and students were away and we were not given the chance of proper farewells.  At the time I think it may have been just too much for me to do.

So, it took a week to roll up the parts of our lives of this season in Mwanza. We wish to send a hug of love to all those who formed part of our fond memories of this time.  We leave our prayers already prayed for the city to take root, and will continue to pray for the perfect work God longs to complete in the city.

The raw emotions still rise and there is a great deal of sorting and healing I need to do. We are presently at our SA bush house, which is peaceful.

We have very vague plans for this year: we travel to visit family in Sweden and attend a Special Brother’s Wedding.  We hope to road-trip up Africa after that.

 

Then, the big open future.

For now, we bid a sweet farewell to a Lake, the city spread around its fingers and our precious, wonderful friends there.

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a little bit of wet and a little bit of wild

7 07 2013

It has been a bit of a challenging time the last while.  Rather than rant on a blog, the way I deal with things is to go quiet.  So we have not fallen off the planet, but have been dealing with various issues typical of an expat worker. Job issues, health issues and concern over people back at home all keep us deep in thought, busy praying and worrying. 

We have had some time to get away a little, for a night or 2 at a time.

Whitesands is a well developed resort on the Northern coast of Dar es Salaam.  After getting in several hours of malls and shops that sell a range of products, in aisles where you can walk more than 6 steps, it was great to put feet up for a bit.  The wind was blowing and the rest was rather quiet, which gave us a chance to try to rest and be still.

 

So a lovely night away, with the Indian Ocean before our eyes from our room and delicious food on offer at the restaurants was a pleasant interlude from bustle of the city.

We also had a chance to get 2 nights in the Serengeti area.

The absence of crowds of people with all the associated noises was sheer bliss (I had trouble falling asleep at night without the sound of the rotary roof fan to block out all the other noises!) We had a chance to try to catch up on some bird watching, with about 90 species recorded over the time away. 

White bellied bustard, Lilac breasted roller, Ruppell’s Griffon, Usambira Barbet are captured above.  Some other favourites were Verreaux Eagle owl, Fischer’s lovebird and Bateleur eagles soaring across the skies of Africa.  We hope to get a real chance to get more bird knowledge in the future.

Although the main wildebeest migration had already passed through, we got to see some very large herds of 200-300 wildebeest still grazing before migrating.  Seeing this many wildebeest together was very special.

There was also a sense of the drama of the migration. Some herds were attempting to drink, not even cross the Grumeti River.

But they were very skittish and did not get to drink for very long.

Again and again there would be splashes, “hi-hii” ing of nervous zebras and a quick retreat.  Can you see the cause to the right of the brave wildebeest on the right there?

You, YOU try drink what you need for a hot African day with THAT in front of your nose!

 

Here is another huge example of the crocodiles the herds need to contend with on their river crossings.  There was a close snatch, but no successful meal for the croc we saw.

We had our share of sunsets. 

And even a sunRISE.  Yes, Deon and I captured a sunrise. 

Africa does dawn and dusk so very very well.

Alas, we had to deal with some real nasties.  Not all people have the same reactions, and not all are considered so tasty.  But no matter what bug repellents we used, what clothing we wore, Deon and I were both considered good buffet material for TSETSE FLIES! 

These nasty insects choose blue and black over lighter colors. (They bit like crazy through my light beige shirt.)  Deon had over 20 bites, I had over 30 which swelled like mad and itch like crazy.  Apparently Skin So Soft works to deter them.  If people are willing to send us boxes of this product to try it we will let you know if that is the truth.  We can state that no dettol/ water mix, peaceful sleep or other options available here worked successfully. 

It takes about 3 or 4 days for the great itching and swelling to subside, with sudPhoto1125den ankle-scratch dances still called upon about a week after the bites. 

It can also turn into a nasty bruise, depending on where the bite occurred. 

The numerous bites and some other medical concerns forced us to leave our trip a day early. Africa is not for sissies!

Now that I have melo-dramatised the awful terrors one faces in the wilds of Africa, let me move on to some really gruesome sights… (close eyes now if you do not like seeing some gore)

We saw not one single cat hair or predators. We heard a few hyenas in the distance at night, but there was no avenue of big teeth greeting us on the road sides.  There was more than enough for vultures to devour and we saw about 4 carcasses, with no big vulture action around: there is just too much food to be eaten.  It seems like old animals, or animals that trip and fall, or perhaps that get scratched and infected can lie in the veld for a few days before being found by nature’s cleaners. 

As always, the bush provides happiness for our souls. 

We gather our breath and face what lies ahead, reminded that the complexities of Africa: the beauty and the pain, the wet and the wild all work together. And through it all, we can keep on going.  In His strength.