Passing of a Great Lady

We had some sad news a few days after Xmas. Stan’s mother, Constance, Aka Connie, 95,

Connie with grandson, Tim, 2006

Connie with grandson, Tim, 2006

passed away on Dec 27.  We will miss her . When it came to living, she was a tour de force. She leaves in her wake  an indelible memory for her family. Gone but surely not forgotten. Death was in the end a blessing. She was physically  pretty down and out. We and she knew that our time with her this summer would be the last. We said our goodbyes, and knowing that we would be in Africa , she  insisted that we not attempt  to attend her funeral. We po pooed the notion, though in our hearts, we knew.

Happily our phone service has improved significantly, at least at this time, so communication with the family has been and continues to be fluid and frequent All feel she is in a better place. The funeral, January 2, will be a Celebration of her Life. We will cheer from here. Mary and Tim will attend.

Obituary:
Constance Conrad Muessle was born in Louisville, Kentucky on May 23, 1919. She and her husband, Stan, moved to Oregon in 1945 joining her mother and father, Anna and Henry Conrad, and her sister and brother-in-law, Mary Jane and John Dietrich, in the formation of a family business, Conrad Veneers, located in Tualatin.
Ever an active member of the community, Connie saw her first priority as the nurturance of her family and the support of their education. She was mother of five, grandmother of eleven and great grandmother of sixteen.
Her significant volunteer work included teaching Christian doctrine at the parishes of St. Cecilia’s of Beaverton and at St. John Fisher of Portland. She was a founding member of St. John Fisher and an active member in the parish. Subsequently she volunteered for eleven years at Jesuit High School, organizing and directing the alumni association. She also volunteered for several years as a tax counselor for AARP.
She was a former member of the Multnomah Athletic Club and the Portland Gold Club. She lived in southwest Portland for many years before moving to Mary’s Woods in Lake Oswego in 2001.
Connie was predeceased by her husband, Stanley Peter Muessle. She is survived, by her children Stan (Elizabeth), John, Constance (Dick), David (Megan) and Brian, eleven grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren and her sister, Mary Jane Dietrich.
Mass of Christian burial will be held on Thursday, January 2 at 11:00 AM at the Chapel of the Holy Names, 17400 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego, Oregon. In lieu of flowers, the family requests remembrances to be sent to Global Outreach, 7326 Windemere Lane Sarasota, FL 34201

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Christmas in Iringa

Dear Friends,

Christmastide  turned out to be  a several tier event with each layer adding to our emergence into the spirit of the holiday, diverting feelings of aloneness and deprivation that can hover over travelers during the season where at  home or   with kith and kin seems the right place.

Two Nights Before:

We attended a Fellowship caroling event followed by a potluck dinner .It was interesting to note that while our group was made up of several nationalities, English, Danish, South African and a few Americans, the carols were, for the most part ,the traditional ones that we are used to singing.  We enjoyed  watching  the  endearing Danish tradition of lighting candles by the children to symbolize the light that the Christmas child brought to the world.

Danish Carol Lighting Tradition

Danish Carol Lighting Tradition

Many of the  people at the dinner following shared  descriptions of their reasons and logistics for  relocation to Tanzania   adding  to the stories of other expatriates which we have been gathering as we go. Some of these I would like to share with you in another blog entry. Suffice it to observe at present that their presence here adds an interesting dimension to an already remarkable homeland culture.

The Night Before :

We had a welcome taste of American our roots and a number of laughs with a Lutheran Minister, his wife and their extended family who arrived in time to celebrate the holiday. The group is a for real, an American, stereotypical,  eclectic one,  comprised of  the Minister and his wife from Mn , their daughter and son in law and three children, and the son in law’s parents from NJ. Happily the Minister and his wife will be staying on for four months, living in the unit below us. The others leave in two weeks after a three day safari.

We joined them for dinner at The Lutheran Center, which is close to our apartment building. Everyone had something interesting or humorous to share. Gary, the minister and his wife Carol, talked about their involvement in Tanzanian life. Their daughter, Jennifer,  told us about a number of their American friends doing creative work in Africa. One example that caught our imagination was a young couple coming to form an NGO dedicated  to raising awareness of the  Masaii regarding  how their practice of  killing lions in revenge for attacks on their livestock may damage the local economy by diminishing the tourist trade as well as endanger   the cycle of nature by significantly interrupting it..

Mike, the son in law, a graduate of Notre Dame  and a portfolio manger gave us some inside scoop on The Fighting Irish , (he had been the team manager during his student years during Lou Holtz’s time), and some US business perspective.

His mother told a funny story about being on a tour with a group led by a religious denomination whose name I remember not. The tour director asked her about her origins. She replied that she was Irish Catholic from NJ. Later he introduced her as Jewish from NY. That made us all chuckle as we, like the tour director, could intuit the connection.

His father, who is Italian, entertained us with recounting of a recent incident in which  one of  the youngsters from the extended family called him to ask if he would go beat up some kids that were harassing him at school, implying that the youngster’s visual impression of him evoked images from The Sopranos.

The two pre teen boys could be spotted wrestling at every presenting opportunity while the little girl stayed sweetly on her mother’s lap.

Ah, how sweet the sights and sounds of home when far from its shores. Vive la American habits and diversity!!

Christmas Day: A Tanzanian Church Experience:

Blog Altar

We attended a traditional Christmas  mass at the Catholic Cathedral. The Bishop was the Presider, assisted by two priests, six altar boys and several nuns. The altar and crèche were most attractive in their Blog Crecheseasonal adornments, and the Choir was mesmerizing in their rendition of Tanzanian hymns and traditional Christmas music.

Hearing Hark The Herald Angel Sing, Come let us Adore him, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and others interlaced with the rhythm of African drumbeat  captivated us so that the three hours we were there seemed not one minute too long .

Blog Choir

The Church was packed as it is every Sunday at every mass giving us the impression that unlike in the US and Europe, church attendance ,by both genders,  is not on the wane. One has to be careful not to be seriously distracted from the service by the beauty of the African garb on both women and children. 

One well dressed Church goer

One well dressed Church goer

 

 

Tanzanians celebrate Noel as they do other holidays; they get together with family and friends to enjoy food, camaraderie,  and relaxation. There a few decorations at home and gift giving is not largely practiced.

We were treated to a typical yuletide experience  later in the day by our Tanzanian family, our grandson, Crispin’s father, brothers, sister and her two children. They provided a delicious spread which I picture below with the dish covers on because I foolishly  did not take one with them off. (I entertain delusions of  getting  better).The fish, chicken, chips, rice , vegetables and fruit  were expertly prepared and competed most favorably with any meal we have had here to date.

Like in many homes across The Country, the kids played quietly while adult conversation turned  to  familial, country, cultural, worldly happenings and concerns  making  the time fly and leaving  the desire for more when the day was  over.  For our part, we introduced the kids to Santa, and they liked him.

On a personal note, Crispin wrote an email message greeting to our gathering. . It and his good news that he had made the Dean’s list this first semester at Bucknell was much appreciated  and applauded by all.

Hope your day, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, was merry as well.

Pictures below show Grayson opening his gift, one little party goer, Rahma, getting a bath to prepare for the event,Tom holding Rahma with Venance looking on , Winnie and Rahim at table, and our delicious feast.

Grayson reading note from Santa

Grayson reading note from Santa

Rahma getting ready to party.

Rahma getting ready to party.

Tom, 10 with Rahma, 2

Tom, 10 with Rahma, 2 and Venance

Winnie with Rahim, 2

Winnie with Rahim, 2

Our delicious meal

Our delicious meal

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We have arrived At Tanzania

December, 2013, A Running Dialogue of our first week.
We have arrived!! Well part way anyhow. 36 hours from Mary’s house to our hotel in Country should have brought us close.
Our departure was a bit intense. After a lovely family gathering for Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, we returned to MD for a Friday departure of 6PM. We received a call at 8:30AM advising us that our flight had been cancelled and asking if we could we make it to the airport by 10 AM for another. With Mary to the rescue and a half an hour of an activity reminiscent of supermarket sweep, we made it.
Our trip was long but had some perks. The service on the flights was gracious and relatively speaking , tasty ;we were able to use the Delta lounges as Stan’s mileage had just reached the limit to permit it; I may never have to consider a facelift as having your knees pressing upwards on your jaws that long may have the same beneficiary effect.

Cannot complain about our accommodations here. We spent first two nights at a beach resort on Indian Ocean. While not the Caribbean, it is rustic and picturesque. We are now at a hotel more downtown; it is a charming AFRICAplace with a great pool made affordable by Stan’s connection with Rotary.

Tomorrow we charge on (well, take our newly purchased car to the road and hope for no break downs) to Iringa and our new life.

AFRICA (7)

From the moment of deplaning and being with the Tanzanian people, it becomes clear that the effort is worth it.

Miss you Hope you are in full swing with the holidays.

Thursday, Dec 5, 2013

Our trip to Iringa was lengthy, sorely lacking the amenities of the air travel mentioned above, but quite scenic and from several aspects, quite educational.

Our driver, Mohammed, is an old friend whom we met in the late nineties when we were visiting Mary. He is an expert driver, critical AFRICA (2)since we encountered a number of accidents along the way including an overturned oil rig which would have presented a very long delay without his expertise at traffic negotiation. Even with it, our three hundred and sixty mile trek took 11 hours.

The number of cars and trucks coming and going from Dar es Salaam is astronomical. Our driver explained that the trucks are mainly importing products and moving them through the Country. He did not have an explanation for the plethora of automobiles which would seem to speak to a booming economy which is surely not the case.

Once out of the city area, our drive was through brush peppered with small villages consisting of scattered huts and sometimes marked by roadside displays of baskets for sale. The realization that the majority of these villagers will live their entire lives in the remoteness of the area is rather startling.???????????????
I asked Mohammed about schools. He said that they are strategically located throughout the countryside with students commonly walking seven or eight miles each way to attend. I guess one might observe that, obesity and computer addiction that we hear so much about in our Country are not problems for the children of The Bush.

Youngsters living in these environs often find occupation approaching slowing cars to sell AFRICA (8)farm produce, our driver informed us, as we stopped to see their offerings. We bought mangos pineapples and cashews, a few items of their standard fare which included many other fruits, vegetables and nuts. .

The scenery took our mind off the length of the trip providing sights of various interesting looking trees against a magnificent backdrop of rock formation and mountain range. We were even treated to a sample of the animals for which this Country is so well known. Romping impalas and a sauntering giraffe appeared long enough to delight us and whet our taste for more.

One of the most lasting impressions occurred close to sunset when we saw the classic figures of African women,
returning home from their day’s occupation, wearing colorful Katangas with matching head wraps, balancing baskets on their heads or baubling babies in carriers on their backs, silhouetted in the changing sky.

We arrived at our flat about 7:30PM and found it quite spacious and suitable.
And so our new life begins.

Friday, Dec 6,

After unpacking, we meet Marian, the woman who will be our housekeeper and laundress for three days a week. Of course, it is love at first sight only enhanced by her typically charming personality. She will also boil the water that we must use for everything. This empathic warning reminds me of how easy for one like myself who is often thinking of other things to inadvertently seek self destruction by carelessly taking a drink, washing a vegetable or imbibing a drip from an ill dampened toothbrush.

The highlight of the day is spending time with Grayson and Winnie, who are Crispin’s siblings, and our other “adopted” grandchildren. After Grayson graduated from university, he did an internship with Global Outreach at Stan’s bequest. At its completion, the GO staff decided to offer him a permanent position. No surprise there. Grayson is a bright, articulately bilingual, personable and competent young man.

It was quite a treat to get to spend time with him and hear his observations about his Country, his work and his life.

Winnie came over later. She fits all the personal adjectives which I above ascribe to Grayson. She is a mother of two year old twins, a healthy boy and girl who was born with cerebral Palsy. She is also a university educated secondary school teacher. She is encountering special challenges from each of these roles arising from aspects of Tanzanian culture and practices.????????????????

Upon graduation last year, Winnie’s first assignment, like the majority of new teachers, was in a remote area like the ones I described above. She is lucky because her locale meets the status of town which means, unlike many of her fellow teachers, she is in a place with electricity and running water.

Her classes have ninety- six students. She is supposed to be teaching in English because the in Country Education policy is that all subjects in Secondary school are to be taught in that language. The students’ native tongues are Kiswahili and their tribal language. Making the transition to English is the academic death for most, especially in the more remote area like the one where she is posted.

Win and Gray were given a significant advantage by our daughter, Mary, who sponsored them in The Iringa International School for three years of middle school. They entered secondary fluent in English and were therefore able to focus on class content while most of their peer s were in a struggle trying to learn the new language of the classroom.

Winnie is frustrated in her teaching location on two scores. She does not feel she is reaching her students both because of their lack of language and worldly awareness. More significantly, she is also six hours RT from the physical therapy which her child with CP critically needs. Being Winnie, she is not willing to go with the flow. She very early started the application process to be transferred here to Iringa where she can have Rahma back in therapy, receive family support, and reap the benefit of working in the more sophisticated environment of the city schools.

Even though she has submitted all paper work and related documents, Winnie is not content to let the process play out. She has a fear of Tanzanian Bureaucracy developed over the years of watching and experiencing the actions of that august body. Knowing that the Unit that makes the decisions on transfers only meets once a year and that if for some administrative oversight her dossier is not in place for the review, she will be without recourse for another year, she decided last week to take advantage of the present holiday school break and arranged passage on the four hour bus trip to the Dodoma , the seat of the Government . Her mission was to determine if her documents had made the agenda. She was prepared to confront all and any to discover who could give her this information.

En route she met with a not atypical TZ road experience. Her bus’s steering wheel locked causing the vehicle to turn over and spill the passengers out. Happily, and rather miraculously considering this picture, she made it out alive. Now back home after this 1466216_10201861417250549_1390088510_ndisconcerting experience, she must decide whether to take her life in her hands to make the 8 hr RT trek or just wait to hear from the authorities. The stakes seem high when you are in the presence of this bright young lady who is feeling very stressed about letting her daughter veg in a village and who can hardly bear the thought of another year of seemingly not making a difference in her profession.

Winnie gets an A for effort in trying to buck the system (or lack of said). We are just glad she survived the road trip, as I must note, we were glad we survived ours as well. TZ Government should put out the TZ Surgeon General’s warning: Driving or riding in a vehicle especially on highways is a major danger to your health.

Saturday, Dec 7,

Daily living here will have its challenges, but one could never claim a lack of color. Today I followed this man and ensemble to market. (Can you see from the picture the goats he is herding along?) The market is a collection of stalls selling vegetables, fruits, rice and spice, not unlike US Farmers’ Markets but eternally more bustling and more space compacted in ??????????????order that the entire facility can be covered by a large tarp. A major section is devoted to fish which your nose would tell you better than your eyes as these critters from the sea do not meet the Western image of that category. Tanzanians procure much of their protein from beans which might seem a wise choice to the Western shopper as he considers the animal alternatives for sale. Chicken comes the closest to our eating habits, and even it is a stretch. The fruits and vegetables are, however, fresh and favorable and the other, well, we are learning and experimenting and eating out a lot. Happily we both like Indian curries and cuisine. which are a prominent item of fare at the local restaurants.AFRICA (9)

Once we figure out how to work the facsimile of an oven and find a way of dissecting the chicken without using herculean extremes, I am sure we will survive.

That is if we remember how to install our mosquito nets at night. If one doesn’t do that, the results are malaria threatening bites. I will not post a picture of some of those but unfortunately, could. The way Malaria is passed is that if the mosquito bites someone with Malaria and then bites you, you get Malaria. Travelling with the right mosquitoes is therefore important because relying on the inexact science of the net installation and maintenance is tenuous at best. I am planning soon to go to one of the town sewing booths to have a body suits made for us for sleeping; am also considering cloth helmets with netted faces. Upon completion, I will be sure to attach a photo of us retiring probably looking like UFOs. Who knows, maybe we will scare the mosquitoes away!
Sunday, Dec 8

Sunday Is a day at Church, but one could observe, not the only day of attendance at religious services, planned or not. Opening a window at 6 AM or after is to hear the singing or oration of a service taking place somewhere within earshot. Most of these events are taking place at various abundant Evangelistic congregations and at the mosques during morning and evening prayer time. Once you experience an early morning here, you could not say people of different faiths are not regularly praying together, inadvertent as it might be.

In terms of formal religions, Iringa is a very Ecumenical community. There are sizeable Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Orthodox and Muslim followings with services at churches and mosques. We have not found a Synagogue yet but am sure that we will.

We attended the Catholic Cathedral this Sunday. The mass differs from the ones in the States in terms of length and ceremony. Here the priest is assisted by six altar servers, all in colorful, formal vestments. During the Consecration and other strategic parts of the Service, both priest and servers freely dispense incense while simultaneously ringing altar bells. The TZ choir renders hymns throughout. The quality of the music added to the visual spectacle of the ritual make the hour and forty five minutes seem shorter than its reality. The discipline comes in sitting still through a half an hour homily in Swahili.

This week additionally we will attend a gathering with people from other Churches. It will be our first opportunity to meet other Wazungu (white foreigners). It is a small group, and it will be nice to meet other Westerners especially given the impending holiday.

This Sunday, we did attend a Craft Fair at The Danish School. Yes, I did say “we”; Africa has its magic) and saw some European/Americans there, but they were mainly working the booths affording no opportunity to meet. We did enjoy the event. The crafts were creative and lovely, and the sausages that they were serving were delicious. That was a treat because their providers sell some meat, and we can order through them. While not extensive in selection, for sure a step in the right direction.

Monday, Dec 9

Today was a day that brought with it the warmth of friendship that is often missing in a move. It was a holiday so many of our Tanzania friends took the opportunity to stop by to wish us Karibu , aka welcome. Two of them, Miraji and Lucas, lived with us for a number of weeks in The States. It was wonderful to catch up with them.
This evening, we went to dinner with another Tanzanian friend, Angelina, who spent a few days with us in Florida in May. Stan has always referred to her as his African wife because he has boarded with her on a number of his stays, and she has always been most IMG_1787supportive of his endeavors. This picture of her in FL makes me happy because we are seeing Angelina, at the same time, sad because we miss our dear Doris and all of you, our dear friends.

Tuesday, Dec 10

Isn’t wonderful when serendipity meets opportunity to produce a means of meeting a high priority? Today brought about one of those special, happy occasions. Here is a little background:

Before we left The States, I read in an email from the Iringa network which we had signed into that one of the doctors at a nearby hospital was looking for help perfecting English language skills. I responded that I would consider doing that if he was still looking when we arrived.

When we did arrive, Grayson and I were discussing the TZ health care system. He told me that there were no accessible MDs here but rather Medical Assistants with more limited training. While they handle most situations well, Winnie has really wanted to see a certified Pediatrician to evaluate Rahma.

To make a long story short, when the referring doctor called to set up a meeting time, he mentioned that his colleague, my potential student, was the only Pediatrician in the Iringa Area. While not completely without ulterior motive, I invited Winnie (and Rahma) to join us at our first meeting so that she could help with translation if needed. My intention was to tell the doctor when the subject of remuneration came up that I would settle for an evaluation of Rahma and a promise that he would keep her on his radar for finding resources for her.

As it turns out, both doctors (MDS) came, and both are from Milan, Italy. They are with an NGO (non profit) Doctors With Africa. They agreed to my proposition and gave her an immediate evaluation of Rahma. Since that time they have called Winnie with suggestions and have given her referral to a therapy group their Organization runs. Dr Carrado, my student, has also written a letter to the government urging them to place Winnie in Iringa for Rahma’s access to treatment.

If all of that was not good enough, Dr. C has also offered to cook for us! How fun is that. Now let’s hope that I can figure out how to teach English as a second language. (ESL). Anyone with materials to email would be most thanked. I do know I will have no problem teaching him phrases like veal parmesan, lasagna, Bolognaise and any suggestions you might have.

It was a big day on the home front as well. I found the manual for the stove/oven and actually roasted a chicken.

Later in the afternoon, I managed to survive a torrential downpour at the market ; it lasted about an hour and reminds us that we had better make hay while the sun shines as the rainy season is about to commence.

Wednesday, Dec 11

This is a day of catch up and reflection because it marks the end of our first week. Even with two toilets overflowing at the moment, I am aware that we are quite lucky because our house maid (a gem) and a plumber are taking care of the problem, (and the problem is mitigated by the industrial strength tile that provides the flooring throughout our spacious flat.)

I think we may be adjusting.

Iringa is a small place with few structured activities and less shopping, but as we all know, big things can happen in small places, a thought which seems timely as it is after all at the heart of the Christmas message.

The news from Global Outreach continues to inspire.

We will not be home for Christmas and will miss our kids:

Mary, Tim and Carolyn

Mary, Tim and Carolyn

Our Grandkids:

Holly

Holly

Freshman at northeastern

Heather

Freshman at Bucknell

Crispin

And all of you. We wish you the happiest of holidays and a most prosperous New Year!!!

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