Parker in Africa - February 13, 2006
Dear Friends and Family,
Well, I have been in Africa now for almost a month. Time sure does seem to fly, but as I look ahead, a year is a long time to be away from home. Now, I have mostly gotten over adjustment time, and I am starting to see things less as a tourist and more as a resident. This has brought both positive and negative things to light. I have found that living at a seminary might be more challenging than I had initially thought. Not only do I have to be on my best behavior, but I must also suppress some of my views and opinions, at least until everyone else is very comfortable with me, as I don't want to offend anyone and have my living situation uncomfortable for the remainder of the year. I have also found that the seclusion of the school will most likely hinder my activities (i.e. I am very bored and finding it difficult to make friends) Besides those things, life is still good. I am really enjoying teaching, and I've sparked the student's interest in Astronomy. It has been really fun to introduce them to the telescope. It's been strange getting used to being called 'Madame' and having the students offer to carry my things all the time, but actually, the students are amazing. They are really open and ready to talk to me. I have really found some friends in the older classes.
After classes I usually try to go play soccer with the boys or a tag-like game with the girls. Last weekend there was a big graduation and all the families of the students came and we had a big feast-the highlight of which was the roasted goat with the head still intact. Now that the school is no longer in preparation for the graduation things have slowed down. To fill my time I have started to learn how to milk a cow (the school owns many cows, goats, and pigs) and helping in the farm. It has been fun to make and grow my own food. Yesterday I made fresh passion fruit and mango juice right for the tree. (It's mango season, and I eat at least two every day.) I have also started to explore the surrounding villages, traveling further up the mountain for cooler temperatures and a look at village life.
Unfortunately, Tanzania is now experiencing drought. Although not devastating as in Kenya and Ethiopia, it has still been extremely hot and dry. Since most of the electricity in TZ is generated by moving water, electricity is being rationed, and we usually only have it at nights. This is difficult for the students, because they usually study in the evening, but now have to go straight to their dorm rooms at dark. Besides that, it is still so beautiful here-it's so nice to see such a beautiful mountain every day.
While there are new things to see and experience every day, life is pretty normal. I'm still trying to make friends, but the process has been slow, as the teachers at Agape are not very outgoing. I love getting all of your emails and I'm sorry if I haven't replied. I am trying to reply to everyone, but my internet access is very limited. I got a cell phone (I finally bought in) because you can't really get around without one as everyone has one. So, you can try to call me, or write a letter! I hope all is well wherever you find yourselves. Please keep in touch!
P.S. my new address is:
Agape Lutheran Junior Seminary
Lynch Rocket Lab