Saturday, November 19, 2011

On Work


While the content of my previous blogs may be misleading on this
subject, we do, in fact work here. Though the Tanzanian and monastic
balance of work, prayer and leisure make it more of a challenge, we
make a point to work as much as we can. Not only is that a part of our
commitment to this community, but we’ve also found it’s necessary to
satisfy our productivity-loving Yankee blood and, if nothing else,
keeping our hands busy is a wonderful distraction from feelings of
homesickness that have begun to set in.  So here’s a summary:

St. Agnes Secondary School for Girls
This has been our main assignment. Ash and I team-teach English and
computer classes to the girls in form 1 (about freshman in high school
age). Term has just ended and the girls are currently in exams. Our
success as teachers is not so easily assessed. I have no idea if I
helped them learn English and a few weeks ago a rain storm cut the
power indefinitely in the computer room making it difficult to teach.
Needless to say, the challenges have been constant. Our success here,
I think, is in the time we spend with the girls and our conversations
with them outside of class. We play games, sing songs, go to the field
and play sports with them (well, ash does anyway).  My favorite part
is probably the endless and hilarious notes we often receive from them
full of broken English and pretty inappropriate expressions of
adoration. One of my favs: “Sash and Margreth- I need the friendly
with you becouse I love u. – Jesscar.”

The Bakery
Next to school, this is probably the place where I spend the most
time. I just never get sick of baking. I love that now we know how to
do just about everything by ourselves, and they trust us to do it. We
make Maandazi (doughnuts), Chipsi (crackers), Keksi (cookies), Keki
(cake) and my favorite to make, Mikate (bread). As we bake we sing,
dance, daydream and snack on treats. Overall, a great place to be.

The Sewing Room
There are multiple sewing rooms here, as there are endless uniforms
and habits to make and mend. The one we work in makes priest’s
vestments- quite the addition to my resume. Ash and I began
cross-stitching stoles when work in the bakery became less pleasant
with the heat. I love going mostly because of the sisters who work
there- Sr. Jenista and Sr. Angelina. Both are incredibly sweet and
good to us, though Sr. Angelina speaks only a few words of English.
While sewing one day, I was surprised to hear not only an English
voice come through the tape player, but one with an Irish accent. I
have since learned that Sr. Jenista spent one year very near to where
I lived while studying in Ireland! It’s been fun having something so
important to me in common with her. What a small world it is.

The Orphanage
Though we play with the toddlers from time to time, just this week I
started going to orphanage on a daily basis, and spending time in the
baby room. It’s very difficult being there, and even more difficult to
describe. After just a week, though, I get the feeling that it will be
an important part my remaining time here.

That is our work, at least my attempted categorization of it. In
reality, it is much more sporadic and often unseen. It is helping to
peel potatoes or cassava, setting up Sister Rustica’s first email
account, teaching the novices a song to sing for English mass, or
setting the table for dinner. Really, most of what we do is not that
important or life changing. But the mere gift your hands can be
powerful, I think. And perhaps that is the best way to explain how we
spend our time here: just being our hands.

No comments:

Post a Comment