24 March 2010

Welcome to Tanzania!

Sunday, 3 January 2010, 7:40am, 73*F
Mavuno Village, Tanzania

It's been a whirlwind trip so far: Denver to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Arusha (TZ).

We were hung up in customs (about 11pm, 30 December) on arrival in Arusha - - the customs officials couldn't "understand" why the Millers, a family of 6, would be bringing so many clothes, pillows, etc. into Tanzania to stay for 2 years. Millers actually had only 10 pieces of baggage. Ultimately, the customs people "valued" our goods "at least $1,000", applied a 25% "tax" and let us into Tanzania. In other words, the price of their "understanding" was $250 USD and 3 used soccer balls (which were being sent to the orphanage). Missionaries here say there is a lot of corruption and we were scalped. On the other hand, for a team of 13 maybe the loss was acceptable - - after all, we did arrive with all our stuff. We have already talked about doing this diffferently next time.

We spent a (short) night at Engedi, a retreat outside Arusha. Beautiful place (we saw Kilimanjaro by moonlight) - - seems like a lo-o-ong way off the main (paved) road, but it was actually only 4km. Paul Tanner, Dan Tanner's brother, lives at Engedi.

Early the next morning (31 December 2009) we took a short (1h 15m) flight from Arusha to Mwanza - - after paying overweight fees on our baggage. R2 and I were over by 30kg x $3/kg = $90 USD. Then they let us go for only $60. Keep in mind, this is in a country where Tanner's housekeeper is paid (fairly) $8 a week (Ts 10,000 = Tanzanian shillings).

Dave and Becky Helsby (and Kate, their youngest) picked us up at the airport in Mwanza. We loaded into two Land Cruisers and headed to Mavuno Village, about 30km from Mwanza. It was noon on New Years eve but with a time difference of +10 hours, it felt like 2am. Door-to-door we travelled about 33 hours.

Cast of characters:
Our team: Dave, Debi and Maddy Mclaughlin, Dave is an MD in Bozeman, Debi his wife and Maddy their granddaughter (13); Eric Lindeen, a software engineer from Bozeman; Elliot Heumier, a 4th year Bible student at Montana Bible College in Bozeman (he very much wants to go into missions); the Miller family: Josh & Amy and their 4 kids, Hannah, Naomi, Abby, and Zeke (ages 7 to 3) - - Josh is going to run the office / bookkeeping at Mavuno; R2 and me - - I'm here to do some solar-electric projects.

Our hosts: Helsby's - - our first contact with Mavuno, Dave and Becky have been in TZ about 4 years. Becky was an MK (missionary kid) born in Taiwan - - she lived there to age 18, Dave was an MK also - - they met at boarding school in China. They have 6 kids: Hannnah (13), Jake, Carter, Lauren, Megan, and Kate (18mos.).
Tanners: Dan and Bethany - - Dan was born in Mwanza and raised in TZ. He is a native Swahili speaker and the director of Mavuno Village. Dan met Bethany in Montana - - they moved to Kenya 18 years ago when Bethany was 8 months pregnant with their eldest, Caitlin. All of their biological kids were born in Kenya. They have 5 - - Caitlin, Denae, Lana, Levi and Reuben - - Reuben is an 18 month old TZ orphan they adopted.

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