Africa is a hard place to describe to people; you can’t explain it with words, or even with pictures. It is a place that must be experienced.
I was so happy to have my parents here, to truly experience Africa, to take in all the sights, smells, tastes and sounds that are unique to this special place. I was anxious to read their posts after we returned, to experience Tanzania through their eyes..
So, welcome Mama na Baba yangu to Blessing the Rains..
It has been almost a month since Frank and I returned from Tanzania and at times I have to stop and think, “was I truly there and did I experience a tiny bit of my daughter’s life in Africa” and the answer is YES. The 16 days we spent in Tanzania were so incredible and so wonderful.
We witnessed the beauty of Mt. Kilimanjaro from all over Moshi. We were able to do a Kilimanjaro day hike, which was just a small part of the mountain. I was always impressed that Liz and Sarah Nickel climbed to the top…but now I am REALLY IMPRESSED!!!
We experienced the city life in Moshi and all the crazy drivers in town. We saw all of the incredible women carrying their fruits and vegetables on top of their heads, walking down the gravel roads to get to their fruit stands. We witnessed the beauty of the sunsets from the island of Zanzibar and swam in the Indian Ocean.
We witnessed the beauty of the Momma elephants and her little ones, Papa & Momma Lion with their “cute” cubs, saw Giraffes munching at the top of the trees, saw Momma Cheetah and her cubs on the road in the Serengeti Plains, saw Zebras, Wildebeests and many more animals. It was truly a once in a lifetime Safari experience!!
Towards the end of our visit, Elizabeth asked us if we had a favorite part of the trip. I thought to myself…Wow, its hard to say what the best part was because everything we did and saw was so different, incredible and beautiful. But, if I had to say the “best” part, it would be meeting Joel in person. Yes, we’ve talked over FaceTime but it’s not the same. We witnessed for ourselves a very warm, generous and loving man who would do anything for Elizabeth and the feelings are mutual for her. They do have that “special bond” and as a parent it feels so wonderful to see her so happy, and Joel too.
We were able to meet some of Joel’s family members and their close friends. Everyone was so warm and inviting and included us as part of their family. I could tell that they deeply care about Elizabeth. We were also so privileged to meet her co-workers (who are like family too) at the Cancer Clinic. They truly value her as a person and as an oncology nurse. We even witnessed first hand their care & concern when she became ill for a few days.
We left Tanzania with heavy hearts because our “little girl” is so far away but I know both Frank and I are very happy because she is happy. I know this may sound like a cliche but as any parent knows you will always worry about your children and their happiness is what matters to you the most.
We saw why she loves Tanzania, why she loves the people there, why she loves the work she does but most of all why she loves Joel.
I know we will be returning to Tanzania again and it will be wonderful to get to know everyone that Liz calls family, so much better. God has truly blessed Frank and I and our families. We pray for God’s blessing on all of you and we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Side not from your’s truly: My mom was a real trooper this trip- just going with the flow with all the little African mishaps. #TIA!! However, I feel like she probably learned a few valuable lessons about life in Tanzania:
1. Take toilet paper with you wherever you go! Toilet paper is not something that you should take for granted! Haha!
2. Get a hot shower in while you can, you never know when the power will go out!
3. Just close your eyes and buckle your seat belt while driving! Sometimes it’s better NOT to see the near-miss accidents!
4. Get those quads in shape before you come- you never know when you will have to do a full on squat while going #1…or worse #2 in a hole!
5. Come hungry.. Tanzanians love to feed you!
6. Learn to sleep through the 4am rooster wake-up call!
7. And overall.. just enjoy the ride, even if it involves cars stuck in the mud, rain and a lurking lion!
Bless the Rains down in Africa but not the mud!
Who would have thought that our shy daughter who was so quiet as a child would embark on a journey that would ultimately include an oncology clinic at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, working with amazing people who do amazing things everyday.
Life is a journey with many paths to choose and with many timelines that must all cross at the same time despite obstacles in order for that “enchanted evening” to happen. Who would have thought that would happen in Tanzania and result in two different people meeting and falling in love. Thus begins the Story of Liz and Joel.
What a remarkable journey that no one would have predicted. Joel is an incredible, loving person, wise beyond his young age. We are all shaped by family and friends who love and support us and Joel is blessed with both. We were able to meet and spend time with many of Joel’s family and friends, all of whom are wonderful! They are all loving and caring people, who are very supportive of both Joel and Liz.
We had an amazing trip beyond anything we could have imagined. We experienced first hand the enormous support system Liz has with friends who have become family. She works with amazing people who swim against the tide to overcome daily obstacles to provide incredible loving care to patients.
The safari was truly a National Geographic experience. We saw Mother Nature at her best parading an environment for a wide array of animals to freely roam. We became best friends with Simba who decided to sleep next to our vehicle. What a wonderful world we live in. We experienced what community really means while stuck in the mud on the Serengeti Plains. Watching strangers come together to achieve a common goal is truly remarkable.
Life is truly wonderful. We have so much to be thankful for, especially at this time of year. It is so amazing to be privileged to experience life through your children’s lives. We are blessed with two remarkable daughters who made remarkable choices and blessed with Nick, Ella and Joel.
Bless the rains down in Africa and the sunshine on the plains of South Carolina.
GOD shapes our lives in ways we can only experience when we allow it to happen.
My final words.. sorry, I know this was a long one:
Mom and Dad, I can’t thank you enough for 1. Your willingness to come out here, and 2. Your enthusiasm, excitement and openness to fully expereince Tanzania!! Everyday you impressed me more with your new Swahili phrases, trying the strange “little fish”, taking Joel and all his friends in as family, helping push a safari car out of the mud.. barefoot!, truly being interested in getting to know about Joel’s culture, willingness to be in situations out of your comfort zone, camping in the cold and rain, and overall, just being open to everything Tanzania had to offer! It was so fun showing you my new town (and impress you with my driving skills!), introduce you to my work family, friends, and especially to Joel. Hearing that meeting him was one of the highlights of the trip makes me so happy!! I was so proud to introduce you to him, and I knew you’d love him just as much as I do! He, of course, loved you guys too (as everyone does!) and loved sharing his family, culture and life with you!! We can’t wait for your next trip back- Karibu tena Tanzania!!
Love you guys more than you know- I am so blessed to have you as my parents!!!
P.s…I will put up more pictures of their trip on another post.. there are just too many good ones, and not enough space on this post! Ha. So stay tuned!