One of the things we were most hoping to find in ourselves on this trip was perspective. When we communicated this to each other it seemed silly, how could one travel abroad and not gain insight into your own cultural norms? Again and again we see people doing things differently, and immediately it is easy to pass judgement. It is hard for us to be passive when we see things that we don’t think are safe or smart. We have these conversations often, full of questions like: What is my role? How can I best effect change in my circle of influence? Am I doing too much? When we find ourselves faced with a myriad of problems it is both overwhelming and discouraging. It is at this point we are both doubly glad for writing out our personal goals for our time here. There have been so many trials in our time in Arusha that it is hard to feel successful in our endeavors. For everyday we feel accomplished there are two where our metaphorical stone has rolled back down the hill.
However, we don’t need to look far for the silver lining, because every time we have this conversation of perspective, our place in society, and our goals to influence change; we are succeeding. As we move from different living arrangements and work environments something that we heard a long time ago comes to mind “God doesn’t require us to be successful, God only requires us to serve.” Following these words of wisdom helped us make the decision to change our initial plans to include a month visit to Musoma to work in a volunteer dental clinic. Laura received a phone call from the Goshen College study abroad professors who told her about a friend and this opportunity to serve. The clinic is in dire need of a dentist, and we both felt it was too obvious of a call to ignore.
We are facing our new adventures with both excitement and sadness. In a lot of ways this marks the beginning of the end of our time in Tanzania. With our remaining time broken up into small increments of a few weeks here and a few weeks there it almost feels as if we are leaving tomorrow. Somehow, our time in Arusha is coming to an end. We’re already starting to feel nostalgic about everything here. Tarik finished up at his school 3 weeks ago, and he has been volunteering at Plaster House since then. He is helping an occupational therapist there as they treat ~100 kids living there for pre/post surgery rehabilitation. Last week Laura joined at Plaster House to do dental exams on all the children, and this week she plans to complete their dental treatment needs. It’s an incredible place, we highly recommend you take a look at their website to learn more about the amazing work being done there: www.plasterhouse.org
It’s been awhile since we’ve given an update. Our month of February really felt like it was all over the place. We hosted Aaron Kaufmann and Sarah Sutter. It was a joy to spend the week with them. We showed them around Arusha, ate at a few of our favorite places, and enjoyed time at our house catching up and playing games. They then went on safari, and we headed to climb Kilimanjaro!
As many of you know, Tarik and I have just about zero experience mountain climbing. We love hiking, but we knew this would be something very different. We had an incredible 6 day trek, and thanks to some very wise decisions by our head guide, we were able to successfully make it to Uhuru Peak at 19, 341 ft. We were amazed by what our bodies could withstand, when our mind just kept saying, “left foot, right foot.” We have many stories to tell and pictures to show, but we’ll save that for when we see you all in person. All in all, we are so glad we went along with Indy and her dad. It was an incredible, unforgettable experience. If you’d like to see some of our pictures and read a detailed report check out Indy’s blog post about our climb: https://indyrey.com/upwards/kilimanjaros-lemosho-route/
As we look to the months ahead, we are eager for the new experiences to come, as we change to a much more rural setting with an even slower pace. We plan to spend 2 weeks in Mugumu visiting my host family and connecting with the hospital and safehouse to give supplies and dental education. Then we will spend the month of May in Musoma where at the volunteer dental clinic. We are continually amazed by the connections we’ve made here.