Back in July, I was talking to a friend, Leah Wilson, and she asked me what I was doing now that I had finished Swahili school. I told her that I was mainly visiting with families, and that I try to spend most of the day at a family’s house each day. Although I no longer visit someone every day, it is still a priority. On Saturday, for example, some of the leaders of the Lumala Church came over to my house for most of the day.
(Saturday was my first time making the local staple dagaa, on the right. Yes, those are in fact sun-dried minnows. The title means, “the white person can cook!”, something they often say when I prepare Tanzanian food for them.)
On Sunday, I spent several hours after church visiting with the pastor’s family in Nyegezi. (Pretty thankful to be friends with their son, Amani. He wanted a picture wearing my glasses.)
Visiting with these folks helps with learning Swahili and how Tanzanians think, with getting a sense of how the development work is going and what the people think about the work, and with building trust.
The pastor and his wife at Nyegezi UMC
(The widow of Rev. Levi Nyasinde lives out in Nyegezi as well. She did not want her picture taken, so I just took a picture of her preparing the greens for our lunch.)
We talk endlessly about the differences between America and Tanzania. They love hearing about how I have such a hard time making their staple, ugali, because my arm is too weak, and how Americans freak out when they are served fish with their heads still intact. We also talk often about the development work. On one occasion, I was eating a piece of watermelon that Mzee (means “elder”) Dentoni thought was too big, and he pulled out a knife and said, “No, Davis. You can’t do it like that. You have to do it like you taught us in CCMP – step by step.” They frequently ask why I am not married and don’t have children. I have tried many ways of explaining it, with little success.
(Visiting with some of the leaders of the Lumala church, in the home of Mzee Dentoni. I couldn’t eat sugarcane like they can, so they graciously cut it up for me.)
Here is Mama Riziki, leader in the Lumala church. She has taken more of a leadership role in our development work than any of the other women of the church.
Before church at Igombe UMC, they served breakfast, and then after, we had lunch together. Pastor Zakaria is wearing red in the middle picture.
The most important reason for spending so much time together, though, is that it helps me to do this work for the right reasons, instead of the wrong ones. The most clear “right reason” for doing this work is that I love these people. It’s hard to love people who you don’t know. And while I am far from deeply knowing and being in love with these people, every meal together brings us a little closer.