The Drive Was Beautiful

–Cheryl, submitted by Ben

I first awoke to chanting at the first light of day. I must have dozed off again as I next awoke to birds chirping, one sounding like a duck quacking. But I knew it couldn’t have been a duck in Iringa, TZ.

The Lutheran Church ‘innkeeper’ made a wonderful breakfast and everyone was ready to pack up and “hit the road.” However, there were things to do and buy in Iringa before driving to Ipalamwa. Mohammad laid out the morning plan, but I knew from last year not to expect things to go as planned. We left our things in one room and then loaded ourselves into the jeep and headed into downtown Iringa. First stop was the ELCT Iringa Diocese head office to meet the General Secretary and sign the book. Upon arrival, Mohammad learned we first needed to meet the headmaster of the Ipalamwa school and he was still on his way to Iringa so it would be another 30 minutes or so. A quick change of the schedule and we went to Barclay’s Bank for a few of us to get money at the ATM. Then on to “Hasty Tasty” to order our lunch and take-away for dinner. Mohammad then told us Mr. Mohani, head master, was still not in town so we had an hour at the internet café where we all checked e-mail, facebook, etc. for the last time in 2-3 weeks. When Mohammad picked us up, Mr. Mohani was with him. So we went back to the head office. However, upon arriving we learned no one was in the office that day except the Accountant. So, per the usual formalities I learned last year, we were greeted by the Accountant and escorted to his office. We signed the guest book and then went to the market where we met Momma Tony. She was very surprised and happy to see me. I introduced her to Cheryl, Rich, and Ben. We then went to the stationary store for exercise books, pencils, masking tape, and scissors. Cheryl also bought crayons, coloring books, and puzzles for the younger children. Rich stopped at a shop and bought two soccer balls. I was surprised at how much I remembered to get around the area with no one else escorting us. We then went back to “Hasty Tasty” for lunch and everyone enjoyed the lunch and talking to the owner.

Mohammad took us back to the church to wait. He then went back to the shop and told me he would pressurize Momma Tony and Mr. Muhani to hurry up. His plan was to leave at 3:00 pm and it was 2:30 and he hadn’t started loading. We ‘hung out’ and sat outside talking with each other and some of the primary students from the school by the church. One girl came up to Cheryl and I and read questions in English from her exercise book. She was very confident and read very well.

Mohammad pulled in with supplies loaded on top and a number of men in the jeep but no Momma Tony. The men were there to help load our luggage on top and finish loading the supplies  Tom, who was a Form 3 last year, arrived and he explained that he graduated/completed his exams for Form 4. It was good to see him and Mr. Mohani and I owe him a soda for graduating. Once having everything loaded we were ready except no Momma Tony. We drove to the post office and picked her up. We headed out of Iringa and we were stopped by the road construction. We feared it would be hours except some of us said it would be quick and it was. This was 4:30 pm… a little later than Mohammad wanted to avoid driving in the dark. The drive was beautiful and I remembered places from last year. We arrived just at dusk and were immediately welcomed by the students to sing and dance. We then ate dinner and set up our rooms and called it a night.

– Pam

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