Monday, December 27th

Monday,  December 27th

Welcome to Tanzania

Our Tanzanian journey began with sleepless nights before our flight, 32 hours of transit from the Sioux Falls airport to Arusha, Tanzania, 2 hours in the airport awaiting our rapid covid tests, passport approvals, and inspection of our medical supplies we brought with us from the states. Wow. It was a long day. We got ‘la la kidogo’ —which is what the locals say to describe ‘little sleep’. After our short night, we journeyed to church with Faraja and his three little girls, who were so beautifully dressed in their Sunday best and ready to celebrate a confirmation  of Julius cousin.  Church was wonderful. We sang A cappella, African style Christmas hymns with people gathered from all walks of life. We all agreed that we were thankful to have a Christmas service the day after Christmas as we missed church due to traveling on Christmas Day. We also ran into a friend of ours at church! Alinda’s family knows the parents of Steve Swanson, a pediatric physician living in Tanzania who introduced himself and took a picture with us.

After church, we joined Julius, Hope’s Tanzania Assistant and his family for lunch and a confirmation celebration. What a celebration! Over 250 family members, friends and neighbors came to the 5 massive tents set up extravagantly  decorated with flowers and lights. Gospel music was blasting, people were dancing, and catered food was all brought in to celebrate this religious milestone. And let me tell you. These people know how to party! Conformation carries significant meaning to the Tanzanian people. They express how much Christianity means to them by how passionately they celebrate this event. From the very young to the very old, every member of this party was involved in the celebration—and that means us too! Julius introduced Gayle, Alinda, and myself as the Hope ministries medical team from the USA to all of the people—who were so welcoming to us.


Then we had a pleasant surprise! At this point, I had completely forgotten that it was my 21st birthday. After having at least 3 children rotating on all of our laps for almost the entire evening, dancing our hearts out with the kids, and eating delicious food, I imagined my night to be over. But Gayle had one more trick up her sleeve. I was told to sit in a chair, was blindfolded, then surprised with singing, and a beautiful pink birthday cake—specially made by Gayle’s favorite chef who has been planning this surprise since October. It was something that I will never forget! Who gets to say that they celebrated their 21st birthday in Africa? As I cut the cake with my new little friend, also named Abby, I was introduced to another African tradition. Birthday cakes are cut into little bite-sized pieces and served to all of the people by the birthday ‘newborn’ as they call it. After a little more dancing and celebration, we said our goodbyes and departed back to the lodge for some much needed sleep.

*We have better videos of the event than photos, but cannot upload videos with the Wi-Fi here. If you like to see videos of the dancing at the Confirmation and the surprise birthday party go watch them on our Facebook site!

Day 2.

Another beautiful day started out with a tour of Shanga, an organization who hire handicapped people to make glass beads and bottles, and weave blankets, bracelets, and much much more! We got an interactive tour of how they make each item, and gained a deep respect for how difficult it is to do it all. Each item you purchase comes with a little card describing the story of one of the workers whom you support through your purchase. We grabbed some delicious coffee, then headed back out to the markets to do more shopping and picked up a suction machine from the pharmacy in downtown Arusha. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed and supported us with the purchase of this machine, as it will be used to suction throats of kids with Cerebral Palsey and trach’s. This machine will likely save a life of a child who could have aspirated without it. Finally, we headed out to the Maasai markets to do some final shopping. Gayle showed us how to bargain as she has been to these markets many many times. To end our night, we continued to experience the culture as we ate supper in the dark 🙂 Again, thank you for your prayers and support, we appreciate continued prayers as we journey out to Maasai land to do outreach clinics.


Abby Dykstra