A Series of Facebook Posts … don’t miss the newsy P.S. at the end.
Post #1 – Aug 11 – Gift Giving and Dancing
We had a wonderful, intimate celebration with our staff and a few friends, marking exactly 10 years since Shirley and I touched down in Tanzania on Aug 10, 2010. Our hearts are full. Check out the video of our staff presenting us with gifts, accompanied with singing and dancing. Stay with the video till the end to see the smooch!
Post #2 – Aug 12 – Four Course Meal
On Aug 10th, we prepared a typical 4-course guest meal for all to eat. Wait to see how our staff did with fork and knife! Many of them have only used a spoon in the past.
Post #3 – Aug 13 – Barbeque … it’s a man’s world!
The beef for the party was courtesy of a Dashir steer slaughtered early in the morning. Our Muslim worker Athumani did the deed, halal style, so he could participate in the eating! Our Maasai guys, expert butchers by virtue of their culture, prepared the cuts. All the guys, expert meat-eaters by virtue of their culture, were in fine form and readily in attendance for the “pre-eating” event.
Chat Show – Aug 14 – Reminiscing about our 10 years in Tanzania.
Post #4 – Aug 15 – Appies
Here is the staff eating appetizers – beef barbeque … what else in Africa?! The cooks are busy in the kitchen with meal preparation of course.
Post #5 – Aug 17 – Guests
We had some friends join us for the anniversary. The first picture is me with our genteel African father Mzee Shikobe who started the lodge and worked with us the first four years. He and his wife Blandina (since passed away) surveyed the area, prayed, suggested the land, and faithfully used our money to purchase the first 12 acres before we came.
Shirley and I enjoyed dancing with our good friends – yes even me! This shy Mennonite boy has loosened up a bit and learned a few moves in Africa! James and Jovita and family graciously hosted us at their house for our first 16 months in Tanzania. It was supposed to be 4 months – only 300% off! The trip to and from Dashir each day was a 16 km motorcycle journey on rough road, down and then up the mountain.
Post #6 – Aug 18 – Soup and Salad
The Potato Leek Soup, now my personal favourite, tasted amazing! The herb bread melted in the mouth, with a delightful savoury kick.
A big surprise was that ALL but one worker LOVED and finished their Grape Sunflower Seed salad. Tanzanians call salads “chakula cha sungura” or “rabbit food.” It is customary for them to eat their vegetables cooked, not raw. This makes sense because many lack sufficient clean water for rinsing, and of course very few families have fridges.
Our small kitchen was a busy hive of activity. Plating four courses for 42 people at the same time is the biggest undertaking yet at Dashir! Shirley thought she was in charge, but hmmm … please don’t tell her otherwise! She was definitely in charge of entertainment throughout. 🙂
Post #7 – Aug 19 – Main: Beef Filet and Mashed Potatoes
The most interesting part of the meal was showing our workers how to eat with a fork in the left hand. For many it was their first time to use a fork! The beef with gravy was simply amazing – tender and tasty. No leftovers for this course!
Post #8 – Aug 20 – Dessert: Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Icing
It was moist and delicious. The day before the party happened to be the birthday of yours truly. It was a pleasant surprise to get some special attention with singing and dancing. All candles were dutifully blown out with one breath – no girlfriends! Just one lovely wife. 🙂
Post #9 – Aug 24 – Fork in the left hand
Check out this video of Dashir workers as they navigate the main course with a fork in their left hand. Not too shabby!
10-Year Party – Post #10 – Speeches – Aug 25
Oh, Tanzanians can really speak at length in public. They always start off by humbly saying, “I have just a few words to say since the time is short … .” Then 10 to 20 minutes later they are still going! This occasion was no different, as the speeches went on for almost 3 hours! It was a touching time of sharing. The passage of time was hardly noticed until the sun started to set, and then people moved into high gear to wind up! As memories were shared, there was plenty of laughing (funny times), plenty of grimacing (tough times), and more than plenty of thanksgiving with clapping (good times).
Simon spoke a mile a minute. Laizer was a stand up comedian as he told the story of my confrontation with him after he threw the burnt beans down the outhouse hole (ed. note: I was just trying to tell him that those beans should have been composted!) Joyce used a man’s voice to describe her first months of cooking at the back house, with the men trying to tell her what to do. It was gut-splitting hilarious! Wish I had that one on video. Joyce can stand up to any man!
The common element in all the speeches was how hard the first months were at Dashir, especially in the early days when we started from nothing. Every worker, regardless of post, has to do at least a month or two probation period of farm work – aka “Dashir Boot Camp.” Especially the Maasai and drivers have a hard time, since farm work is outside their normal regimen. Many said they wanted to quit, but ALL are grateful for the experience and feel proud about making it.
Post #11 – Simon’s Fast Swahili Speech – Aug 27
We laughed as much at his speedy talking as at his funny anecdotes.
Story #1 – Like many, Musa wanted to quit at the beginning of his farm work probation. He had severely sore muscles and a very bad headache from slashing grasses all week. So, he wanted to leave or go get checked at the clinic. I told him just rest a bit and drink lots of water, work lightly and wait 24 hours. He was incredulous, thinking I was trying to torture him (of course he didn’t let me know this). After 24 hours, he was good to go! (Ed. note: I used the same procedure many times with my own kids and students in P.E. classes in school. It was highly successful!) Then, after the first month probation/boot camp, I told Musa he’d done such a good job that I needed him to continue for another month!!! Somehow, he survived that as well, continued as a guard, and then moved into his present post as bartender. He’s the kind of guy you want to tell your life story; a great listener.
Story #2 – Simon talked about his early days at Dashir. At the end of his first week of farm work, he too was very tired and wanted to quit. His money was gone, so he asked me for help with transportation home to Arusha. I was so happy to finally have a driver at Dashir (after 4 years!!!) that I gave him 50,000 shillings (about $30 Canadian). He also was incredulous; this was a lot of money for just transportation (about $2 one way). Simon said to himself, “This is very good money at Dashir!” He was back and ready to go on Monday … and the rest is history.
Final Post #12 – Aug 29
This day was so special for Shirley and I. We shared in our speeches about how much our staff and community have meant to us over the past 10 years. As we heard one friend share recently, “I need Africa more than Africa needs me.” Our hearts were warmed with the staff gifts of T-shirts and a lovely copper plaque with clock.
Our new favourite song says,
“There’s something in those African smiles, makes you feel more than alive.
And if you let this place into your heart, oh you’ll never be the same again.”
You feel it calling. You feel it calling out your name.Africa’s Time – Jeremy Olivier
That’s our experience and many Dashir guests also resonate with this. We are more than grateful and humbled. Ebenezer – Thus far the Lord has helped us!
This 10-Year anniversary has become the catalyst for a new writing project of mine, depicting our African journeys. There are three Acts, each having significant waiting periods beforehand. Act 1 – Separately, before marriage, Shirley (1982) and I (1985) went to Zambia for three months. Act 2 – Together with our kids of 9, 11, and 13 years old, we traipsed off to Botswana (1999-2002) for three years of missionary work. Act 3 – Now Tanzania (2010-present) makes the “trifecta.” If the progression continues, 3 months in Zambia, 3 years in Botswana, we should be in Tanzania for 3 decades! … “kama mungu akipenda – if God wills.” One decade down, and two more to go. 🙂
These are some sneak peak pictures of our first month in Tanzania. Stay tuned for excerpts of our Tanzanian adventure in this space over the coming months.
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Have a nice day! Cheers, Darryl