Thursday, February 17, 2011

Photos and Faces of Idunda


After hugs all around, the big group has gone.  Gary, Carol, their daughter Jennifer and her friend Julie took the Land Cruiser and the luggage and left with Dennis driving.  Peter drove the Cruiser with only Don and Eunice, but the group will swell to 14 when the other travelers are picked up at Chilinze.  The new arrivals left Arusha where they were stranded because of the explosions here in Dar.  Their plane will arrive here about 10 PM (without them), mine about an hour later, still more or less on schedule, only 25 minutes behind last I checked.

Joseph will be picking me and another woman up at 8:30 PM to go to the airport.  He will pick up Kelsey in the morning for her 9:30 AM ferryboat ride to Zanzibar.  She will meet Amy Schulz and her two friends in Zanzibar for a little end-of-the-trip R&R.  For us, this marks the end of the medical adventure.  Kelsey and I spent some time debriefing the experience.  I think it is safe to summarize saying we both loved it, adventures and all!  She has some thoughtful comments on future rotations, which we will use.  I have great hope for our developing connections with St. Kate’s, IMER and Concordia.

For lunch we all went to “Steer.”  The receipts have “Magic Kingdom” written on them.  But I do not know if it is a subsidiary of Disney or not.  Could be!  The place is a collection of fast food restaurants in an American style.  There was an Asian one, a MacDonald’s style burger place, a bakery and a pizza place in this building.  On the outside were the usual street vendors.  Inside US, outside TZ.

The traffic was bad; no, horrific is more accurate.  It took 2 and ½ hours to get to the place.  We dropped Dennis off first at Wama.  I have no idea what that means.  The name of the business, I think.  It is where BkB buys their vehicles.  Two congregations have bought motorbikes for their partners and Dennis was hoping to get them shipped by truck to Iringa.  Unfortunately, they were buried far back in the container and will take several men to unload enough to get at them.  He felt thwarted. 

Dennis has been our steady pillar.  He is reassuring when we need it, confident when we need it, always wise, smart as a whip and widely experienced.  Dennis was adopted by Benjamin Ngede when Benjamin married Dennis’ mother Sarah.  I deeply respected and admired Benjamin Ngede and no less his son.

It is now 5:40 PM our time, 8:40 AM yours.  I am not sure just how much if anymore I will be able to write before I get home.  It has been fun keeping a little record of this month-long adventure!  I look at the ground below my feet, then at the palm trees here at FPCT and the Indian Ocean and realize I am very far away from home.  Very far.  It is a surreal experience, life changing in so many ways.  It isn’t just me that wants to share the stories.  My experience is that everyone who comes here wants to do the same.  The stories are endless, many tragic and heartrending.  Others are heartwarming and hopeful.  I can’t help but think I am a better person for having been here.  I hope you will come and see for yourself!

For me, departure tonight now seems highly likely.  In the mean time, follow Amy and friends and Kelsey at



Some good news.  The seminarians are found, alive and well, but wandering around aimlessly near Arusha, not knowing what to do with themselves and totally unfamiliar with Africa....

Nope.  They are a resourceful group and reached Jo at the Lutheran Center, who contacted Don.  Now bus travel is being arranged to meet the Tantanca bus at Chalinze, half way to Iringa.  Our group will leave to meet them at the rendezvous.

It is now 1:50 PM here.  The airport has re-opened.  I will go there tonight and hope my flight will actually take off.  Last night's flight will get in at 9:55 PM and should have left about 8:30 AM.  The KLM site doesn't list the actual departure. 

My flight is still scheduled and has left Amsterdam.  It is 25 minutes late, but I will suffer through that without complaint if that is the extent of it.  There was another blast this afternoon, but our understanding is that it was a scheduled detonation of a remaining bomb.  The tweets and news wires say there were 32 people who died in the blasts.  Reuters has a little story and says 20 are dead.

We are all well.  The Iringa folk will be leaving soon for a wait at Chalinze until the Augustana people arrive.  More breaking news as it happens!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dar Mall of Tanzania

Bombs Away!

We are safe and sound in Dar.  It is around 9 PM.  However, there have been explosions for the last hour at a munitions dump about 2 km from the airport.  It is now closed and Don’ seminary classmates are stranded in Kili likely until tomorrow’s flight to Dar.  Of course, I hope things are back to normal by then since that will be the flight I take back to Amsterdam.  Apparently the government had been warned to move this explosive dump, but failed to do so.  One report said the fire that started this was from a thunderstorm.  Not so.  There is not a cloud in the sky.  The first couple explosions were really loud like thunder claps close by, but I immediately noticed they were not preceded by lightening.  It took a short time for me to realize the moon is almost full and there is not a cloud in the sky.  From some areas the eerie orange glow of the exploding bombs could be seen.  We are on the outskirts of the 10 K (6 mile) radius they have evacuated.  There have been some exceptionally loud explosions, but many, many less substantial ones.  Much of the info we have learned by watching “tweets” on the internet.  Instant news.

Regardless, now at about 10:30 PM, the explosions have been fewer and further between in the last 15 minutes, but still not finished.

It is now 12:30 AM, Feb 17.  There are no further explosions and the tweets have slowed.  I am not finding any new news on the web.

It’s morning.  The group stepped into my office for an update on the flight, the airport and the explosions.  We found this website: that tells the story, photo and all.

My office, you ask?  The wireless does not reach to my room, so my office is a chair on the sidewalk in line of sight of the office where the wireless originates.  I charge astronomical rates for my consultations, absolutely outrageous!  But hey, I have a captive audience.  Unfortunately, everyone has paid on credit for Tsh, so I am not holding my breath.  “The check is in the mail.”

I may write more about the pleasant day we had yesterday, but it pales in comparison to last night’s fireworks.  After breakfast we went to a shopping center.  Not quite the Mall of America, but big competition for the Burnsville Center.  We got a flat screen TV for the Lutheran Center, a new phone for Don, a pair of steam irons and more!  Lunch and shopping at Slipway were high-lights, and a very good dinner at a Thai place in the New Africa Hotel.  We did have a great time, but how can that compete with explosions?

I am hoping I have a ride to Dar airport when we go to pick up the classmates. We'll see how that coordinates.  By the time you wake up in seven or eight hours, much will have been determined and likely I will be at the airport waiting for my flight.  I can only hope!


The view from Idunda