In Tanzania, visitors are often welcomed with music. Since you are visiting my blog here's some welcoming music.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mwanza to Bukoba

 End of September and the beginning of October

Ten days after being discharged from the hospital, I left Dar es
Salaam with my fellow missionaries (James Hargrave, Michael Pagedas,
and Felice Stewart) and arrived in Mwanza.  Mwanza is where His
Eminence Jeronymos's archdiocese is located.  We spent a day or so
with His Eminence and then left for Bukoba, where we will live for the
next two years. We will be working at Resurrection Hospital and assist
in projects His Eminence requests of us.  His Eminence departed for
the annual synod meeting just before we left for Bukoba. 

End of October 

We have now been here for a little over a week.  We have continued to
unpack and gradually get settled in our final home for the next two
years.  His Eminence is schedule to return from Egypt at the end of
the week.  We will ask for his blessing to continue our learning
Kiswahili and gradually help at the hospital.  This is a very exciting
time especially for myself.  I have been itching to start clinical
work.  Even though I will only spend a few hours a week at the
hospital, I am so happy to start to "dip my pinky toe" into medical
care in Tanzania! 

September 17

17 September 2010
        His Eminence Dimitrios arrived from Greece. He wanted to take us out
for lunch.  To spend this time with  His Eminence (H.E.) and my team
before James left for Mwanza was very important to me, even though I
was feeling sick.  As the day went on I became more and more ill.  I
just thought "it's a virus, it will pass."  I had felt this way once
before since I have been here in Dar es Salaam and I was fine the next
day after giving my stomach a rest and staying hydrated.  I thought:
"I am an ER, I can treat a stomach virus."  My sick feeling got so bad
that I had to excuse myself from the lunch because the smell of the
food was too much for my temperamental stomach.  On our way home, H.E.
was driving, the car ran out of diesel and we had to wait for someone
from the Cathedral to help us get home.  At this time I was actually
feeling a little better.  We then made our way to the Cathedral where
H.E.'s stays while he is in Dar es Salaam.  Again my symptoms were
becoming worse and I requested that I lay down while we waited for a
taxi to take us home.  I got into the taxi and we made our way back to
the hostel.  The last road to our hostel is a VERY VERY bumpy one.  I
usually love the experience of bumping around in the car, but this
time was it totally different.  I had never felt this much pain, thank
God, so the tears came out in liters.  At one point, I had to quickly
ask that the car be stopped so that I could take a break from the
bumpy road.  This caused quite a traffic jam, as I was told later by
my friends.  I was able to, with the help of the taxi driver and
Michael, my missionary teammate in Tanzania, to get back in the car
and finish our trip back to our hostel.  I made my way up the stairs
to my room.  I got in my pajamas and laid down in bed.  Not much later
I went to the restroom and after felt a little better.  Felice, my
missionary teammate, came back into my room and we talked about the
days' events.   Our debriefing didn't last very long due to her voice
leaving her.  Felice reminded me she was just a phone call away if I
decided I needed to go to the hospital at anytime.  It wasn't even two
hours, after I went to the restroom a second time, before I realized
the pain started to increase in my stomach.  So I got myself ready for
a trip to the hospital and walked to Felice's room.  I woke her up and
we made our way to the hostel's reception area.  The taxi arrived and
we started the (seemed like a cross country trip) to Aga Khan
hospital, which was recommended by the hostels staff.  While we waited
I noticed my stomach pain had moved.  At the beginning of our trip to
the hospital the driver stopped to get diesel.  After filling up the
car, the pain continually increased in intensity.  The drive started
to become overwhelmingly painful.  It felt like we were only driving
over rocks and not a road.  On arrival to the hospital, I crawled into
the ER and was able to go straight back to a bed.  I cried in agony
and worked with the doctors and let them do what they needed to do to
find out why I was having this pain.  The pain never ceased even with
the pain medicine I was given.  Throughout the tests, I frantically
tried to call the team, Michael, His Eminences Jeronymos and
Dimitrios.  Many of the phone numbers I did not have so I continued to
call whomever I could reach.  I spoke with Michael and he started the
phone chain to notify the missions department at OCMC, and the local
clergy (Fr. Peter and Fr. Frumentios).  I was all alone because in
Tanzania the friend/family member's job is to pay for each item that
has been ordered by the doctor (doctor's order), take the blood to the
lab, and get the results.  Felice was playing many many roles that
night and she showed peace through it all.  It was incredible how much
she advocated, consoled, and had such peace about the whole ordeal.
Radiological and blood tests were done and it was discovered that I
had appendicitis.  I was numb.  The started crying and became
terrified that I was going to have to have surgery in Tanzania.  I
told the surgeon that I needed to speak with my parents and friends in
the states.  I then spoke with my parents and told them what was going
on. Since Felice was being my lab and bill payer, I felt very alone. I
told them, I am so scared over and over. Then my dad interrupted said,
"Katie you are not alone.  You are never never never alone never
ever.  You have Christ Jesus, His mother, Saint Catherine, Saint
Aidan, Saint Ann, Saint Brendan, Saint Elisabeth, the Archangel
Michael, Saint James, Saint Dimitrios, Saint Jeronymos, Saint
Innocent, Saint Nicholas of Japan, Saint Basil, Saint John the
Forerunner, Saint Elisabeth the New, Saint David, and all of the
saints in heaven.  My dad prayed with all my mom, Felice, me. Christ
Jesus, His mother and all of the saint in heaven were there with us in
Aga Khan hospital that night.  My father asked me soon after that, "Do
you feel like you need to come home?"  I immediately said "no,"  my
father, mom, and I all agreed.
        I have felt the calling to become a missionary in Africa for twenty
years.  My parents have been amazingly supportive all of these years.
Through all of the difficulties I have faced and will face during the
last twenty and next two years, it is all for my good of my
salvation.  Even though one of my worst fears came true, it has only
affirmed to me that I, can only with Christ Jesus and all of the
saints in heaven, can continue to assist in the mission in East
Africa.  This experience will not only help me to be a better nurse,
it will also help me be a better person. 
As a registered nurse (RN), I enjoy taking care of people when they
are seriously sick.  Many times it is hard to understand why someone
is so upset over to us, as medical professionals, is a simple task/
procedure.   Many time we as RNs think someone is over reacting to
their situation (getting an IV, or medication injection).  As RN's/
doctors we loose our compassion for peoples' fears.  We get too busy
and don't find out the important things that give the whole picture of
a person.
         I had been a patient before; in the doctors' offices, I have had a
day surgery before, and had to go to the ER once after having
surgery.  This time being the patient opened my eyes to something,
that I  sometime forget.  We all have a pasts or expectations (which
are sometimes real and sometimes not).  I concentrated on what needed
to do to the patient to get them better.  I didn't step back enough to
listen to them about their past experiences or pre-expectations about
medicine.  I understood everything that was going on, it was just
different.  I tried to be an obedient patient, but the medical system
is very different not to mention cultural difference, and language
Everything I had done, I had done to others hundreds of time.  I try
to understand and sympathize with my patients about their fears and
emotions that they might have when they receive unexpected news.  I
now know I truly did not have a clue about what patient's go through
when they are in the hospital. 

Early September Update

Greeting from Dar es Salaam, Africa! 

Beginning of September 
It has been almost three months since my arrival to Africa.  It is
nothing like I had expected as many things are in our lives.  The top
five on my list are:
                    --How intense the sun is! There is a wonderful
breeze everyday, but the sun's intensity is astonishing.
                    --Being loved by some and thanked many times by
                    --The mosquitos in Africa fly really slow, so they
are easy to kill. However, the mosquitos are also stealth with their
                    --How it is very easy to buy everything one needs
for daily living on the bus (dala dala) while sitting in traffic in
                    --I thought their would be more of a variety in
the food choices in the city. I can't believe how many "pub like" food
establishments there are in Tanzania. 
While I have been in Dar es Salaam, I have had many opportunities to
learn about the culture of the Tanzanians.  Once a week we went on
culture outings:  to the Tanzanian national museum, a tribal museum,
and went shopping in a district called Kariokoo. I brought tennis
racket, cutting board, congas (wraps that have many uses), tupperware,
postal stamps, and internet usage cards.
One weekend I was able to talk with a Maasai man, who lives at the
Salvation Army (where we have our Swahili lessons), and asked him if
he could show us the famous "Maasai jumping dance” (Adumu).  So he set
it up and got some of his friends!  We squashed 5 people into a taxi
and headed off to a remote area with no paved roads.  Surprisingly Dar
es Salaam has mostly paved roads.  We bumped, screamed (mainly me),
and laughed our way to where the Maasai men were preparing to adumu
(dance).  Our group of wazugu (foreigners) for the first time we were
not the center of attention. What I and you may not realize is that
the Maasai people are just much as a spectacle as Americans/
foreigners.  So we (Maasai and wazugu) came together to celebrate
Maasai dancing, but unintentionally celebrated our likenesses.    We
watched and cheered for 3 hours until they needed a soda break.  I
found out later that many in the Maasai tribe are Christian (mainly
Catholic).  Warriors are the only members of the Maasai community to
wear long hair, and spend a great deal of time styling the hair. It is
dressed with animal fat and ocher, and parted across the top of the
head at ear level.
The next day we visited a different parish, instead of the Saint 
Paraskevi Cathedral, The Dormition of the Theotokos in the Mbezi beach 
region of Dar es Salaam.  The church was located on the top of a 
hill.  The nave was no bigger than two dinning room tables placed side 
by side.  The church was packed.  Not counting the five of us, the 
faithful (including children) numbered twenty.  The music we witnessed 
was from the angels.  Everyone joined in singing the hymns and the 
service reminded me of the churches my OCMC short-team visited in 
2002.  I was part of a team of fourteen.  We stayed in a small village 
Kazsikazi.  We joined the people of Kazsikazi in building All Saints 
Orthodox Church.  Everyone even the small children of the village 
helped with bring the empty bags of dirt to us to refill.  We were 
given the task of digging out the area for the narthex. All Saints 
Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh, PA, sponsored the building of the 
church in the village of Kazsikazi.  We travelled with HE Jeryemos 
(then he His Grace) to multiple parishes around the Bukoba Archdiocese 
(now know as the Mwanza Archdiocese).  The singing of the little 
children, men, women: I could hear their gusto, passion, and love.  

Ninapenda Tanzania

Ninapenda Tanzania
    I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn Kiswahili and to
become better acquainted with the Tanzanian culture.  I am very
excited after class to use the verbs that I learned that day as I have
interactions with my teammates and the people around me.  The
Tanzanians as a whole have been remarkably patient and helpful as I
stumble to speak their native tongue--and I stumble a lot.  I take the
laughs and giggles as a sign of love and appreciation from the
Tanzanians as I try to speak Kiswahili.  It's like being a small child
again, stumbling to use the right word or combination of words as
needed.  And there are many things that I enjoy about Kiswahili.  For
example the double words: pikipiki (motorcycle) or buibui (spider)
make me laugh like a little girl.
   Recently our team had the opportunity to visit our Kiswahili
instructors' homes and families.  Near their homes is the Mbagala
Girls Home.  We had a tour of the grounds (you can see some of these
pictures at http://kwilcoxson.ocmc.org).  As is the case in many
orphanages in Africa, many of the girls at Mblagala have lost one or
both of their parents from HIV/AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis.  The
home is supported and run by the Salvation Army.  Pastor Wilson Chacha
is one of many people who keep the home running.  We met Pastor Wilson
at the conclusion of our tour.  We were introduced to him, and he was
told what our purpose was for being here in Tanzania as well as what
our occupations were.  He spoke minimal English, so I took the
opportunity to practice my Kiswahili, especially the words that I
recently learned.  I boldly told him "Ninapenda Tanzania" (I love
Tanzania).  He was elated to hear those words come out of my mouth.
He then asked in English "Do you want to live here?  Do you want to
become a citizen of Tanzania?  All you have to do is live here for six
years then you can ask the government to give you citizenship.  They
won't give you any problems.  They will happily let you become a
I truly believe "I love you" is the best phrase in any language!

Top 10 Tanzanian Things You can Buy From Vendors Who Approach You When You are Stuck in Traffic or Sitting Down for a Meal.

10. Water or Soda 

9. Sugar Cane, Pickled dates, or Tangerines/Oranges/Bananas 

8. Bumper Stickers or Posters of Celebrities/Presidents 

7. Packaged Cookies, Ice Cream, or Assorted Nuts 

6. Tennis Rackets, Children's Toys/clothes, Assorted Children's School
Supplies with characters/celebrities on cell phone minute cards 

5. DVD Trilogy of the lives of Barack Obama/Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete
(current President of Tanzania) and the Koran.  Any DVD for that

4. Watches, Belts, T-shirts, Shoes, Ties, Children's clothing, Hats,
or Jewelry 

3. Pillows, Beach Towels, Sweat rags, or Steering Wheel Covers. 

2.  One cigarette (not a pack)
And the Number One thing you can buy from Tanzanian vendors IS (wait
for it): Underwear 

Who needs Wal-mart?

Some Tanzanian Traditions and Culture brought to you by Mama Jango via katie

Note from the editor:  These are examples from different tribes and do
not represent the beliefs and practices of all the people of
Pregnancy and Childbirth
In some tribes in Africa when women become pregnant they move in with
their parents/grandparents/in-laws and live with them until the child
is born to learn how to be a mom and to learn about pregnancy and
Most women now are having their children in a hospital.  This is due
to a campaign started by the government to educate woman on how much
healthier it is to do this.  Sometimes the birth happens before it is
possible for the woman to get to a hospital.
Many women give birth and leave the next day from the hospital.  In
the hospital it is very common to have four women to one twin bed.
After birth, in some tribes, the woman is instructed to lie on her
stomach for 40 days and seclude herself and her baby during this
time.  This is also done when the woman is eating.  The women believe
that lying on their stomachs will flatten their bellies and increase
digestion.  After the 40 days the woman can move around more freely
and start doing the cooking and cleaning once again.
Naming of the Child
Many times family members will ask that the to-be-born child be named
after them.
Some families write down three names and let a child pick from a
Some women name their child after an event that happened during their
pregnancy.  The child could be named the Swahili equivalent to "year
of the big flood."  Example:  Many women named their sons "Obama" in
2009 when Barak Obama became president.
One the downside, sometimes a woman will become pregnant out of
wedlock, and the child is named the Swahili equivalent to "sadness" or
"unwanted".  This is due to the mother being scolded and harassed for
becoming pregnant out of wedlock.
Many children aren't named until 40 days after they are born.

Moving, Fr. Rucker's visit, and realization

  The past two weeks have had their ups and downs.  I think I 
finally left the honeymoon stage of being a missionary.  It is okay 
though; I am looking towards the future!  I have been so blessed to 
have the opportunity to speak and skype with my friends.  It makes a 
huge difference also to be able to skype with my folks. 
Two weeks ago we welcomed Fr. David Rucker and his son Ethan.  It was 
wonderful to be with them; we all had a great time together.  The team 
visited Father at the Catholic Hostel where he was staying.  Felice 
and I were very interested in the possibilty moving to this 
hostel.  Father and Ethan headed to Mwanza, the new Diocesan head 
quarters for His Eminence Jeronymos in the northern part of 
Tanzania.  Father was able to give us a quick report about his visit 
with the Archbishop, and there is a good possibility that we will move 
to Mwanza within the next two months.  This move will bring us closer 
to our final destination, Bukoba, where the Holy Resurrection Hospital 
is located.   
     A week later,  Felice and I decided to move into the Catholic 
Hostel just down the road from the Salvation Army compound.  We would 
still attend Kiswalhili lessons, get our laundry done, and eat meals 
at the Salvation Army.  The people at this new hostel are some of the 
most welcoming and good hearted people around.  Felice and I moved our 
luggage into the rooms with the help of our taxi driver and the 
hostel's very kind staff.  We, like many women, pack heavy bags, but 
important supplies are sometimes heavy.  We decided to get separate 
rooms this time around.  We feel very blessed to have been able to 
move into a more contemporary hostel.  In the process we met a very 
nice taxi driver named Bernard.  Bernard has become our personal taxi 
driver.  We just call him, and he comes to pick us up.  It is very 
nice to have one person to call and to have someone with whom we have 
a relationship.  I enjoy practicing my Kiswalhili with him, and I am 
finding that I am able to chat with people on the streets after I 
finally decided I would start conversing in the language.  Tanzanians 
are not only very grateful for someone's willingness to speak their 
language, but they are very patiently teaching us the proper 
     This past Thursday Mama Jango (our Tanzanian culture instructor) 
took us to one of the larger market places in downtown Tanzania.  The 
market was huge, and I took come very interesting pictures (please 
check the website for them).  Mama Jango made sure we didn't get 
scammed by vendors charging us too much.  She also made sure we didn't 
set ourselves up to be pick pocketed.  The afternoon seemed longer 
than it was; we all learned a lot and were able to purchase things we 
wouldn't have been able to purchase otherwise. 
     Classes with Christopher are going well.  Christopher reminds me 
everyday to "fight to learn Kiswalhili."  "Fight" he says "fight 
hard."  Christopher is not only my Kiswalhili teacher, he is also one 
of the guards for the Salvation Army, and he is also a farmer.  Just 
like in the states, Tanzanians have to work several jobs to make ends 
I cannot believe it has been almost a whole month since I arrived in 
Africa.  I told Felice today, "You know what I  just realized?  I live 
in Africa!!"   

First week in the field

Greetings from Dar es Salaam!!! 

I am sorry for my late update.  We are now online, but I am not.  I am
using my roommate's, Felice, computer.  I do have a phone number, but
no address yet.
011 + 255 + 07 + 565-12284 Remember I am 9 hours ahead of the States
using Central time. 
My skype is katychkared2 
God willing I will be able fix my Internet problem when we head into
town tomorrow.  Right now we are staying at the Hostel in the
Salvation Army headquarters.  Think summer camp with: touch and go
electricity, light dripping cold showers, sleeping under a mosquito
net, and everyone speaking Kswahili and British English around you.
You nowh have an idea of where I am right now. 
 The trip to Tanzania was full of events. Like "kidding around", for
those of you who know me well, and getting blank stares from the
employees at Heathrow airport.  Most of the time Felice had to rescue
me from these "situations."  Staying in the Yo-tel at Heathrow airport
for 4 hours. The Yo-tel was so worth it!!  I would HIGHLY recommend it
to anyone with a layover at Heathrow or Gatwick.  I can't and neither
can Felice, my travelling partner, describe or tell you how wonderful
and a true blessing, from our wonderful and gracious Lord, this place
was for us.  When I find where I put my camera, pictures will be
posted. I would also like to give kudos to British Airways for telling
me my English was horrible and serving us the best meals with free
wine.  The flight personal were very nice, except when they told me my
English was horrible. 
We slept off the jet lag as much as we could and I went out to dinner
with the boys, Michael and James (my teammates).  I had goat and chips
(fries).  The goat had "extras" in it and I tried to eat as much as I
could because I was HUNGARY.  The drinks were purchased first and had
to be paid for right then.  Then before dinner a waiter came around
and gave us a bottle of soapy water and hot water from a pitcher to
wash our hands.  No napkins at all or anything to wipe you hands off
with for that matter.  After dinner the man came back and let us wash
our hands in the same fashion.  Then finally, the amount for the bill
was shown to us on a large calculator and we paid and thanked them for
the meal.  We went back and crashed until 1pm the next morning. 
We had a tour of the Dar es Salaam city.  First we had to get there on
the daladala (bus).  The bus driver's lot in life is to fill up his
bus with people so that they can feel each other's breath on their
faces. "May I offer you a mint sir/mama."  Mind you the fee for this
"bus" is 250 shillings ($0.25) one way.  Think  of this "city" as a
suburb with traffic, where there are no rules and people who walk are
moving targets that have point on their backs for the drivers to hit. 
Sunday was nice and relaxing.  Services are served in Kswahili, Greek,
and British English.  I have missed and still love the doxology in
Kswahili.  The parish is small even though it is a cathedral.  Lunch
was a Steers the local MacDonalds of Tanzania.  At this fast food
joint pizza (Tanzanian style), Indian type food, and hamburgers
(Tanzanian style) are served. 
Kswahili lessons start with Christopher as my teacher.  Christopher is
a guard at the Salvation Army hostel where we live.  His English is
very good, but limited.  He is a great teacher and very supportive to
my very bad Kswahili.  Lunch was in town, where we tried to get cell
phones and USB modems, but were unsucessful at this because most
everything closes at 2 pm. 
Kswahili lessons continued.  Afterwards we went to the local market
(20 min walk) named Al-Jazireh's.  Then we returned to downtown and
purchased cell phones and USB modems, which don't work with Mac
computers very well.  I will be going Lala Salaam and will continue to
the best of my ability and depending on the internet to keep everyone
up to date on this life's dream of mine to serve "missiontanzania." 
Thank you everyone for your prayers, texts, emails, and love for this
past week!! 

8 days

The past few days have been filled with anxiety about the past few 
weeks.  Most of you probably already know that my maternal grandmother 
passed away from pancreatic cancer this past Friday.  Until then she 
was a "healthy 92 year old."  She had my mom when she was 40 years 
old.  I had just visited her in May.  I remember because I was off 
work with the shingles.  She actually looked "well."  A week later she 
was in the hospital with jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin 
and eyes).  I had a feeling that this would be the beginning of the 
end.  Two weeks later she is in a coma.  I was able to "talk" and pray 
with her on the phone.  I did all of the talking.  I won't be able to 
attend her memorial service because it is two days before I leave the 
country. Big is God I had the opportunity to talk with her before she 
departed this life. 

    I packed two weeks ago.  The bags are all over my bedroom...(oh
sorry the GUEST bedroom) floor (my dad calls the room I have stayed in
for the past 3 years, the guest room.  EVERYone thought I would be
overseas by now.  I never planned on living with my folks until I was
nearly 30. 
    So tomorrow will be a full day. 1) I will finish signing my car
over to the Grohs 2) Take my clothes to a women's shelter. 3)  Finish
my thank you cards 4) Have lunch with my mom at the East side Cafe. 5)
workout 6) Pack FINALLY...and then I won't look at it. 
    Someone asked the other day: how does someone "pack" for two years
to live overseas?  Answer: I have no idea, I just work here. 
    Five questions: I love 
1.  This one is asked to my mom: Aren't you scared that she could
Seriously, do you WANT to make my mom cry? 
2.  Are you insane? 
Yes, why are you just now realizing that? 
4.  Are you excited about going? 
No, this will be the hardest job I will ever have, but it will be the
best job I will ever have.  I guess you could say I am ready for an
adventure and to have darts thrown at me =) 
5.  You have to "pay" to go work for free? 
Isn't that what we all did DURING SCHOOL?  This is how mission work is
done and I love it! 
Finally, I am so very happy to have the chance to share with you on
this new journey towards my life long dream.