Here we are at the last week of school for our kids before summer break! It sure was a short experience in Grades Five and Two. They will miss the official last week as we are pulling them out early for our trip to Tanzania. Even so, there is plenty of end-of-the-year excitement going on: finishing art projects and portfolios, taking assessment tests, making cards to thank teachers.
On the home front we are organizing and packing for our three weeks in Tanzania. Simon and Elsa Ruth are practicing swallowing “pills” (sunflower seeds, raisins, vitamins) in preparation for our daily malaria meds. I have been thinking about how many granola bars are reasonable to pack in case the kids need something familiar to snack on. We have talked about some of the things that will be different from South Africa. For example, we won’t drink the water from the tap and people will be more curious about us. With the one hour time change and weather similar to here right now we hope the adjustment will be pretty smooth.
What we can’t prepare them for… or really, what I can’t prepare myself for is what it will feel like to be there. I am trying to remind myself that (of course!) Tanzania, the people, and places we know have changed in our fifteen years away. But even as I do that, I am already reminded of its sameness. Every day for the past couple weeks, one former student or friend has surfaced via Facebook, email, or a text. Each time we hear from someone we are struck by a sense of welcome, openness, and gratitude that is so familiar. The fact that we will get to see many of the people we taught, worked with, or learned from is a dream come true! That our children will get to meet them… I lack the words to express that gift.
Today is Thanksgiving and we wish all of our American friends and family a very happy one! Our celebration meal will probably be “FFY,” that’s “fend for yourself” in our family. Carrots, milk, eggs, bread, and mayonnaise are not likely to make a very festive meal. At least there’s quite a bit of ice cream to eat up so we can unplug the refrigerator tomorrow!
Here’s something I’m thankful for: last night we witnessed “nuptial flight.” Winged termites had emerged to mate and then shed their silvery wings before beginning new colonies underground. We had read about this phenomenon on our friends’ blog before arriving in S.A. and were aware it might happen as the conditions are right and there have been more of these insects around recently. The first clue, a gentle tap-tapping against the windows, didn’t grab my attention. When friend Jon texted “nuptial flight” at 7:30 we raced outside with anticipation. A full moon bathed everything in a splendid glow. It was not the mass of insects we had heard about but even so it was “pretty cool,” according to the kids. Even better was watching the many large toads, geckos, and lizards which had gathered around lights to feast.
Meanwhile the relentless zoom and buzz of traffic on the freeway visible from our complex carried on. I thought about how many events I have “missed” because I didn’t realize their specialness. Often we need other people’s guidance or encouragement to develop appreciation. Thankfully my life has been full of many people who offered that sort of nurturing. Being in this new place also gives the gift of fresh eyes and awakens a sense of wonder.
Elsa Ruth’s shoes were drying outside yesterday and had been forgotten overnight. Look at what I found inside them this morning:
- Just a note that we will be absent from this blog for several weeks. See you around Christmas!
- If you crave more information about termites and nuptial flights, try here or here.