Recently, Ross and I took a trip to M.’s (our housekeeper) village with M. and her two kids.  We borrowed Caleb and Kristina Meek’s car to drive us all out there.

Ross, M.'s daughter L., and Bibi (Grandmother) in background. All are sitting in the shade of a passion fruit vine.

All the relatives at M.’s house were very hospitable and gracious.  They took us on a tour of their fields, fed us chicken (value of a chicken = 2 days work for the average person); send us home with a huge bag of rice.  We wanted to see the lake nearby, so they took us on a long hike in which we had to wade through the rice patties. Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t a nurse so I didn’t know things like all the diseases that one can get from wading in a rice patty.

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In this picture, M. is laughing at me and saying "Oh, Heather will story this!"

To celebrate the 4th, the whole team got together along with visitors (Lauren’s parent’s and Sarah’s uncle and sister were visiting) and had a cookout.  We all brought additions to the feast, Lauren and Travis hosted, and the Fraser’s grilled.  After dinner, we watched “Independence Day” because the guys out-voted the girls.

Ross and I have been so blessed to have my Mom around for the last week.  As soon as she got to Mtwara, we fired up the blender that she brought us, and she has been helping me come up with all kinds of creative dishes that I can make with local ingredients.  She says that my house is like a cross between “camp and the Swiss family Robinson’s tree house.”  She is doing really well with language learning and already knows most of the greetings.

M. is outfitting my Mom with some African-style head gear.

Last Monday evening, the teammates threw a very sweet baby shower for Ross and I.  We have parents from three of the four couples visiting, so we had a great turn out at the party.  The girls asked us all to dress up, and they set out a table outside in Lauren’s yard under a huge tree.  The table was set with fresh flowers, candles, home-made party streamers hung from a tree, etc.  The set-up looked like something out of a Martha Stewart magazine.  We played games and ate the most delicious dinner!  The whole experience was very sweet and memorable.

Soon-to-be parents! Thank you Downtown members for writing sweet notes of "parental wisdom" that were compiled in a book and given to us as a gift from the team.

The beautiful and delicious food, lovingly made by the team girls! Thanks you guys!

The beautiful table. This looks more like something out of the Martha Steward magazine than Mtwara!

Ross has dubbed the area outside of our front door (under the store awning on street level), where he sits and talks to people, the “hang-out” of the word of God– “Kijiwe cha Neno la Mungu.”  I can usually find him sitting on a bench or a grass mat downstairs at this spot, chatting with neighbors who drop by or the guards who keep 24 hour post at the Tigo store right under our apartment.  Usually, there is a Kiswahili Bible in his lap, and in this posture, he is both learning (language) and teaching (the stories in Genesis).  Surprisingly, our illustrated Kiswahili Children’s Bible is the greatest hit.  I can barely pry it out of someone’s hands long enough to do my hour-long language lesson in the mornings.  But then, of course, I give it back.

Here Ross is wearing a Muslim man-skirt or "msuri"; everyone gets a kick out of that.

–Heather

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