30 June 2014

things i never thought i would say.

Moving to Tanzania has taught me a lot about the kind of person I am. It has pushed and stretched me, revealing the good, the bad and the ugly.

And it has caused me to say things I never thought I would say.

Here is a look at some of the verbatim surprising and humorous words that have come out of my mouth these past few months.

26 June 2014

getting our groove back.

So far, life has been difficult for us in Mwanza. We haven't minced words about that, from discussing the separation of our electricity meter from our neighbors to dealing with issues with our night guard. (Update: We're on to Guard #4. But that's a story for another day.)

Recently, we've been able to catch up with friends and family back in the United States and they expressed serious concern for us.

"Are you guys… okay?" they asked.

"Yeah, we're okay," we responded.

"No, but really. I'm worried about you. Your blog makes it sound like things are bad."

Sorry, guys! We're here to tell you: we're okay.

23 June 2014

the power rangers.

Let me give you some advice. Don't share electricity with your neighbors. We found ourselves in this situation. And it is no fun. Here is the story.

During our initial house hunting visit of our current home, we asked our landlady, 

"Hey, does this home share electricity with these three stores right in front of the house?" 

"No," she replied without hesitation. 

"Perfect," we said.

Fast forward one month and we are living in our home.

There is a knock on our front gate. Looking through the gate, I see a young man and I ask, 

"Can I help you?" 

"Yeah, I work in one of the stores right here in front of your house and I have come to check the electricity meter," he tells me.


"To see if we need to buy more kilowatts." 

"Wait, are you telling me that your business shares the same electricity meter as our home?" 

"Of course." 

19 June 2014


Since I studied abroad in Italy seven (eek!) years ago, I’ve prided myself on my ability to “adapt” to different cultures. Sure, I’m American. And in some ways, yes, I’m proud. But in other ways, I’m definitely not. Upon coming here, I was looking forward to shedding the American baggage that I don’t love and taking on aspects of Tanzanian culture that I would.

I’ve been shocked to realize, though, just how American I really am. It’s not easy to shed that cultural baggage, not in the least.

16 June 2014

the empty promise of a carefree life.

Let me tell you a story. It goes like this.

Once upon a time there was a land of enchantment called "Africa." People the world over were drawn to its natural beauty, exotic animals, and the promise of a more laid back, carefree lifestyle. Still others were lured by the ambition of working alongside locals to combat unjust structures and help alleviate poverty. Even the latter took comfort in knowing that the pace of life was more forgiving, providing ample time for rest and relaxation in order to appreciate the beauty of life around them.

I'll be honest. Before Ashley and I moved to Tanzania, I was enchanted by the notion of a more laid back, carefree lifestyle. After all, this is Africa, right? People are supposed to be chill. Life is supposed to move slowly. Animals are supposed to sing "hakuna matata"…or something.

I. Was. Wrong. That story bears nothing more than the empty promise of a carefree life.

Somehow as we reminisce about our life in the U.S. it sounds so much more laid back. So much more carefree. How is that possible?

We both had demanding jobs and worked a ton and overall maintained a very busy schedule. Yet, as I recall, I had so much more free time to do as I pleased. What gives, Tanzania?!

13 June 2014

reading rainbow - 13 june 2014.

After a few-week hiatus, Reading Rainbow is back making this Friday the 13th a good one. Check out the latest five weekend reads below!

12 June 2014

moral dilemmas and night guards.

Living in our own home has brought with it a whole set of new challenges that we didn't foresee. From sharing electricity with our neighbors to taking care of a dog, we are definitely faced with something new every day. Recently, it got a little tough with another one of those new relationships: the one with our night guard.

the guard's domain.
Not only have we learned a lot about employing a night guard in the last couple of weeks, we were also hit with a bit of a moral dilemma.

09 June 2014

i believe in you.

Last week I wrote about the work I am doing teaching entrepreneurship in Tanzania, helping young mothers to plan, start, and successfully run group enterprises. Just this past Friday, I facilitated an initial workshop with several of these young women.

Our three hours together left me with a lot of questions.
  • What do these young, Tanzanian mothers think of this entrepreneurship training?
  • Can they understand my broken Kiswahili?
  • How am I perceived as an outsider?
  • Or even as a married American man leading a group of young, single Tanzanian women?
  • Do they even want me here?
  • Am I adding any value at all, or am I just wasting their time?
  • Will I in any way contribute to a more full and dignified life for these young, Tanzanian mothers?
So much to think about.

Ashley and I came to Tanzania with grand ideas. We wrote about our vision here. People told us that we were naive - that we dreamed too big. And they were right…well, sort of.

05 June 2014

the not so fun reality of culture shock.

We remember a time when we loved life in Tanzania. We would happily greet everyone we came across. We tried new, local foods with gusto. We frolicked through fields of dagaa.

Yeah, those days are long gone. And what has taken their place is the hard reality of culture shock. What does this mean? Well, for starters, we're definitely not in Kansas anymore.

02 June 2014

teaching entrepreneurship in tanzania.

Let me begin by saying that Ashley and I are a bit behind on our blogging. Turns out our new home is in a mobile network dead zone, so we have had little to no internet access for the past three weeks. Thanks be to God, I think we finally found a solution to our internet woes!

 I digress.

Anyway, some of you may be wondering, "Michael, what the heck are you doing in Tanzania? I don't mean why you moved there. I just assume you are crazy. But tangibly, what are you doing with your time?"