The time has come! Ashley (dear friend/fellow volunteer), S. Mary Jane (who will help us settle in the first two weeks) and myself fly out Sunday morning. After two layovers, one in D.C. the other in Ethiopia, we land in Dar es Saalam, Tanzania around 1:00 pm on Monday. We will stay at least a night there before the 16-hour (yes, 16) bus ride to St. Agnes Convent in Chipole. (Go ahead and calculate the travel time if you'd like, i'd rather not.) Really, though, the adventure has already begun. The past two weeks I have spent at St. Benedict’s Monastery with some of the most gracious and loving people I have ever met. The sisters have been so good to us here, it makes me sorry to go.
Still, we're ready and it feels like time. The sisters sent us off with the most beautiful and moving blessing and are so behind us, it is amazing. We’ve learned quite a bit about Chipole and Tanzania in general over these two weeks, but being the first volunteers from our program at this placement, there is quite a bit we don’t know. Exactly how far away is the nearest city? What will be able to buy? How many of the sisters will we be able to communicate with in English? I’m okay with it though. I’m trying to be open and ready for anything. This is why I’m calling this blog “Mungu Akipenda.” It is a Swahili phrase introduced to Ashley and I by a friend who spent last year in Tanzania. It is possible that it is actually used to say something more like “We’ll see” or “I don’t know” rather than the literal translation “if God wishes,” but I figure all are appropriate. My hope is that this attitude of trust is present throughout my Tanzanian life.
I’ll miss you all and think of you often. Please pray for safe travels!