Wednesday, 9 May 2012

KARIBU (kiSwahili "Welcome")

How do you begin to talk about 4 weeks, covering 3 countries and over 3,000 kilometers by road, boat, and plane through mountain, valley, savannah, lake, ocean, and air traveling as four people and interacting with ~100 others along the way? Beats me, but here goes a shot in the dark…

Disclaimer: my camera has a problem and decides to get tired or something and turns off on it’s own which discouraged me from photography these days, but here’s a few scenes. To be honest another excuse is that something about me meeting people the first time as a visitor just doesn’t click with me for taking snaps…I make a pretty lousy tourist I guess, ha. Anyway that wasn’t my goal. So…all that to say forgive me for the scant photographs and I hope I can paint a decent picture for you with words…When/if I return one day you’ll see the faces of the amazing people I met along the way…

Inpatient room in Dispensary at Bumbire Island

View from house on Bumbire Island

One of the Islands residential rather than fishing camp scene (difference from Ssese islands)

Sunrise across savannah (sorry while we were moving) on our way to Dar es Salaam

Jam :)

Dar es Salaam days often went like this...

Zanzibar :)

On our way to pass Mount Kilimanjaro (hidden from view) on the last leg of our driving trip to Kenya...This was a familiar view for Chris and I from the back seat this whole month :)


April 02, 2012—Hit the Road from Najjanankumbi with Chris (my boss), Dale (her husband), and Josh, my travel companions for the next month, toward the Uganda-Tanzania Boarder. After passing through immigration we continued on to a place called BUKOBA where we spent our first night. This began the start of an amazing trip through Tz where we found people they knew at every stop across the country…what a beautiful picture of the impact and importance of investment in relationships over years this side of the globe!

April 03-05—Chris and I boarded a small fiberglass canoe with engine and headed to BUMBIRE Island where they have a lovely home and one of the dispensaries developed through the years of community health evangelism in these islands. A place from which mobile clinics are sent out from as well to other camps. This is also the home of the old float plane which played a large part in the development of the health care and churches. Chris and I stayed there working, organizing, reconnecting, and seeing patients (mostly pregnant women for their antenatal visits) for a few days and then Dale and Josh came to join us and bring their speed boat to take us back to the mainland on the south side of the lake.

April 05—The four of us drove the boat south to KAHUNDA (one of the first sites/camps for island ministry). We spent a night there and explored the fishing camp and community that surround their property greeting people along the way as I stumbled through kiSwahili greetings and trying to pack away my now instinctive oLuganda (kiGanda) language! God did bless me with a few people along the way who new a bit of Luganda which was lovely to be able to communicate and not feel like a 1yr old again!

April 06-09—I accompanied Josh and his brother, Odhi, in their work for the weekend which was to take his SA sport fishing clients on a fishing trip to and around an island called RUBONDO (which is a game reserve island). This was a fun experience as the 3 of us worked together, a bit of a break, and of course fun to learn about engines, boats, and fishing as I helped out as crew and enjoyed the lake. Chris and Dale met us for the last two days of this time as we spent Easter on the island watching crocs and hippos float near the beach.

April 09-12—Dale, Chris, and I returned to BUMBIRE Island to continue some work. While there, an accident occurred that cascaded into a great opportunity for me to learn about and see people playing up a situation all in order to get money from whites…even after knowing them and working with them for all of these years. I learned a lot as Chris and I assessed, evaluated, cared, and dealt with this situation. I also got practice testing patients for HIV, Malaria, parasites, STIs, and being involved in observing and determining treatment for patients in the clinic. Good experience to see how health care works in this new context.

April 12-13—We drove the boat from BUMBIRE to IKUZA, another island where there is an old dispensary that they hope to reopen this year, which we visited along with a pastor who will be moving to this side in between a fishing camp and a residential community. From there we headed back to KAHUNDA again.

April 14-17—We spent the first part of the day driving and meeting the Bishop of the Africa Inland Church of Tanzania whom Dale and Chris have and continue to work very closely with. From there we continued on to MWANZA, the 2nd largest (having said that a quite small) city in Tz. It is along the southern part of the lake and was the initial site where island ministry was based. We spent the weekend there meeting up with a variety of people who are close friends and colleagues and whom they have had a unique array of relational connections with over the years. Again beautiful to meet the faces, hear the stories, and see the importance and impact of relationship, language, and integrated life in this corner of the world.

April 17-21—The morning of the 17th we hit the road before dawn and spent the day crossing savannah and passing through gorgeous mountain ranges to the opposite side of the country by the coast. We reached DAR ES SALAAM in the evening (about 16 hours after starting the drive). The following days we spent in a variety of offices that I never anticipated or dreamed of my feet stepping into here in Tz. Some of these offices and meetings included the Ministry of Health for Tz, the Nursing Counsel of Tz, Shipping and road works offices (in regard to bringing a medical cruise ship to Lake Victoria in the next year or so! More to come on that at a later date I'm sure...), and the Office of the President of Tz. Is this really my life?!?! All I can say is relationships, corruption, relationships, relationships, relationships…Over these weeks and many circumstances that I happened to be around or a part of, I learned an abundance about Tz and East Africa in the way of cultures, government, corruption, relationships, language, caring for the needy, food, life, health, myself, God, and the list goes on…

April 21-24—We took a weekend break away and since we were so close to ZANZIBAR we hopped on the ferry and went there for that weekend, chilled on the white sand beach, swam in the gorgeous clear Caribbean blue Indian ocean water, snorkeled, and walked far out into the seaweed fields to talk with the ladies growing and harvesting it (a huge industry there for the locals in the villages that make up Zanzibar). Such an interesting place…bandas along the beaches set just behind and among native Islamic villages and communities…anyone feeling called to start living Christ out in such a place, I’ll be right there with you!

April 24-26—We returned to DAR ES SALAAM to wrap up some meetings.

April 26—We drove north to ARUSHA where we stopped again to meet a long time friend of theirs and his kids whom we spent the night with to break up the long trip to Nairobi.

April 27—We finished the last leg of the driving journey across the boarder into KENYA and to NAIROBI. I stayed and hung out in Nairobi with the 3 of them at another of Chris and Dale’s homes and visited some of their family members and friends for a few days.

May 01, 2012—I boarded the evening flight home to UGANDA to complete the month long loop of East Africa. In many ways a survey trip and an altogether eye and heart opening experience for which I am very grateful I was able to be a part of this year.

You can see the places on this map, open and click on the link on the left entitled "east african wanderings", but sorry I wasn’t able to easily trace the roads and water-ways that we crossed from place to place! 

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified: do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”


1)     For all of those who support me and God’s work in prayer and finance who made this trip (a big one in heart and mind and maybe even direction) possible.
2)    For my boss Chris, her husband Dale, and Josh who hosted me as we traveled and worked together this past month. I was honored and blessed to have them welcome me into their lives, homes, car, boats, work, history, experience, joys, and difficulties and accompany them as we went day by day and place to place…

“God made you as you are in order to use you as He planned.”-J.C. Macauley
“I will give them an undivided heart
and put a new spirit in them;
I will remove from them their heart of stone
and give them a heart of flesh.
Then they will follow my decrees
and be careful to keep my laws.
They will be my people,
and I will be their God.”

-Ezekiel 11:19-20

In Summary, the truth is, this is what God has been and continues to do in me and this Tz trip was a big step in God showing me the undivided heart He’s forming in me, the new spirit that is not my own, removing my heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh, teaching me to follow and keep His ways and showing me confidently that He is mine and I am His no matter what else…

He’s opening me to things I never thought I would be and even fought and He’s filling me with a spirit of peace about it all no matter how uncertain things appear.
As I write this I have to ask…Is this coming from me?!

Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post, but also thank you for your thoughts and/or prayers as I was traveling. Tune in again soon :) 

Melanie Joy