Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Back to Tanzania!

Hey all, We’ll be heading back to Tanzania very soon……..We’re taking off…….We arrived!  There, I just summed up the last few months.  In the whirlwind of preparations, goodbyes, some incredibly sweet times with wonderful people, I failed to keep ya’ll updated.  We actually did arrive in Tanzania over a week ago, and our sleeping patterns are almost back to normal.  It took a while to get over the time change this go around.  AJ’s sister Mona, and niece Josie, drove us to Chicago last Wednesday, where we boarded a plane, which took us to Amsterdam, which brought us to Tanzania.  We made a stop at the Kilimanjaro airport to drop off and pick up passengers, but because all the TV’s in the plane went blank half way through our flight, they needed to try to figure out the problem.  We ended up sitting in the plane for 2 hours in Kilimanjaro (unfortunately it was too dark to see the mountain), and then vacated the plane for another hour, and finally ended up flying into Dar es Salaam about 4 a.m.  DJ and Abel graciously waited from 8:30 pm at the airport until we arrived.   We’ve gotten a house to rent, just waiting for repairs to be finished, and the estimated moving date is the 15th.  For now, we are staying at our coworkers, the Richardsons, as they are currently in the States, getting their first child settled and off to college.  With the house, came 3 dogs to take care of, and of course, they bring some extra entertainment.  Because regular dog food is really expensive here, it takes some extra dedication if you want the benefit of a guard dog.  So, last night, AJ and I went and bought a kilo of disgusting bug infested bones/meat? from the local butcher, boiled it down (smelly!), added a bunch of corn flour, and made homemade dog food.  Hmmmm….not sure if we will want a dog or not.   In other exciting news, we own a car!  We bought a car, sight unseen, from some missionaries leaving, and were already able to get the title transferred, which only took about 5 hours at the Revenue office, a pleasant surprise.  Also, we registered Marissa at Haven of Peace Academy yesterday.  She is excited and nervous for her first time back in a classroom setting in 5 years.  They use the British system, so I’m sure there will be some learning curves.  It will be hard for us to see her off every morning too.  The girls are also excited to be able to use the library, which happened to be open yesterday, so today there are noses in books. 
 Back in the North side, we had some sweet send offs.  We had some really neat times of prayer with our church, friends, supporters, and family.  While in the States, we met some Swahili speakers in Walmart, and found out they attend the Swahili church in Sioux Falls.  One of our last weekends there, we went to church with them.  Afterwards, they introduced us to more of their friends, and they sent us off in prayer and even gave us a money gift.  We were blown away.  We felt like it was a hug from God; He knew how much we would be encouraged by Africans sending us off; Africans who understand what we are leaving and what we are going to—what a big adjustment that is for us.  On the way to the airport, our new friend, Eliud, called us, and wished us a safe and wonderful journey.  Here on the South side, we’re so blessed with wonderful coworkers, and on top of all the work they did to get things ready for us, the meals they’ve brought, it’s just great to see their faces and catch up again.   Another family, the Elis’s came back from their furlough the day before us, so Saturday we had a welcome back barbecue, complete with fun games of capture the flag.  We are looking forward to a big 4th of July party on Monday! 

The next few weeks I imagine we will just be adjusting.  We look forward to getting settled into the house, and for the first time in Tanzania, a house that actually is about our size.  It will be wonderful to have a little more room, plus it comes with night security.  Oh, and I forgot to mention how glad we are to have returned in cool season.  Even cool season, feels a bit warm yet, but we will adjust!  Thanks for all your prayers, we couldn’t be here without you!  Our new address is IVT; c/o Alfred Backes; P.O. Box 60749; Kawe, Tanzania
 The girls helped Grandma Carole and Mona plant a garden out in front of the cabin!
 Most of my siblings and parents met at a Sioux Falls Park to see each other one more time and say goodbye.  Saying 'see ya later' to my niece Rylee
 For years AJ has hoped to make his mom a tree house, and so a few days before departure he built her long awaited 'tree' house
 Goodbye to South Dakota sunsets!
 My Grandpa and Grandma Sybesma.  Grandpa's heart was only partially working, until last month he had a procedure, and this month he will most likely undergo another.  He's doing a lot better, we thank the Lord.  I just treasure the legacy of Christ they have given us.
Our new Swahili speaking friends from Sioux Falls!
 We enjoyed a last trip and went to the Black Hills for a weekend with some Backes family and Sletten family.  
 AJ's aunt and uncle have a cabin near Hill City, and we all met there each day to spend time together.
 The girls were able to meet new cousins, and re-meet others! AJ's newest great niece, Thea Backes
 Hanging around the fire with AJ's brother Rick and his son Stephen's family
 Last evening in South Dakota for awhile!

 AJ planted this perennial garden at the cabin before we went to Tanzania 3 years ago; we're glad we got to see it in it's beauty!
 Sunset over Greenland, on our first flight to Amsterdam
Chilling in Amsterdam Airport
 Maylee and Mya with 2 of the 3 inherited dogs, the girls are enjoying them.
 It's been SO GREAT going to and fro in our own vehicle! Almost every time we get in we praise God.  AJ's a good driver, he's only pulled onto the wrong side 1 time, but I often try to climb into the passengers side, and find myself on the drivers.
 Mallary with Lego and Pebbles
Our temporary home for a few weeks

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Beautiful Spacious Skies

Well, we arrived, like almost 4 1/2 months ago, but all the same, we're back on the SouthDakota prairie.  Does everyone think the land they grew up at is the most beautiful? I love the mountains and the ocean, but the prairie sits well with me, it's just home I guess.  Especially after almost 2 1/2 years away, I seem to appreciate the slow pace of life, the endless starry night sky, and quiet.  There haven't been a lot of huge adjustments, but we have had a few.  It's been pretty fun for all of us to experience life through the eyes of Mya.  It's her first memory of "Merica" and she has had many many comments and questions about everything.  The first being how cool all the automatic toilet flushers, sinks, and hand dryers we found in the airports were, and recently, before going to Sunday School she asked, "Will my teacher be nice and white?"  She loves everything and everyone, even telling perfect strangers important information like, "I'm 4 and I still suck my thumb!" or "One time, we had a giraffe eating our roof." She definitely is our most outgoing one.    We really have had some neat times with family and friends.  The children have been able to do a ski trip & skating party with the local home-school group.  Also, Marissa and Mallary are going to an art class, and Maylee and Mya, go to Story Hour at the local library each week. They love all the books they have access to at the library.  Mallary and Maylee began piano lessons for the first time, and Marissa started up again.  Mallary and Maylee are about to finish up Awana for the year.  We're so thankful for all these opportunities for the girls! I thought I'd take a survey and let my family tell you themselves what they miss about Tanzania and what they like about America:
  • AJ: Misses the people from Tanzania; He likes Americans, snow, and hunting
  • Marissa: Misses our team, the ocean, Swahili, and the unique everyday life experiences; She likes seeing family, the food, weather, and her house
  • Mallary:  Misses Mama Salama, dancing in church, riding in badjajs, our teammates, swimming; She likes seeing her cousins, not having to wear skirts all the time, and having a car
  • Maylee:  Misses her old neighborhood and house; She likes playing in the snow, being with cousins, and Awana
  • Mya: Misses Elliot's farm, Joanna, and Pacey; She likes family, the library, Sunday School, and coloring books
  • Me:  I miss our coworkers in Tanzania, and I miss speaking and hearing Swahili! I have enjoyed worshiping in my heart language and watching my girls experience special times here!

We stayed with our friends, the Andersons, in Wisconsin the first few nights.  Maylee reunited with her friend from birth, Paityn
Marissa getting her hair cut and excited about the Thanksgiving turkey
View from our front porch
     Our church threw us a sweet grocery shower!
       Christmas cookies with cousins at Grandma Karla's
Christmas Morning
Christmastime sunset
        Opening presents @ the Backes Christmas
Fun in the snow!
Painting snow at Story Hour

Maylee learning to ski, she was fearless
Mallary skiing with cousin Sadie
Rollar Skating and Fort Making
Climbing Trees with the Booth cousins in Omaha
A Zoo trip in Omaha with cousins
Mya checking out jellyfish
Bubble blowing and Kite flying on Easter
A March snowman and Mallary trying out her new beam dad put up

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Can't wait for winter!! Say what??

You can ask me in January if I am still excited about feeling cold, but about now, as we start hot season, I find myself periodically singing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." I might be viewing a South Dakota winter through rose-colored glasses.  We are so excited to be returning to the States for our first furlough, which will take us from the end of November to the end of June!  Tickets are bought, and packing will be begin, after I finish this blog post-- heehee. Oh, and it looks like I might be getting my language evaluated too....piece of cake, right? :)
We've heard that missionary's furloughs don't end up being much of a rest, because of all the meetings, speaking engagements, and traveling.  At this point, I really do not understand how I could ever feel that way, but this too, you can ask me later. I hope that our furlough is full of being with people, and spending time with all those we have missed so much.  We do realize we have the luxury of living in our own home, and many of our close relatives and friends live in the surrounding area.  We feel a little spoiled!  The only trip we know we want to make is down to Missouri to visit the church that took care of us while we were in training, and let the girls stomp on their old stomping grounds at the training center.
Here in the Backes house, we're in the school groove.  We're working hard to get as far as we can get before our extended Christmas break.  We fly into Chicago the 20th of November and thinking realistically, we probably will not start again until after the New Year.  I, too, have been able to study Swahili more regularly with our organizations designated language trainer, Lucy, two afternoons a week.  I recently began staying at the office after the 2 hour sessions to study more and listen to my fresh recordings before returning to the craziness of home, and the difference has been huge!  I'm super thankful for this time.  We really enjoy our neighborhood, and I think it will be hard to find a place that fits our needs as well as this location has when we return. I'm trusting the Lord will give us what we need.  The challenge here, has been the smallness of the house, and having only 1 bathroom, along with the toilet being a squatty potty.
And now, some pictures, as of late:
 2 coworkers and AJ went to watch a fellow mission do ministry in a local teachers' college for a couple months.  The missionaries teach the English Grammar Class and the Christian religion class.  In the religion class, they story the chronological teaching, Creation to Christ, and as part of the class they have to practice "telling" someone the story.  Then from that class, they are invited to a deeper level Bible Study/discipleship course outside of class.  For the past several years, these future teachers in the small group have learned how to go out as missionaries, but they are employed teachers.  One of the reasons our mission wanted to observe this ministry, is that we hope to see self-supported, tent-maker native missionaries returning to the places that are the least reached here.  The more self-sustaining the more reproducible.  The last day they went, they actually taught the English Class, because the other organization was having their yearly team conference.  AJ was excited for the opportunity, but slightly surprised he was teaching college students English!  (Shh...don't tell Mrs. Falor--his gradeschool teacher)
 Mya's thoughts on fried squid....
 Packed on the daladalas, is a monthly experience for Marissa.  AJ takes her to the orthodontist, where she's started the braces process.  We were pleasantly surprised to learn that, not only could we do this here, but also AJ was able to finish getting his implants.  He now has a full mouth of teeth again.  He got 4 titanium screws put under his gums in the US before we came, but they needed 9 months to heal, so he just thought he'd have to wait until we were back to the States to get the crowns done. Another perk is that it's SO MUCH more affordable here!  
 All dressed up and carrying things African style
 AJ and co-worker Stephen, went down to the busiest craziest part of the city to buy some supplies, it's a happening place
 Mallary went along to give Mya moral support while getting checked for malaria.  The blue doors behind them is the dispensary.  Her malaria was caught right away, so she bounced back quickly.  So thankful.
 Maylee watching a controlled fire in our little neighborhood.  
 There are a lot of little white kids on our team when we actually let them loose!
 In one of our Friday trips to a local flea market, I actually found AJ's favorite favorite winter hat, and it was even his big size. (for all those brains!)  He was amazed!  Marissa and I, especially like these crazy shopping experiences, Mallary tolerates them.  It's kind of odd we are buying clothes that America sends to Africa.
 Picking up co-workers from the airport after their 9 month furlough!  Always happy to get people back.
 We went back to our favorite beach where we used to live to meet our friend Mama Ruta and help celebrate her friends daughters birthday.  
 It was such a beautiful day!
 Marissa with our landlord and neighbor...we call her Bibi--the word for grandmother
 Every now and then, this guy passes by and gives me a pedicure for a dollar!
AJ accompanied one of our field leaders from South Africa down to Tunduru, for meetings with our co-workers who live there.  On the way, they all had to vacate because the engine was on fire. After a half-hour they were up and running again.  On the way home, the bus hit a car, and it is not uncommon, especially if there is a death involved, for the bus to get stoned and started on fire; street justice is a normal part of life.  Everyone got off, and people had gathered around and were screaming at the bus driver and shaking the bus back and forth. AJ said he did not like being trapped on the bus, as they would not open the door! Everyone was okay, thankfully.
 A guy down in the bottom of a well that Abel helped dig near his house, getting water.
Two Tanzanian guys and Abel will be working on translating the chronological teaching- Firm Foundations into Swahili and a Tanzanian relevant context.  
 A quick shot after a team meeting, missing about 5 adults and a whole passel of kids!
South Dakota's that way!  Actually, we realized recently that Mya thought South Dakota was Kigomboni, where we used to live.  She was excited to move back there, where she left her swing set.  I am eager to watch her experience America, for the first time, as she has no memory, except seeing pictures, and listening to her sisters tell her all about it.
 Just another food picture, see the fish in the middle? (can you tell I'm not a fan of fish, especially when you can tell it is definitely a fish!)
AJ recently flew to Uganda with co-worker Jason, to attend a Discipleship Making Movement conference; flying out over Dar Es Salaam
 A Ugandan home that they were able to minster to, sharing the Story of Jesus, and see the two oldest children trust in Christ. 
Entertained by a bunch of monkeys at their hotel.
 Sarah (middle), was an answer to prayer.  After Bena and Dorcus came to know Christ, AJ was praying for a mentor for them.  The last night on the way back to see Dorcus and Bena, they met Sarah on the bus, and after visiting with her, and learning that she was a Believer, they asked her if she'd be willing to disciple these two girls.  She was so excited for the opportunity, and said she had been praying for a ministry like this, but didn't know how to go about it.  She then went with AJ and Jason to meet the family. She was orphaned as a young girl, and these girls have recently lost their mother.
 Beings we just finished our moon study in school, we just had to get up and watch the lunar eclipse at 4:30 and feed a few mosquitoes in the process.
Mya's smiling, baby Cha might be a little uncertain.  We have three neighbors, who have all had baby girls in the last 6 months.
 Yay!!! Tickets are purchased....see ya soon! Our paper chain is getting shorter fast!