Orthodox Christian Mission Center’s Blog

November 8, 2010

Four Weeks in Dar es Salaam: An Update from OCMC Missionary Felice Stewart

Glory to God for All Things!

Enculturation and language acquisition are proceeding. Sometimes I think it makes me tired because I am so old, but today I noticed that my young missionary companions were also tired. We went on a very special outing to the home of one of our language helpers. We met his wife, daughter and younger sister as well as five other children from the neighborhood. We had the exact number of lollipops needed. We went to a nearby (for us new and different) location of the Salvation Army where they care for girls with no parents, and to see the gardens of two of our language helpers. We got to try sugar cane from the stalk.

Another of our language helpers has taken us on two outings. First to a huge market place near downtown where they seem to have everything from clothing to fresh produce to hand made utensils and many things in between, and then earlier this week she took us to the National Museum. I have always found that knowing this kind of historical information has helped me to understand the current situations and culture.

This week I have been noticing things in the environment that have been there every day that I have been here, but I have not really seen them before. Walking home to TEC (a Catholic retreat center) from Salvation Army (where we lived at first and still go daily for language acquisition sesssions) yesterday, I realized that the place, which has so many trucks that you can barely find room to walk on the sidewalk by it, is a garage (actually a place where they fix trucks that is not inside a building). Many things happen outside here in the beautiful weather. Most of the places that we go to eat are not inside buildings.

Many times I feel like I haven’t learned hardly any Kiswahili yet, but other times I find myself able to supply words that others are struggling and reaching to find. We are learning according to the Growing Participator Approach where the initial focus is on listening and being able to recognize words and their meanings, and then speaking appears naturally later. We are referred to as GP’s and those helping us are referred to as nurturers. One of our nurturers is a language teacher who has been teaching her colleagues about this method. The other two nuturers are not teachers, and speak a little English. At times I am amazed at how we communicate with our few Kiswahili words and they communicate with their limited English.

Every Sunday when I am at church, I notice that I know more of the Kiswahili words, and understand the English (British English with a Kiswahili accent) a little better. I am getting to know the people at church a little bit now. The parish is clearly pan-Orthodox. So far I have identified people from India, Ethiopia, Congo, Cyprus, Greece, and Tanzania. Fr. David from OCMC was here one Sunday and so that service was in (American) English. Fr. David went from here to Mwanza and Bukoba with the Archbishop. Many of you have asked me what I will be doing here. When I last spoke with Fr. David, he mentioned that they will be wanting me to use my specialties which made me VERY happy. As I understand it, the current plan is for us to go from here to Mwanza perhaps as soon as the end of the month. There we would get to know the Archbishop and he could get to know us. After a period of time, we would go to Bukoba and start working in the hospital. We will still be working with nurturers on language acquisition and enculturation during this time.

People here are very friendly and help us learn Kiswahili. Yesterday as I was walking to language class I noticed a young man walking toward me wearing an Arizona (University of Arizona in Tucson) T-shirt. I greeted him like a long lost friend explaining that I lived there. He was very friendly and asked my name. With his limited English and my limited Kiswahili
the conversation didn’t go much further than that. I continued on toward class and stopped to chat with a vendor, telling him that he was sleeping sitting up by his booth when I passed by on my way home the day before. He confirmed that I had used the right Kiswahili words. Later one of the other missionaries explained to me that he is a 24 year old widower with two children.

Some of you have been praying with me for Mama J’s sister who has been ill with typhoid and malaria and will be glad to know that she is better, although not 100% yet. I request additional prayers for two more sisters—one who has come to Dar es Salaam seeking medical care for her heart problems and the other on Zanzibar who is suffering from a sudden paralysis. The other issue I ask for prayer about is that she is in danger of loosing her house, and that pressure is causing problems in the family.

Thank you so much for your prayers, support, inquiries and comments. I very much appreciate hearing from you and all of your support. I am hoping you will keep me posted about what is going on in your lives.

In Christ’s Love,

Felice Stewart

OCMC Missionary in Tanzania

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