Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Day of New Experiences

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It’s Ciara’s birthday!!!  Two years ago Ciara spent her birthday in the Brazilian Amazon on an SMC Jan Term trip and now this one turned out to be equally spectacular and memorable.  See more on this subject further down in the post. 

And in other important news we actually uploaded text and pictures from camp this morning!  Might be a Sunday usage thing, but maybe we have found a way through the hassles of internet connectivity.

We headed off for church after breakfast with Wilson, the leader of the village where we are doing our water work.  He told us that church was 45 minutes away so we were bracing ourselves for a much longer walk because we have noticed that Tanzanians’ sense of a short easy walk sometimes differs from ours.  In this case, though, Wilson had asked us to leave early to give us time to meet the pastor, cool off and catch our breath before church.  We got there about 20 minutes early and wandered the grounds a bit before the service began.

Wilson sat us in the front few pews so we were quite noticeable in our presence there.  As is often the case when attending services in country other than one’s own, we noticed that much of the structure of the service felt familiar even if we didn’t understand what was being said. 

Two things that were different for us, though, were 1) much of the service was sung in a call and response manner and 2) the singing was more awesome than most that we have heard in churches back home.  As for the first point, we loved the song-and-chant based approach to the service, as it helped us enjoy it even more than we might have based on the fact that we don’t speak Swahili.  And on the second point, the singing was truly incredible.  Perhaps the key to the fabulousness of the sound was that each singer clearly was singing with all of his or her heart.  So even though the church was not completely full, it sounded as if it were.  It truly inspired awe in us to hear the music in church today. 

There were a couple of sermons that went right over our heads and then the pastor called our host Wilson up to the front to introduce us.  He brought Jesse and Shawny up with him and Jesse gave a short speech in Swahili about who we are, what we are doing here, and how warm our welcome has been.  The whole congregation got really excited about our group and especially about Jesse’s speech.  They cheered and went nuts when he finished, even throwing in a bit of ululation to express their enthusiasm.  It was a blast. 

When the service ended everyone filed outside and formed a big arc around the main door and staircase of the church.  We couldn’t figure out what was going on and when someone came to the front of the crowd with a live chicken we started to get nervous.  Happily, it turned out that some members of the congregation make their weekly offerings in the form of goods instead of cash and those goods are auctioned off at the end of the service.  Besides the chicken there were different sets of eggs that went up for sale and some large stalks of sugar cane, among other items.  Wilson bought some eggs for Shawny and Jesse then Jesse bought some sugar cane for Wilson.  We bought more sugar cane in honor of Ciara’s birthday and then hiked home through the cornfields. 

In deference to our hosts, we reluctantly decided not to work today.  They knew that we wanted to work but they convinced us that our local co-workers would not be enthusiastic about giving up their Sunday to continue the job.  We therefore decided to take a hike over the hill to Simon’s family home, which also serves as a place for explorers, tourists and visitors to stay as they make their way through the Kilimanjaro region. 

It turns out that Simon’s place is perhaps one of the most beautiful places we will ever see in our whole lives, no matter where we have already been or where we might go.  His patio overlooks a beautiful ravine where we got to frolic in a swimming hole that involved a jump off of a big rock and a swim under a waterfall. 

After our swim we ventured back up to the house for coffee grown and roasted right on the grounds and a very special treat: a birthday cake for Ciara!  For those back home, a birthday cake might sound like a trite (and predictable) move to make but here it is an exotic delicacy that is rarely seen.  Cooks don’t necessarily know how to make them but someone on Simon’s staff figured it out.  They came around the corner singing “Happy Birthday” and we all joined in.  Eating birthday cake from this amazing overlook in the foothills of Kilimanjaro was a fabulous treat for all of us. 

We all came back really, really tired.  We ate a late dinner, watched the videos that teams miraculously managed to produce over the last few days (still to be posted) and headed for bed early-ish (for us).  Tomorrow we get back to the worksite, as there are many more holes to dig!

Dennis showing his pictures to one of our new friends.

Fresh water crab

Mt. Kilimanjaro peeking through the clouds

Sap oozing from a tree

The finer things in life (freshly roasted and ground coffee at Simon's farm)

 Another view of the waterfall on the way to Simon's parents home

Cows laying around watching the kids run around

Girls from Simon's village were playing on the lawn

Little village boys on the side of the road

 Some more children from Simon's village

The entrance to Simon's parents home

The kids wanted to follow Josh and Kyle all the way back to camp

The natural pool we jumped into to cool off in the Tanzanian heat

Trevor, Lily, and Dennis after they jumped into the cold water

A chicken being sold after Church to raise money

Heading back to camp after Church

Claire making many new friends on our walk back to camp


  1. I just finished catching up on all your posts, they are fabulous! It was great to read and see how your first days have been spent. And I always love to hear about how you come to the final decision of what your project will be and how you get to know the local community. The photos are amazing as well and I can't wait to see you in action in the videos! Keep up the good work and as always, so proud of you!
    Lori Konecny

    Love you Claire! Thanks for the texts, glad I finally figured out how to respond!! Love, Mom

  2. Happy Birthday, Ciara! I too just caught up with the latest posts - sounds like an amazing start to your 2012 January adventure. I love seeing all your smiling faces especially after your long journey there - I will check in tomorrow/today...
    Hugs all around - Renee

  3. Happy birthday Ciara!! It sounds like it was amazing. Hope everyone is doing well. Take care. Again the pictures look great! Don't let Trev get a hold of that coffee lol

    -Christopher Khoury (it wants to put me as unknown like it did for Matt)

  4. I would love to start my day by walking to Simon's parents home! Wow, beautiful everywhere! I can't wait to see a picture of the church - did someone tape any of the singing??? ttyl

  5. Happy birthday Ciara!

    ~Matt Beutner

  6. Ciara! I don't know you, but I too celebrated my Jan. 8th birthday on a memorable Jan Term trip with Shawny (NOLA '06). It will be one you'll never forget!

    Will be following all of your adventures from Southern California...

    -Kayla (Banion) Wiechert

  7. Lemosho route is the most Scenic Climb up Mt Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route using different routes; the one that is most popular is the Mt Kilimanjaro Marangu Route Climb since it is the shortest, is easier and you get to sleep in bunker beds in the huts on the hiking trail with luxuries like beverages and beer. Marangu route up kili is the most popular and therefore the one with the highest traffic. Click here to see the Marangu Route Map