Annnnnd, I’m back to writing once a month.  I have no excuse, just that I have an aversion to blog writing.  Here’s a re-cap of the events of the last few weeks:
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Mussa’s birthday was at the beginning of November, and just so happened to fall on the same weekend as the Muslim holiday, Eid.  As many of our friends and some roommates are Muslim, we decided to celebrate both with a traditional goat roast.  Kerri and I really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into by deciding to have a goat roast at our house.  The day started with the delivery of the goat…all alive and cute in the backyard.  We tried not to get to friendly with it, as it would be slaughtered just a few hours later.  We took a few pictures and left it at that.  The grill, more food, and our friendly goat-killer arrived next.  Thanks to our friend Adam’s expertise, the goat was killed and skinned without too much drama (though I couldn’t stand to watch) and we managed to have a delicious meal from the poor thing.  Our house stunk like goat for a few days, but the event definitely goes down in the record books.

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As November carried on, Kerri and I prepared to leave Moshi for a few weeks for a trip to South Africa and a language course in Dar.  Since we would miss the last day of school at Kilimahewa before the break (the academic school year in Tanzania is flipped, so the “summer” break happens in December), we had a little celebration with our after school kids.  We have been planning a mural design for the gates of the school and interviewing students about their future plans, so we finished up the activity before passing out suckers and dancing to music.  The kids insisted that we stay, but we assured them we would be back at the beginning of the following school year.  We’ve had such a great time with the kids this year and hope next year’s group is just as successful.

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 Kerri and I made a trip with Mama Grace to visit a few of our sponsored students at Mrike Secondary School in Rhombo, which is an area outside of Moshi that seems to be in the middle of nowhere.  We drove for about three hours to get to the school and were greeted by three smiling faces at the gates.  Kerri and I have known two of the students since the first year we came to Tanzania, so it was great to see them doing well.  They gave us a tour of campus, introduced us to their teachers, and talked about life at boarding school.  They are all doing well in school and seem extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend Mrike.  Seeing these students thriving reminded us why our school sponsorship program is so important.

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November was full of birthdays, and on the 14th of the month, we celebrated Kerri’s with a pool party! We went to a hotel right outside of Moshi and basked in the sun to celebrate Kerri’s 31 years.  I had not been swimming in ages, so I had a ton of fun.  We were set to leave for South Africa the next day, so the birthday party was a great way to say goodbye to Moshi and our friends there.

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South Africa was amazing.  We went with our friends Mussa and Adam and had such a good time.  The journey started with a 10-hour bus ride to Dar es Salaam to catch our flight.  I’m pretty sure I slept the entire way, enjoying the comfort of air-conditioning for the first time since arriving in Tanzania.  We flew first to the Johannesburg airport, where we spent six hours overnight waiting for our flight to Cape Town at 5 the next morning.  I slept like a champ on the airport benches and woke up ready to finish the last leg of the trip.  We were greeted in Cape Town by our airport shuttle and arrived at our hostel on Long Street in one piece.


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Cape Town is pretty much like Europe or America in Africa, so it felt like home to Kerri and I.  It did not, however, feel like home to Adam and Mussa, who had never left East Africa.  We had a great time watching them learn how to use escalators, browse the aisles of the South African Wal-Mart, marvel at the organized roads and sidewalks, and try all sorts of different foods (including sushi…not a hit).  We spent the week exploring the sites of Cape Town and had such a fabulous trip.  Kerri did a great job writing a detailed re-cap of the vacation, so check her blog out for more stories.  For the sake of saving space in an already packed blog entry, here is a list of what we did with some pictures for your enjoyment!


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Explored the city and did LOTS of shopping.  Traveling with boys who were interested in shopping was great for Kerri and I.

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Tasted lots of South African wine…delicious!


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Traveled to the World of Birds, a nationally renowned bird sanctuary. 


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Rented a car and drove around the Cape.  Ended up at the Cape of Good Hope, the most South-Western point of the African continent.  A baboon jumped in our car and decided that it wanted our bananas and cookies!


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Spent a rainy day at Victoria and Albert Harbor and went to the movie theater.


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Took a ferry to Robben Island to tour the prison where Nelson Mandela was held captive for 17 years


Ate lots and lots of delicious food that we can’t get in Tanzania (Mexican! Sushi! Indian! Salads! Oh my!)
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 Climbed Table Mountain – breathtaking. 2 ½ hour hike up the mountain followed by a 4 minute cable car ride down J.  The hike was MUCH better!


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Laughed a ton, made a bunch of new friends, and enjoyed being out of Tanzania for a bit.


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Packing for home was not fun, as we had such a great time on the vacation, but all good things must come to an end. We spent the last morning carefully packing our bags with our South African souvenirs - including a newly purchased hose for Mussa’s house, enough South African brochures to kill a horse, shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, and other things most normal people buy on vacation J.  Needless to say, these things are MUCH cheaper in South Africa than they are in Tanzania, and we took full advantage.


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Kerri and I are now back in Dar es Salaam to take a Swahili language course for the next two weeks.  We’re staying with Mussa’s cousin in an area of Dar called Kariakoo, which is, in a word, insane.  It seems like all of the clothes and people of Tanzania descended upon one square mile of space.  We’ve been using the last few days to figure our way around the millions of shops and streets, and are feeling much more confident about our surroundings.  We are not, however, feeling more confident about the heat.  It is absolutely scorching here.  I’m quite sure I haven’t stopped sweating since we got off of the plane.  We start class on Monday, and can’t really complain too much, since we’ll be spending the next two weeks learning Swahili on the beach.  There are worse things in life, we know. 


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Alright, I think it’s time this blog entry is done.  So, until next time…maybe I’ll be writing my blog in Swahili.  Thanks again to all who are reading!!  Sending love in sombreros from Tanzania!!


Laurie Anderson
11/30/2011

Jillian,
I really enjoy reading of your adventures in Africa. Glad the water project is now providing water for the area. We don't even realize how lucky we are here in the US to have water. Thanks for putting it in perspective. Glad your after school program is going well too.
I would love to go to Africa some day. Thanks for sharing you travels with us all. I love the pictures....almost feel like I'm there.
Know that you are in my prayers every day and I pray for your safety and that this will be an amazing year for you. We are all do proud of you and the work you are doing. Keep up the amazing life changing work you are doing. You are making such a huge difference and helping transform lives by your work.
Thanks again for your blog.
Laurie Anderson (from First Lutheran Church)

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