Tales from Tanzania - O'Neil Family Blog

Though we have already been in Tanzania for one year, this is a journal of our time at Haven of Peace Academy in Dar es Salaam. Karibu sana.

August 26, 2006


We have them for ourselves, God has them for us and the world, others may even have them for us. Let me tell you about some plans we made to spend some time with my parents. We spent the month of July studying Swahili in Arusha in the northern part of Tanzania. After we finished our class, my parents flew out and met us in Arusha where we spent the next few days seeing the northern parks - Ngorongoro Crator, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire National Park - all near Serengeti. We had made many plans and they turned out great. Benjamin kept a tally of all the animals we saw: 49 lions, 56 hippos, 1 black rino, 47 giraffes, 102 elephants, and as he would say, infinity zebra, gazelle, water buffalo and baboons. All in all, we had a great time. It was great to see my parents and of course, the kids had a ball. We were completely pampered enjoying the amazing sites. Our plans were to travel by car back to Dar es Salaam to relax at home for a few weeks. Here is where our planning came to an end. The return trip is one straight shot from Arusha to Dar and we were more than half way back when we hit a standstill with traffic. As is the African way to utilize all unused resources, the road quickly became filled in with cars fitting into all available space. We were left unable to turn around or even move an inch. Steve walked up to the top of the hill to only see cars lined up as far as the eye could see. Rumor had that an accident had occured the day before and that cars were lined up for a hundred miles. As cars were packed in, rumor also had that we would be spending the night under or in our car. My mother first began looking for a place that would suit to go to the bathroom and I began to assess the food situation. A few hours later, the traffic began to move again but it was really only the beginning of unexpected plans. We had to take a detour to get back by sundown which involved 45 km on a bumpy road which left our car with a few less years and my parents with the desire to never travel by car in Africa again. We finally arrived home only to find the house completely covered in black soot (how do things get so dirty when they are closed up around here?), a flooded bathroom, a broken water main, and so little electricity that we would spend most of our evenings together squinting around in the dark searching for one outlet that had enough power to charge my father's camera batteries.

I would venture to guess that many Westerners leave Africa due to this issue: plans are foiled here. Try to make too many plans - either big overall plans or small daily plans and you will be exhausted or frustrated beyond what you can bear. But I would also see this as an amazing place to learn about God's plans. The Bible is full of God's plans - and He does have plans for each of us - but there is really not much written regarding our own plans. Africa is a great place to learn to set aside our own plans and watch for what God has planned.

We had a great time with my parents here. Some of our plans worked out. We got to go to Zanzibar and spend some time on the beach, they got to know some of our African and missionary friends here, they got to spend some good time with their grandkids, and they saw what life is like here. I wanted to post more pictures but I cannot figure out how to do more than one, so the one with my mother missing will have to suffice.

No matter what our plans - big, small - God's plans for us are always better than our own - and though maybe a little more bumpy than our own, always more exciting. Speaking of plans - I am planning to teach on Tuesday when school begins but my papers are still not approved so pray as we await God's plans on this matter and I will keep you posted!