Where to start…

This is bad.

My last post was after Joel and I got engaged!!!  And since then…

We’ve gotten married.. TWICE!
Which means we’ve been married for almost 6 months now.. what?!
We bought 2 puppies.. who are huge now!
My parents came to Tanzania!
Joel’s family came to America!
I’ve been back to the states.. THREE times!
I’ve traveled to Egypt and Joel and I honeymooned in the Seychelles!
I attended one of my best friend’s wedding
And.. a milllion other things in between!

A lot has happened in the past year, and now that I’m back in Moshi after the 3rd US trip, I am finally feeling settled after all of the activities! It sure has been busy around here!!

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Ok.. let’s take a brief look back, and see what happened after the engagement… we’ll start things off in October, 2018!

After the nursing course wrapped up in Dar es Salaam, I booked a last minute trip to the States to attend the FCCT Gala in MN, and to surprise one of my best friends for her bachelorette and shower weekend!!

I flew into Minneapolis, where I met up with my parents, AND, where it just so happened that my sister was also coming for an interview that weekend, so I got to see her and Ella, and squeeze in a little wedding shopping…which worked out wonderfully because I found my wedding dress!! Woohoo!! I only tried on, maybe 4 dresses, and once I found “the one”, I walked out with the dress and veil in hand (this dress has now been all over the world!)

Attending the FCCT (Foundation for Cancer Care in Tanzania) Gala is always fun because many of the people there are like my second family, and have always been a huge support to me and my work in TZ!  Being there, and seeing all the support for FCCT always re-ignites the passion in me to continue what I’m doing!! It’s always an emotional time (those movies they make just get you every time! Ha!), that’s for sure!! What we are doing there truly is amazing and it’s so cool to be reminded how far we have come in just a few short years!

After MN, my parents I went back to Ohio where the wedding preparations continued with dress fittings, meetings with venders, lots of shopping, and girl time! All fun things.. especially when you get to do them with your mama (aka: my Lima wedding planner)!

It also worked out that I was able to surprise my friend Maggie for her wedding weekend.. and, bonus, see some of my other girls!  Luckily Maggie has a great family and fiancé (now husband!), who helped me plan the perfect surprise!! Jeff, her fiance, took her out to a brewery after work, so as they were seated at the bar, I snuck up behind her and asked if I could take the seat next to her…..her reaction was pure shock!! Haha! It.Was.Priceless!!

The weekend was awesome… lots of girl time (and baby James time!), hanging out, mainly nursing home-ing it up, with some intermitent winery visits, dinners out, treats and oh yeah, a bridal shower! Basically… the perfect girls weekend!

It was a quick 10 days in the states, but it was so worth it!!

 

Once I was back in Moshi, it was all wedding…. celebrations, and lots of planing by the “committee” (more on that later..). We celebrated Thanksigiving in between, got engagement photos done, celebrated both our birthdays, and had an early Christmas in Moshi, because..

It was back to the USA for an American style Christmas with the Danik fam!!

I was so excited to bring Joel home to experience a cold, wintery, decked-out American Christmas! (I was a bit disappointed by the lack to snow in MN and OH, though!). And, by the end of it, he understood what I meant by that!! It was so fun spending time in MN with the whole family, and experiencing all the Minneapolis highlights.. aka: Mall of America!! Haha! It really was a magical Christmas- finally being able to celebrate our engagement together as a family, and have our first Xmas with Ella was so wonderful!

After Christmas, the party continued with Maggie and Jeff’s wedding in Cleveland…and boy was it a party!! (Joel was experiencing all kinds of firsts this trip… American Christmas and a big American wedding!)
It was perfect… the Christmas decorations, the church, Maggie kilin’ it in her dress, the band, seeing old friends.. and just overall, seeing the happiness of a friend who finally found her soul mate!! Another unforgettable trip home!!

 

So, then it was back to Moshi for the final Mtunga Wedding countdown!!  More celebrations, a surprise bridal shower, makeup and hair trials, and last minute dress alterations!!

Also, as some of you may have heard, planning a wedding here is a bit..shall, I say…different than our typical, bride’s side of the family pays for everything, bride basically plans most of it (you get the point..the bride is busy!).

Here, weddings are typically planned by the groom’s side; a committee (of men!) is put together to make all the arrangements and preparations, and the wedding is paid for by contributions from family and friends!  Pretty amazing, huh?! We followed *some of those things, seeing as this was a multi-cultural wedding 😉 .. Joel did put together a committee, one in the village with mainly family, and one in town, with friends.  We also had a smaller committee.. which did include ME!… and a few close family and friends.  I was very thankful for that, seeing as typically the bride doesn’t get a lot of say in the wedding! This girl didn’t wait this long for her wedding to not have a say in a thing..or 2! 😉  So, over the few months prior, the committees met (many, many times!) and picked out vendors, put together budgets, raised money, and assigned everyone duties for the day of the wedding! It was pretty amazing seeing the community coming together, and basically organizing a (400+people) wedding! The committee raised all the money for the wedding(!!!), found us a church 2 days before the wedding (eek.. the one we originally had cancelled on us 3 days before the wedding!), and pulled off a pretty awesome celebration!!  All in all, it’s actually a pretty cool tradition!!

It was truly a fairytale day, better than I could have ever imagined for myself!!  And, of course, I was so happy my parents, my friend Alyssa and some of my FCCT “family” were able to be here to experience it with me!!

My parents should probably write their own post about this experience, but it really was a family event- a true coming together of 2 families!! My parents got to take part in the goat “cake”, were wrapped in kangas by many of Joel’s family members, and given a cake as a sign of gratitude… all as a way to welcome them into the family!!  It was pretty special, and nothing like any of us had experienced before. (See below for the Goat cake- Before and After- haha!)

Overall, it was one of the best days of my life, and I feel so lucky to now be a Mtunga and be a part of such an amazing family here in Moshi!!

Here are some of my favorites from the day….

Ok.. this is getting a bit long since there is SO much to catch you up on… so let’s continue this in a 2 part post… stay tuned for all the activities following Wedding #1!

 

Missed you all, and happy to be back!

xo, Liz…now, Mtunga 🙂

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