And it's pretty obvious that they really don't remember where we live or what we are doing.
If this is you, first of all, don't worry. While you are frantically trying to remember the details about us, we are frantically trying to remember the details about you. After all, you might have sent us your Christmas letter, but we didn't memorize it. We don't expect you memorize everything we write about either.
So since we'll be seeing many of you soon, here's a summary to bring you up to speed. If you want to send one to me as well, I would love to read it!
Where are you living?
We've lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for 13 of the last 16 years. Dar es Salaam is coastal and near the equator, which means that it is hot and very humid most of the year. It never gets cold. (My kids start shivering at about 80 degrees.) Lots of palm trees. Just minutes from the ocean.
Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania. It has about 6 million residents and is rapidly growing. We live in the northern part of the city, about five minutes from Haven of Peace Academy.
What is your life like?
We rent a three bedroom house which has electricity and plumbing (though using totally different systems than what you would be used to). We have air conditioning in our bedroom. I have a gas stove. We own a generator. We have one car.
During the years we have been here, our standard of living has continued to improve. We have a supermarket ten minutes away and we even have Pizza Hut. Internet has continued to massively speed up, and this year, we've even been able to stream American TV shows. We lack a lot of the conveniences of the States, but we are not suffering. But maybe living thirteen years in a developing country has changed our perspective on what suffering is.
Yes! Tanzania has some of the world's most amazing and beautiful game parks, including the Serengeti. (Gil took that picture!) The closest reserve is about 5 hours drive away from us, so no, we don't see wildlife on a regular basis, unless you include goats, chickens, and large lizards. Oh, and hedgehogs. And that snake that appeared in Lily's bed. But that was only once.
What is your ministry?
During the last three years, we have been partnering with Mark and Alyssa Dunker to establish Reach Tanzania Bible School, a theological training program for Tanzanian pastors and church leaders. Students take 10 classes during one year, with each class lasting one week. Students go back to their churches and ministries in between classes and apply what they have learned.
Gil also does a variety of training sessions in different churches and ministry programs.
Where do your kids go to school?
Just the best school in the entire world. But I guess I'm biased, considering Gil and I served there for 10 years before we joined Reach Tanzania, and in August I'll be going back on staff as Elementary Principal.
By the way, HOPAC is still recruiting teachers for next year, so if you know a teacher looking for the best job in the entire world, point him or her in my direction.
What are your kids' names again?
Grace is eleven and in fifth grade. She loves playing soccer and basketball, crafting and creating, and reading (her current favorites are the Percy Jackson series). She is a total social butterfly and makes friends quickly.
Josiah is nine and in third grade. He is a sports maniac. His favorite is soccer and he can talk for hours about British Premier League soccer, but he is pretty much interested in any kind of competitive sport.
Lily is eight and in second grade. She loves dolls and drawing and nurturing small children.
Johnny is five and will be starting kindergarten in August. He is fascinated by vehicles of any kind but also loves puzzles and anything his siblings are doing.
How long will you be in the States?
Four months, until the beginning of August. We will be all over California.
Anything else you want to know? Ask away!