Monday, March 31, 2014

Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo

We began the last week of the term at CAMS today.  The kids are excited and we have been working hard to prepare for the Easter Production.  My Standard 1's are portraying Palm Sunday and are doing a fantastic job!  Hopefully I'll be able to snap a few pictures of them during the performance, or steal from someone who can. 

We are finishing the term on Wednesday on a sad note.  Last week, the bishop of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika passed away.  His death will be a hard loss for the people of Tanzania.  I only had the chance to meet him personally on two occasions.  Even in those brief meetings, I could tell he was a remarkable person.  School will be let out on Thursday and Friday for his funeral.  Click on the picture below to be taken to the Episcopal News Service's article about his life.  You can see he was a truly amazing person.
Almighty God, with whom still live the spirits of those who
die in the Lord, and with whom the souls of the faithful are in
joy and felicity: We give you heartfelt thanks for the good
examples of all your servants, who, having finished their
course in faith, now find rest and refreshment. May we, with
all who have died in the true faith of your holy Name, have
perfect fulfillment and bliss in your eternal and everlasting
glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  (BCP p.503)
Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and
courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to
come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those
without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great
goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with
those they love. And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ
our Savior. Amen. (BCP p. 505)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The power of music

Every Friday, one class at CAMS takes charge of the primary assembly.  I have previously posted about assemblies that I have been in charge of.  Each class presents them a different way, but all of them have the same basic elements.  There is a presentation, usually a skit or song, about something the class has been learning, presentation of merit certificates for one student chosen by their teacher per class, announcing of “Gold Cards” which recognize good behavior on the playground at break time, and the announcement of total House Points (think Harry Potter for anyone not familiar with these.)  Each class presents with their own unique style and assemblies are fun to watch!
Standard 1 students at their assembly during Term 2 

This week, the school gathered to watch Standard 6.  For those of you who have been following along from the beginning of my journey, you will remember that this is the class that I started out with at the beginning of the year.  I got to know the Standard 6’s pretty well during that first term.  I did not however bring my camera this week.  I have been wishing I had all weekend.
They have been talking about music and how it can affect emotions.  On top of the regular things, one of them gave a brief piano performance.  She was very good and it was nice to hear something different happening during assembly.

A bit later on, they gave a performance that nearly brought me to tears, which was really unusual.  Assemblies are normally full of laughter and smiles.  It was really unexpected to have something that was so emotional.  They performed it perfectly.

They told a story, without words, but set to music.  A boy and a girl walked down the aisle together, accompanied by dancing bride’s maids, as is normal in a Tanzanian wedding.  They embraced at the altar and exited the church.  I remembered thinking that the two students would actually be a great couple in the future.  They are both great kids, with funny personalities.
They re-entered, this time carrying a baby.  The part of me that was enthralled in the story was happy for them.  These funny, happy kids I have gotten to know were starting a family.  She went to sit on the floor and he reached down and touched them both on the head, as if he was saying goodbye.  He then turned, walked a few steps, and picked up a meter stick from the floor and carried it over his shoulder as if it was a rifle.
He walked a few steps down the center aisle, between the students there to watch.  Another student came in from the back of the library, also holding his “rifle.”  As it rose, the first boy fell to the floor.  It was at this point that I had to remind myself that we were sitting in the library at CAMS, and that everyone in the room at this moment was fine.  I had to continue to remember this as four other boys, all his classmates, came and carried him to the front of the room, where his wife, some other mourners, and the priest who had officiated at their wedding waited. 
It was a bit of a relief when they got up to take their bow.  Part of me also wanted them to go on.  Encore!!  I was amazed at the seriousness that they had taken in their acting.  How many 10-11 year olds do you know who can act out a wedding scene without laughing or can pick up someone without at least cracking a smile?  They spent no time goofing off and performed with such a seriousness.  It was amazing!

I have seen this story played out before.  You may or may not have seen this done with shadows in this YouTube clip. 
Even though I had seen it before and been touched by what I saw, there was something different this time.  It makes a difference when you can see and relate to the actors in this kind of thing.  I am extremely grateful to be living in a country where the government does not recruit and will not sign up children into military service, but I am closer now than I have ever been.  As I watched the drama go on in front of me, I could not help but think of these kids in real service. 
You don’t expect a primary assembly to give you so much to think about.  It’s amazing the things that help you to realize the real privilege you’ve been given.   I think they made their point.  You don't need words to tell a powerful story.  The right musical background can tell it for you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Living for today

What are your plans for when you get home?

This is the question I’ve been asked with more and more frequency lately. 

I guess it makes sense.  The question I answered more than any other a year ago was “What are you doing when you are in Tanzania?”  I suppose it’s a natural question.  I am moving to another country in roughly 4 months.  Generally people have an idea of what they’re going to do when such a major transition in their life is eminent.  The funny thing is that I have no idea.

I imagine that I will go shopping at some point fairly shortly after I get home.  I will after all need food.  I’m planning on spending a lot of time with my friends and my family.  I will spend a lot of time cuddling with my dog.  I also plan on telling anyone and everyone I can about my experiences.

This is generally not the answer that people are looking for.  It’s not the everyday things I’m going to do that people are interested in.  They want to know what I will be doing with my life.  Will I be teaching?  Where will I work?   To tell the truth, I have no idea what I will be doing. I’m not ready to think about it.

Right now, I’m thinking about teaching 6-year-olds about estimating capacity in everyday containers.  How many cups of tea will that teapot hold?  How many spoonfuls of water will the bowl hold?

I’m thinking about 9-year-olds who have written letters to their pen pals in the United States.  I need to get them uploaded and emailed off. 

I’m thinking about another safari.  Just one day at the Ngorongoro Crater about a week before Easter.  When else will I get to say I saw the Crater twice within a year?

I’m thinking about the mchicha I bought at the market this week.  It is very similar to spinach, but I like it so much better.  Should I have Josephine make something with it this week or should I cook it myself?

My mind is so much here in Tanzania I can barely think of what it will be like going home.  You know what?  That’s ok.

One of the things I have learned in living here is the importance of living in the present.  I am spending as much time as I can taking everything in.  Every single day contains a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Today is probably the only time in my life I will plan a Palm Sunday skit with 5 and 6-year-olds in Tanzania.  Yesterday will quite possibly be the only time I will ever spend part of my St. Patrick’s Day with someone from Northern Ireland in Tanzania.  If I spend too much time thinking about what will happen in 4 months, I will miss all of these things that are happening right now.

I will continue to answer the questions that come my way with a positive attitude.  I would have the same questions to anyone I met.  I just plan on spending very little time thinking about it otherwise.
CAMS whole school photograph.  This is the reason I'm not ready to think about going home.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reflecting on Lent... from around the world!!

You know when someone has one of those really good ideas and you think to yourself, “Of course that’s what we’re going to do.  There really is no other option.”  Well that is what happened with Julie Burd presented the idea of a YASC Lenten reflection blog to this year’s YASC group. 

This is how it works.  Every day one of the YASCers writes a reflection based on that day’s lectionary reading.  Their reflection is posted on the blog that Ashley Cameron has created.  People from all over the world read it.  They gain a little insight into the minds and lives of the YASCer who created it.  Hopefully they close the browser window a little bit different.  I’m not saying we’re miracle workers, but I know we would all love it if even one person is challenged, moved, or relates to something we say. 

As with any blog, there is the option to subscribe via email to get the reflections posted to your inbox every day.  You can also leave a comment if you feel so moved.  I know we would all appreciate it if you were to spread the word and share with your friends. 

So far you can find a post about some of the YASCers and their Ash Wednesday services/celebrations.  The few photos really give you a global view.  There is also a reflection by myself and WillBryant in Hong Kong.  Later today BeckyGleason in Honduras will add her wisdom.  I am overwhelmed by the cool that this is!

Check it out!!  I've added a page with the introduction so you can find it easily.  Just click on the YASC Lenten Reflections tab above.  You can also click on this link and it will take you right to the blog, or you could type into your address bar.  Lots of ways to make it easy!
Got Ashed!

Monday, March 3, 2014

A change of postion, a change of season

I apologize for the late post this week.  I had a busy weekend, mostly related to events surrounding my change of position again.  We talked a lot about the "f word" at YASC orientation before I left.  I've never had a problem with flexibility.  It's probably a good thing. 

I spent the weekend saying goodbye to an amazing lady and friend.  It will be so strange when the apartment next door is empty and we are down one American at CAMS.  She will be missed, for many reasons. 
CAMS staff gathered together for a surprise farewell.

I have moved this week back into Standard 1.  I will most likely be there for the remainder of the year.  I am really excited to be with the little guys!  They are a fantastic class.  I just wish it wasn't because I had to say goodbye to such a great person.

As we approach Ash Wednesday, I find myself getting very reflective.  Several years ago I gave up New Year's Resolutions as my New Year's Resolution.  I have stuck to it ever since.  Instead, I look at the season of Lent as my chance to make a change.  This year is no different.  Maybe I have more to think about this year.

I also have a different reason for being reflective.  This year, an idea has spread among my fellow YASCers.  If you follow this link, you'll find a daily reflection written by some amazing young adults around the world.  Each day during the Lenten season a different YASCer will write a reflection.  Check it out!