After successfully getting our resident visas stamped in our Passports last Friday, David, Chris, Katie, Mabel and I crowded into our Regional Coordinator Joanne’s truck and long time mission Liz Mach’s Rav 4 for the three hour drive north to Musoma for language school. David and I rode with Joanne who has been a lay missioner in Tanzania for over 25 years and for the first hour and half while driving through green fields dotted with mud huts with thatched roofs, we discussed the changes she has seen in Tanzania during her time here. She discussed what life was like in Tanzania while it was a socialist country, how the country has changed since the introduction of capitalism and how things are politically changing as people in Tanzania are starting to become more educated and are “finding their voice politically”. It was a very interesting conversation to say the least.
Halfway through the trip we stopped at a restaurant called the Seregeti Stopover, where we ate lunch and then traded cars. In Liz’s car the conversation was much lighter, most likely due to the fact that for the first 15 minutes of our drive together we got to pass through a small bit of the Serengeti where we all "oooohhhed and ahhhhed" over zebras, wildebeasts and baboons. Our mini safari was cut short though by a torrential downpour that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. There we were squeeling about Zebras (35 year experienced missioner included) when all of the sudden it felt like we were driving though a car wash. It was a very scary 5 minutes of driving, but then as quickly as it rolled in, the rain stopped and we had a peaceful uneventful drive the rest of the way to Musoma.
Since then we’ve spent the last week in classrooms repeating things like“This bug is a mosquito (Huyu mdudu ni mbu) and “This bug is not a mosquito” (Huyu mdudu si mbu). I know it probably sounds boring, but classes are great and we get through a lot of material quickly since the classroom ratios are 3 students per teacher. This ends up being a blessing and a curse as you get all the attention that you might ever want or need in the classroom but you also can’t avoid having to constantly participate. We both cannot believe how much we have learned in a week.
For the next three months we will be living in the dorms in the language school with other students from around the world. It has been very fun experience so far, playing tennis in afternoon with one dead tennis ball and racquets older than we are, watching movies, playing games and drinking beer in the common room and reading A LOT. Meeting the other students has been enjoyable as well. One of our favorite people so far aside from our other MKLM people is a nun named Sister Susan from Chad who loves watching soap operas. David especially likes practicing his French with her. (As if practicing Swahili all day isn’t enough for him)
Language school has actually been quite pleasant so far. The 5 hours of lessons per day can at times be grueling, but we know that they are important. Please pray that we continue to grow in our Swahili language skill as this will make the biggest difference in how well we will eventually be able to connect with the people of Tanzania.