Monday, June 28, 2010

New Tricks

Who said you can't teach an old Masaai Warrior new tricks?
They clearly hadn't met our kids.
Watch out Warrior!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Can You Tell The Difference?

As I posted earlier, there was one day that the music of the Masaai choir just took my breath away. This wasn't to say that the other choirs weren't good also. But this particular choir was AMAZING.

Here are two videos of choirs:

This video is from our very first village visit. They were good. Nicely choreographed. A real pleasure to listen to.

This is the one that took our breath away. Simply amazing.

Can you tell the difference?!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

This Is A Story

This is a story.

A story about how a lovely little church on the outskirts of WaveTown USA decided to build a church in the middle of the bush, Tanzania.

This church on the outskirts of WaveTown was very motivated and dedicated to the cause and by the grace of God and some generous contributors, were able to raise a significant amount of money to build their little church in the middle of the bush, Tanzania.

So a group of 13 rough and rowdy souls we gathered together to make the trek to the bush- in the middle, of Tanzania. They were an odd group; consisting of both men and women, old and young, tone-deaf and musical genius. They were collectively dedicated to the work at hand. They also collectively smelled, but that is an entirely different story.

When the day came for them to build, there was a certain excitement in the air for the rough and rowdy group of 13 from the lovely little church on the outskirts of town. They were finally there- in the place where the church was to be built in the middle- of the bush- Tanzania. They were to build and erect the rafters on their church. All was well with their souls.

That was until it wasn't.

As the group was learning, mostly the hard way, things in Africa seldom go to plan. This proved to be true when it came to their dream of building. They discovered that the generator needed to power their tools, to build the rafters, on the church, in the middle of the bush Tanzania, was not functioning. And not only was it not functioning, but the person who was to fix it was no where to be found. Then add to that, that money had already been paid to fix the generator that was to build the church, in the middle, of the bush, Tanzania.

To say the rough and rowdy group was disappointed would be an understatement.

But none the less, they pressed on, doing what they could, with what they had.

They carried boards.

They pounded nails.

They cut and measured.

They created a single rafter.

Though only one, this rafter was built tough. And strong. And with a lot of Jesus love. By the group. From the lovely little church. On the outskirts. Of WaveTown, USA.

The best part of the story had yet to come though...

A few days after the rafter was created, the rough and rowdy group was venturing through the bush once again. On their journey they passed the spot where their church was. To their surprise and pure elation, all of the rafters had been completed and were even UP!

While the one rafter that was completed seemed like only one, it was much more than that. It was a template for how to build a rafter. It was a template for how to live the Gospel. It was a template for how to build up the church as a whole. One cut, nail, and board at a time; ultimately resulting in the extension of the church we love so much.

The lovely little church on the outskirts of WaveTown, USA had left their mark. On the rafter, in the hearts, of our church in the middle of the bush, Tanzania.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Meet The Haff

To the relief of concerned parents and family members, I didn't just take our group out traipsing through the bush all by myself. Though that would have been an exciting adventure and I do love a good adventure. Maybe next time....

But no. We were able to hook up with one Pastor Herb Haferman; which by the way is pretty much my hero.

The Haff (pronounced Hoff) is an ordained pastor of the ELCA and has devoted his life to serving in Tanzania. He's a graduate of Wartburg College (which makes me like him even more) and Wartburg Seminary. For the last 40 some years, The Haff has lived in Tanzania, first serving as a teacher, then running the Language School (where we stayed), and then finally pretty much just moving on to ruling the world (or at least the Tanzanian diocese). Though not officially in charge of anything synod or diocese, both operate because of his ridiculously awesome influence and guidance. Though he would never admit everything he has done to help develop the Lutheran Church in Tanzania, he is by far one of the most influential people EVER.

Having formally retired from the ELCA twice now (he's like a faithful dog that just keeps coming back), The Haff continues to work daily to extend the body of Christ. Along with his builder and evangelist Luka, Haff travels all around central Tanzania to build up new congregations; primarily among the Masaai tribe. If someone were to write a book about his life and the wicked awesome things he's done- it would no doubt be a best seller. And let's be honest, it'd probably be made into a movie, too. The work this man has done really is THAT cool.

In honor of this great man, I want to make a list.
I present: The Top 8 Reasons The Haff is Awesome

1. His nickname is "The Haff" and he is NOT related to David Hasselhoff.

2. I've watched this man suck bone marrow out of a goat bone with my own two eyes. Only after to hear him say, "Delicious."

3. He's 70 something and I have to run to keep pace with him.

4. While at Mikumi, he makes what he calls his Lion Noise to get the attention of elephants and giraffes. It really just sounds like an awkward grunt but because he's old- we let him continue.

5. He eats Marmite. If you don't know what this is or what it tastes like, consider yourself lucky.

6. While eating Marmite, he gets so into it, that he doesn't even notice that he has left a lovely trail of it in his beard.

7. The man speaks fluent Swahili for Pete's Sake!

8. Despite being separated from his wife and children (who live in Iowa... his wife living in Eisenach Village in Waverly), he continues to be a faithful servant doing everything within his power to live out the Gospel.

And because I can:
8.5 Even after having had me in Tanzania before, he let me return; this time with a group that was even rowdier than I. This man's got some patience!

Thank You Haff for EVERYTHING you did for us.
You're so cute with Marmite in your beard.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On Driving

I think that it is safe to say that Dar es Salaam is in fact NOT Waverly, Iowa. As we drove through Dar the morning following our arrival in Tanzania, I video taped our little outing. I hope this will paint a somewhat vivid picture of the hustle and bustle of life in Dar.

Unlike Waverly, there are hardly any traffic lights or signs. Vehicles move when they can break through traffic and pedestrians NEVER have the right-away. The streets are littered with yesterdays garbage, crazy chickens, and fearless bikers.

Though we probably only went a total of 10 miles in Dar, it took us nearly an hour to get out of town. Several times there were gasps from the back seat as we came within inches of other cars, people, or livestock. When this happened, the bus driver would just laugh at us- as this is typical Tanzania roadrage etiquette.

This video is actually pretty tame compared to some of the madness we were in. But you'll notice how close to us some of the other vans are. Close enough for my heart to skip a beat, I'll tell yah! Hold onto your socks, friends. This is one crazy ride!

Driving in Dar from Emily Harkins on Vimeo.

High Speed Is My Friend

Now that we are home safe and sound (We meet again Home of the Free and the Brave. Oh how I've missed thee) I can actually upload some videos and pictures. High Speed Internet is totally my best friend right now. So for the next however long it takes me to show what I feel like showing, I will be updating this blog!

So please keep checking into this here blog for lots and lots and lots of more posts and pictures. Also I hope to post some personal reflections from the different people that went on the trip.

Lots to look forward to, people!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


For two weeks we have been dirty. And it's not because we haven't showered. Because we have, this I can assure you. But the land here is just dirtier than where we come from. I say this not as a bad thing, because the red dirt is actually quite beautiful. Dirt here is just a way of life. It makes up the roads. It makes up the floors of many of the churches we've been to. It makes up the paths that lead many to worship. Built into the very fiber of this place is dirt.

The thing about dirt is that you can see it. You can feel it. And dirt often leaves an irremovable mark.

So for two weeks we have been dirty.

We have seen the people of Tanzania.
We have felt the Spirit of Tanzania.
We have been forever marked by the dirt of this place.

Though I think everyone is ready to return home to our families and friends, there will be a certain sadness in leaving this place tomorrow. We will say goodbye to new friends, old friends, and a way of life that has taught us much about who we are as people and Christians.

Even when we return home, I am confident that our hearts will be forever dirty from the experience. For that I feel blessed and extremely grateful.

Bwana Asifiwe, all.
God is good.
Especially here in Tanzania.

(I have a few more funny posts to come. Look for them tomorrow and in the days after our return. I plan on uploading pictures and some videos once I get home and the internet moves as a pace faster than a snail!)