Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More to Sell

I was just going through the bag of Sr. Peg's stuff and I realized we also have some wallets to sell.

Thanks so much, everyone, for your interest so far. We've been so blown away by the overwhelming response! 

Trip Home?

On Friday Chris and I will be headed out of Tanzania for a 5 week trip back to the US. Barring any unforeseen circumstances or freakish weather, we plan to spend at least 2 nights in the following states: NY, NJ, PA, NC, GA, SC and MS. It's going to be whirlwind of a trip, but we are so excited and feel so fortunate to be able to see as many people and visit as many places as we are planning.

The past few days have been busy with packing, planning with family and friends, readying things for the house and the pets here in Mwanza and taking care of everything that needs to be done for our work ministries, which we'll be leaving behind for other people to take care of. But in the back of my mind I keep finding myself a little bit worried about leaving and not quite as excited as I would've thought. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm SUPER excited. I'm mostly excited to see people and catch up on the lives of friends and family. And I'm looking forward to the materials things I've missed. Let's be honest, that means mostly food! But at the same time I'm not, like, DYING to go home. I'm not homesick or thinking, "If I don't get out of here, I'm going to go crazy." I've even found myself thinking about how much work goes into leaving and making sure everything's taken care of, then flying halfway around the world and how tired and sick we are when we arrive and a little thought creeps into my head. Is it even worth it?

I know. I know. That's crazy. Of course it's worth it! I don't really mean that. But I keep having these thoughts floating through my head until it finally hit me the other day. I've adjusted so much to my new home that I don't feel like life here is that unusual anymore. I still have days when I get frustrated or haven't a clue what's happening. But all-in-all, I'm really comfortable living here in TZ and I, gulp, like it. I still miss things from the US, most especially family and friends. (And some foods.) But I've adjusted and it's not as hard as it used to be. I feel at home here.

I guess this is the beginning of feeling like I have a home in 2 places. And I won't ever feel completely comfortable in one place or the other. I am leaving home to go home.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hand-crafted Goods for Sale

While we are in the US on our vacation we will have some hand-crafted materials for purchase for those who might be interested.

One set of materials we're selling is to support Chris's work. One of Chris's women's group has been dying materials to make what is called vikoi (or kikoi in singular form). Vikoi are tie-dyed cloth with tassels on the end and they are commonly used for shawls, skirts, decorations, carrying babies, etc. Here is a sampling of what we have available to sell.

Various patterns and colors of vikoi.

Thanks to the generous donations from our friends, family and supporters, in the middle of last year we were able to sponsor the training for the women, which brought a facilitator in to teach them how to dye the fabrics. Here are some shots of that seminar.

The teacher showing the women how to prepare the fabrics for dying.

The women practicing folding the fabrics.

In addition to folding the fabrics, they tie it around bottle caps, which makes a nice pattern once dyed.

Dying and setting the fabric. (It's very caustic, which is why they are wearing scarves over their mouths.

Most women were very happy with their final products.

Since then, the women have been practicing their dying techniques, learning about quality control, selling some of their inventory, and building up money to increase their stock. We are so pleased to be able to bring some of these fabrics to the US to sell. It's great to see their pride in their hand-crafts and to see how creative they have become!

If anyone is interested in purchasing any of these vikoi, we're selling them for $10 each (or more if you'd like to make a larger donation). All of the money will be given directly back to the women when we return to Mwanza. This is a great way to support a disadvantaged group of women who are working hard to better their families and improve their lives.

Another set of materials that we are selling are hand-crafted goods made by Sister Peg Donovan's project in Kalabezo. Sister Peg is a Maryknoll Sister who lived in Tanzania for 45 years and just returned to the States. In her time here, she started a pre-school for kids and a craft school for adults in a village, which we were fortunate enough to visit a few months ago when we attended her going away party. The women at Vema (the craft school) make purses, change pouches, computer bags, glasses cases, etc. We are bringing home some materials to ship to Peg but she gave us the go-ahead to sell any if anyone is interested.

Assortment of purses, coin pouches, glasses cases, computer bags, etc. made my the women at Vema.

Closeup shot of purse with strap. We have this in many different fabrics. You can also see the small pouches to the right, also available in many different fabrics.

This laptop bag fits our Mac computer and it has an additional zippered pouch in the front. (Laptop not included, obviously! ;)

These goods are assorted prices, but Peg said basically to see what people offer. Isn't that the African way? So, if you're interested in any of these goods, let me know in the comments and we can talk pricing.

We don't have any pictures of the women making these goods, but I do have the following shots from when we went out to the village back in December for Sr. Peg's going away party.

The outside of the school. Vema means good in Swahili.

It's tradition at special events, such as goodbyes, that the guest of honor shakes everyones hand.

A lot of people came out for the goodbye Mass.

We have limited quantities of all the items and also, since we'll be driving a very small car to NC, GA, SC and MS, I highly suggest that if you want to buy anything you let me know either in the comments below or via email at kreid(at) That way we can be sure to set something aside for you and bring it along with us. Also, everything is one-of-a-kind, so if you see something you like, it may be the only one like it. Get it while supplies last and support great causes in Tanzania!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Goodbye, Old Friend

I'd be remiss in not saying goodbye to a Reid family member. Last week Chris's sister's long term friend, roommate and cat, Parker, died. She'd lived to a ripe old age and she had a blessed life, but still we'll be missing her terribly. In fact, we have 6 pictures on our fridge and 3 of them have Parker in them. She was a big lady. She was a sweet girl. She loved to talk. And I'm happy that our new little (read: big) cat looks just like her. I've never known the Reids without Parker.

In her cat scratcher during a visit to Chicago in 2011.

Queen Parker, 2011.

Best friends for life.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Our Wolf Pack Has Increased by 3

We just finished a busy but great week with our three new MKLMers and they are now en-route to language school for the next few months. Wow, it seems like only yesterday we were up there studying Swahili. Remember those days? Phew, I have to say I'm glad I'm through that tough period!

In the meantime, Chris and I will switch gears and start preparing for our trip to the States starting on Friday! We will be in NY, NJ, PA, NC, SC, GA and MS over the course of 5 weeks. It's going to be a crazy, jam-packed trip, but what isn't, right? We hope we'll get to see you! Also, we'll be bringing some hand-crafted goods to sell if anyone's interested in buying anything to support various MK projects. I'll try to post pictures of stuff before we come so you can see what we've got.

2014 crazy MKLM crew

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Zambia Recap

It's officially a new year, but before we move on I've got to get our Zambia pictures up online. I already  put a couple of shots up on this blog while we were away but here a little more of a recap, along with some videos.

The train was quite an adventure.

We flew from Mwanza to Dar Es Salaam on Friday, Dec 20 and then took the train from there, through the southern part of Tanzania into Zambia. It was supposed to take about 2-3 days, but as things happen in Africa, it took almost 4 days. We had wrong information about when the train would leave but luckily we got there very early because it left about 5 hours BEFORE we originally expected it to. The ride was fine and the views of the mountains in southern Tanzania were very pretty but toward the end we were pretty ready to stop rocking and be on still ground for a little while.

We met some nice Danish folks on the train and when they found out it was Chris's birthday on the 22nd, they gave him a mango and told the kids at our window, who then started singing happy birthday.

Zambian version of Happy Birthday.

When we finally arrived, we had to take a mini-bus for 3 hours into Lusaka, the capital. I think we are fortunate to have lived in Tanzania for 2 years and so we are already familiar and used to this style of transport (meaning, shoving as many people as possible, along with their luggage, into a 15 passenger van). After all that time on the train it just would've been nice to avoid that part.

Downtown Lusaka, near our hotel.

One of the really good things to us about traveling around Africa is that it puts things into perspective and we can begin to get a larger picture of Africa as a whole, but also of Tanzania. Zambia was definitely more "southern Africa" (as opposed to East Africa, where we live and had thus far traveled) and we were shocked at how different it was. I hope to write a separate blogpost about my thoughts on the development in Zambia, but let's just say for now that we could see some positives as well as negatives to the way the country has developed.

We spent one night in Lusaka, the capital, before taking an 8 hour bus south to Livingstone. But in that time before leaving Lusaka we managed to go to the mall and see a movie! What a treat!

Chris said it looked like King of Prussia Mall in Philadelphia.

We stayed in Livingston for 4 nights at the Fawlty Towers guesthouse. Not the same as this one, thank God but it was quite a nice place and we'd definitely recommend it.

Farty Towels

I took advantage of the pool as much as I could. It was blazing hot in Zambia!

We had a great experience at church on Christma morning. The Mass was in English but the music was all in their local language. I wish I could've gotten a picture of the band because they had a bass player and guitar player, as well as a drummer. They were totally jamming out!

This was the procession for collection, by the women of the church. It went on a full 20 minutes and when it was finished an old lady in the back yelled "Another one!"

We spent all of Christmas afternoon wandering around Victoria Falls National Park.

World Heritage Site!

Picutres will not do this place justice. So beautiful!


We have so many shots, it was hard to narrow it down for the internet. 

The folks you see standing on the other side are in Zimbabwe.

For various reasons we didn't get a multi-entry visa into Zambia, so we could only see the falls from this side. Victoria Falls are a mile long and only about 1/3 of it falls in Zambia; the rest in Zimbabwe. So all of this is only about 1/3 of it! Also, this is the low season for water-levels, so imagine how much more impressive it is when the water levels are at their highest. We hear you can't even see the falls because the spray/mist is so dense. 

Also, Victoria Falls is one of the world's most popular places for extreme sports. Bungee jumping, parasailing, zip-lining, white water rafting. People come from all over the world to take their life in their hands for the sake of "adventure." Okay, I'm being snarky and just joking. But seriously people, what the f-?

We heard bungee jumpers screaming all the way down. Is there something wrong with us that all we want to do is enjoy a leisurely stroll around the falls?

At the end of the day we ran into our Danish train friends so we all went out for a sunset drink. It was really nice to share this experience with some other folks. 

A great end to a great Christmas day.

On the day after Christmas Chris and I got up early and took a river cruise on the Zambizi. It was supposed to be a group tour but I guess everyone slept in because it was just the 2 of us.

And our fearless guides.

We saw this guy just sitting with his mouth open on the bank of the river.

We gave the hippos a wide berth so they didn't, like, knock our boat over or something.

The last thing we did in Livingstone tour/adventure-wise was take a walking tour. It started at 6:30 AM, which is a good thing because it was blazing hot by 7. Still, we managed to see a rhino up-close, a water buck and a lot of birds. 

We spotted this white rhino within the first 15 minutes of the walk.

He gave us a little show by rolling around in the mud.

Sharpening his horn. Look at the little eyes!

So beautiful.

I was hoping to see some elephants and zebras but I guess they were hiding out somewhere cooler, probably a wise thing to do because by the end of the 3 hours I was ready for the pool and a nap!

The weather had other plans though.

On the 28th we took the bus back to Lusaka and had a day to rest and see another movie. Nice! And after all that adventure, we were pretty ready to just slow things down and head home. Still, I feel so fortunate to have been able to make this trip, to see more of the world and to spend a low-key, stress free Christmas with my favorite person in the world. I wasn't sure how I would feel traveling on Christmas and not doing the traditional things but I have to say it was wonderful! I might advocate getting rid of gifts from here on out and traveling every year on Christmas. Seriously, that in itself is really a wonderful privilege and gift.