Saturday, October 19, 2013

Over a Month Already?

First, I want to apologize for not updating my blog in such a long
time. A lot has happened since the last time I’ve updated. The first
thing is that I am in Tanzania and have been here for over a month.
And what an awesome, crazy and busy month it has been. I will start
from the beginning, but there is much I don’t have time to write down.
We (Emily and Lindsey—two other girls who also joined VSI the same
time as me) arrived late in Da and were picked up by Mr. Edgar. Mr.
Edgar is the headmaster at Madisi and is so awesome. He took such good
care of us and quickly became our friend. We spent a couple days in
Dar getting over jet lag and exploring the city some. Then after a
couple days we took an 8 hour bus ride (let’s just say that without
Mr. Edgar, we would still be stuck in Dar at the bus station) to the
city of Mafinga. The bus ride, even though was long, was awesome. We
got to see the country of Tanzania. At one point we drove through a
National Park and I was able to see a couple elephants and giraffes.
We reached Madisi a couple days later and our training started. We
were each paired with a student and left for her house. My student’s
name was Jennifer. She is a very smart, awesome and dedicated student.
I truly learned so much from her. I will never forget her or her
kindness that she showed me. The two weeks that I lived with her in
Madisi were truly amazing. I swear that it might be one of the
prettiest places I have ever seen (apart from where I am now). The
terrain is extremely hilly (almost mtns) and with a bunch of forests.
Our daily walk was up a huge hill. Let’s just say that I would go very
slowly, while students would be running up because they might be late
for school. I met a lot of good friends there and I look forward to
seeing some of them in December when we all go back for Christmas
I left Madisi with Emily, Lindsey and our friend Jovi (who was to be
our guide) on a Tuesday morning to start our long journey to our new
schools/villages. I am at the village of Ninga. It is located in the
Rukwa Region which is in the south of part of Tanzania. I arrived at
Ninga Secondary School on a Thursday night. My time here has been
great! I have met so many awesome people. I live at the teacher’s
house by the school with two other female teachers, but there are also
5 male teachers who live in the administration building. The terrain
is BEAUTIFUL! I have large, rolling hills surrounding me! Everywhere I
look I see one! I also look out and see small square fields and cows
(which totally reminds me of home) all over the place! While I’m
teaching, I look out my classroom door and think “Is this truly where
I get to live for the next 9 months?” It is currently the dry season,
and the hottest month (80-90s in the day but with wind so it’s not
superhot) but I have also been told that it will start raining any day
now, but the raining season starts in November. I’m told in the rainy
season, everything turns super green! I’m looking forward to seeing
this side of Ninga!
I have been busy teaching English and Math to 8 wonderful students (5
boys and 3 girls). Please pray that God will send more and more
students, especially girls. Girls here in Tanzania are not always
given the opportunity to get a secondary education, so VST (Village
Schools Tanzania) is really trying to target this area of need.
Education for these girls is a huge solution to some of the problems
that are present here.
Speaking of girls, I have truly gotten to know almost every girl who
attends school. Because they live at a hostel here at the school, I
have been given a chance to develop these relationships. It started
with two very special girls who were asked to help me the day to day
things (washing clothes, cooking, fetching water, etc). Sicilia and
Martha are two amazing girls! Martha wants to be a doctor and Sicilia
wants to be a teacher—two dreams that can come true because of what
VST and God are doing here. I try to spend some time after school with
all the girls. Because they all want to teach me Swahili this is
usually a time that is filled with them all speaking Swahili very
slowly and me still going “what does that word me?” or “How do I say
this in Swahili?” But they are very gracious and patient teachers. I
have even begun to understand very basic conversations and can string
together sentences that are grammatically incorrect and would make a
first grade teacher cringe. I also spend some time with them at night
before we go to bed. This is my one of my favorite times of the day.
Like true girls, they all love playing with my hair, dancing, singing,
and talking. So this is what we do! Their laughter is one of the
sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard. I have also had the privilege of
being introduced to many of their homes in the frequent trips to the
village that I make (also another one of my favorite activities). Many
of their families have also become my friends.
I also want to say thank you so much for your prayers! I know that it
is because of them that God has been blessing me and my time here! I
am reminded daily that if I rely on my own strength, resources, and
knowledge and assume that I can handle all the problems on my own,
without from God, my time here will be wasted. It is only through
Christ that anything can happen. This reminder comes daily when I have
to say to a mama “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you are saying.” and
they graciously take me by the hand and just sit with me trying to
teach me Swahili or Kifipa (local village language). Or even the way
that the children of the village follow of me, and how they are so
willing to learn even a small phrase of English from a strange, white
Also, thank you for the prayers for me and my family as we mourn the
loss of my Grandpa, so many miles apart. I am so thankful for the
blessing my Grandpa gave me back in March. He told me that even though
I would not see him for a long time, he was proud of me, that he knew
that I was following God’s calling and that he would never stop
praying for me. To hear one of the patriarchs of my faith, from a man
who lived his life every day putting his faith in Christ, say that he
was proud of me means so much. Nothing could be sweeter! There could
have been no greater gift that my grandpa could have given me. I
rejoice for my grandpa, but I mourn for those of us left behind. I’m
also choosing to celebrate his life by trying to follow in his
footsteps and live my life daily for Christ. Not because I can repay
Christ for what He’s done for me, but because I love Him with all that
I have!
I do not know how often I’ll be able to update this blog, but I am
trying to send a weekly email. If you would like to receive them
please email my mom at, and she will add you to
the list. The best way to reach me is also through email at
Thank you again!
In Christ,
Alexandra Dodde

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Tough Question

How does one get physically, mentally and emotionally ready to leave everything that is known and comfortable for a year? This has been the question that has been floating around in my brain these last couple days. As I begin to check things off my to-do list labeled “Things to do before Tanzania”, I’m beginning to realize that this is a fair and difficult question to answer.
Physically seems to be the easiest, so I’ll start with what I’ve discovered. Two 50lbs suitcases seems incredibly small when it’s compared to the huge pile of things I see sitting in the corner or my room that I need to take with me. By deflating soccer balls, putting items in my shoes, rolling up my skirts, I just might have enough space, and if that still doesn’t work, I’ll put it in a tub to be stored for a year in my sister’s basement. I guess if it doesn’t fit, I won’t miss it, right? I love looking at all the donated items in my pile from all of my friends and family! How immensely I’ve been blessed! Once again, God exceeded my expectations! These will most definitely be the first things I’ll pack! I’ve also done other things, like cleaned up my bedroom, cancelled my cell phone, called my credit card company, and put my car into storage. It seems like the list is getting larger rather than smaller, but I know that it will all get done. On a side note, if you would like to be in contact with me email and mail (yes, I mean snail mail) would be the best. My email address is (but I might be getting a different one for when I’m there) and my address will be: Alexandra Dodde c/o Village Schools Tanzania, Box 183 Mafinga, Tanzania. I will be receiving another address once I get to my school, once I get that address, I will put that on here as well! If you would like to receive email updates, please send me your email address and I’ll add you to the list.

Mentally and emotionally are both extremely difficult. How does one mentally prepare herself when there are still so many questions that I don’t know the answer to, and won’t know the answer to until I’m actually in Tanzania? I guess I’m just trying to remain incredibly flexible! I always considered myself as flexible before this whole journey, but my flexibility has been tested over and over throughout the preparations! I actually love it! All of these unknowns are drawing me closer to God, because I’ve had to learn to give up control. James 4:8a says, “Come near to God, and he will come near to you.” Oh to have Christ draw near to me is what I strive to live for in my life!

I cannot even begin to estimate the many times I’ve answered a question with “Well, I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I’ll know the answer when I get there.” I’ve just completed the Bible study “Stepping Up” by Beth Moore, with my mom, sisters and a couple other amazing women. The Bible study is about how our life is a pilgrimage towards Mt. Zion. I always love God’s timing. There could not have been a better Bible study for me to do this summer. One of the things that Beth Moore talks about is the unknowns of life. We’ve all had them, the things that happen when we want to just ask God, “why?” Why did you let this happen? And through this journey I’ve had a lot of why moments. But one thing this journey has taught me is, I don’t know the answers but the people of VST (Village Schools Tanzania) do, and trust me, their answer is a whole lot better than the one that I could try to conjure up. Just like with our whys before God. We don’t know the answers, but He does, and He has very good reason for them. Deut. 29: 29 says “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” “What God has revealed to us are meant for us to study, ponder, teach and share. The secret things however, belong to amazing, all-knowing God.  Over and over Scripture attests that God can do no wrong. It also blatantly assures us He is sovereign and could stop any ill. How can I make those ends meet? I can’t…but God can and one day will.” (Beth Moore, Stepping Up) Beth goes on to say, “Out of the ashes of the unfathomable, sooner than later our Lazarus-faith must rise from the dead-questions still unanswered-or the Devil has won.” Anselm, an eleventh-century English monk says,

“I do not seek, O Lord, to penetrate thy depths. I by no means think my intellect equal to them: but I long to understand in some degrees thy truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do no seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe, that I may understand.”
Emotionally. Man, that’s a tough one. How do I prepare to say goodbye to my family? To say goodbye to my friends? Once again, I have to leave that up to God. Psalm 84:7 says, “They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” God promises us the grace that we need for every situation. God’s grace is like the manna that was given to the Israelites when they were wondering the desert for 40 years. If they would try to save the manna from day to day, it would turn moldy. How often do I try to use the grace that God gave me for one situation for the situation that I’m currently in? I know that God will give me the grace that I need to step onto that plane. It will be different then the grace that I needed for any other situation I’ve been in. Thank God for his custom and daily grace!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

1 Month

     Well, exactly one month from today I will be on my way. My flight leaves at 9:45 on Saturday, September 7 (looking at the clock know I realized that it's actually 9:45). As my time comes closer, I'm getting more excited, but then I get somewhat nervous, then really excited, and that's the way that my emotions go. Yesterday I was sitting at the airport waiting for my mom to come pick me up from a weekend trip that I went on, and I couldn't help but think "Next time I'm here, I'll be leaving." I was sitting there for awhile and I saw a lot of goodbyes but also welcome homes. It was a good foreshadowing to what I will be going through in the next month. I've had to say goodbye again to several of my friends. What made it easier was knowing that we all have something very exciting going on and lots of changes! So I know that the next time I see them, it will be epic!

     This month is going to be extremely busy. I'm still trying to figure out all what I need to pack and how I'm going to be able to fit all the stuff and the donations of school supplies into my suitcases! It's a good thing I like puzzles because I have a feeling that it will be a lot like trying to put together a very large puzzle. I also have a lot of family time this month. In a couple weekends my whole family is going to North Carolina for a family vacation! I'm super excited to be able to spend a week with my family! I pray that The Lord will truly bless the time that we have together!!!

     I also received some information on what my first couple days in Tanzania will be like. Reading the information was super exciting! It made the fact that I'm leaving really soon seem more like a reality instead of an event in the future. I will be arriving in Dar es Salaam late on Sunday evening. I will be picked up from the airport by a group of Tanzanians and they will begin the process of integrating me into the society and culture of Tanzania. I will spend my first day in their care doing the activities that they have planned out for me including: eating, shopping, Internet cafe, nap and a shower. From there I will travel across the country by bus to the city of Mafinga. On this bus, I will be "on my own". Along the way, I'll be given water and a soda and some crackers so that I might learn what it feels like to be a little bit hungry, and then when the bus stops at a roadside place, I will be able to enjoy Tanzania cuisine. After a night in Mafinga I will hopefully make it to the village of Igoda where I will be living and training for the next two weeks. Sounds exciting!!

     I was given some really good advice by a lady in my church who has done a lot of mission work. She told me "Don't try to keep one foot in both worlds." Meaning that when I'm in Tanzania, I need to not think about what I might be missing back in the States, or what my family might be doing at that time. It also means that I will try to fully immerse myself into the culture and the lives of the people I will be spending my time with. Truthfully, this is the part that I am most looking forward too! I'm looking forward to making relationships with my students as well as the adults of the village, I'm also looking forward to eating the food and learning the language and customs! When I think about that, the nerves that I was talking about earlier go away and is easily replaced by excitement!! I'm also really excited to be a part of the amazing things that God has in store for me! I know that He has gone ahead of me, and is preparing everything in advance! Oh, the joy of being able to be a part of that experience.

     Thank you again for your prayers and to everyone who has signed up for a week of prayer! I have only 27 more spots before every week is covered at least twice and some three times!! Thank you!

     In Christ,

Alexandra Dodde 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Power of Prayer

     September 7. I am about 99% sure that September 7 will be the day that I leave. A little over a month away. It has been amazing how quickly the time in MI has flown. Although, I know that my last couple weeks are going to go even faster. I have already mentioned earlier that I have been home soaking up the family time, and I will have even more family time coming up. I will be spending my last couple weeks here continuing to prepare...packing for a year for both my stuff and the items I'll need for school, waiting in anticipation as I wait to know what village I will be spending my year here, and working through everything else that I will need to have in order to be successful in my time in Tanzania.
     The last time that I posted I mentioned that I was incredibly blessed by the many people that I have shown me their support! Once again I am totally blown away. This past Friday we had our steak dinner and this was again another time when I have felt beyond blessed. Seeing all the people who came out brought tears to my eyes. There were people from all over the community that I have not seen in a couple years. It was so good to talk to them and catch up with them. It means so much to me to be a part of a community that truly takes the commitment they made when I was baptized seriously. I once again know that I will not be going to Tanzania alone, but I will be upheld with lots of prayers. Once again, I was blown away by God's amazing love and blessings.

There was a steady stream of people throughout the whole night. I think that we ended up with around 160-200 people! It was truly a blessing!!!

                                                                          We went with a theme of Safari. It turned out really cool looking. Although I was asked several times at the store when I was filling out the balloons if they were for a kid's birthday party! I thought we would have to be one balloon short. The lady filling them up accidently let one go and it flew to the ceiling! After a several minutes we were able to get it down with another balloon and tape! The idea super smart!  


  My niece was camping the whole week and was super tired! She fell asleep on the way to the dinner and was able to sleep through everyone talking and shouting! She truly must have some Dodde in her in order to sleep! Although, she did finally wake up and was able to enjoy a hot dog, finger Jell-O and of course some ice cream and she might have had a Root Beer Float as well!!

                It was nephew's 7th birthday on the night of the steak dinner so we had to celebrate his birthday too!!! It was a great night all around!!!

     Now I would like to ask you for yet another favor. I broke down the year that I will gone into all the different weeks. I'm asking that at least 2 people/families (some weeks 3) sign up to pray fervently for me on the week that they signed up for. I have several people who have already signed up for this, but if you would like to sign up for this as well, please just let me know. I can try to sign you up for a specific week or I can fill you in an open spot. The power of prayer is amazing and I know that without the prayers of so many people I will have a harder time staying and living in Tanzania. Some specific things are:
     -The spreading of the gospel
     -That God will blow my expectations out of the water
     -That God will use me
     -The introduction of special education
     -The many people I will come in contact with
     -That I may develop meaningful relationships
     -That I may learn the language

     Thank you again so much for your support! It truly does mean more then you can imagine!!! As always, if you have any questions, please just ask me. I will do my best to answer them!!!

In Christ,

Alexandra Dodde

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Big Thank You!!!

Wow! Sometimes when I think about everything that has happened since I’ve said yes to going to Tanzania in the fall, wow is all that I can say. God has not stopped surprising me with many, many blessings.

I’ve been home for a couple weeks now, and it’s been a good time. I’ve been soaking up some family time and truly enjoying every moment with them all. I know that the fall is fast approaching even though it’s only the middle of June. I know that the end of August will be coming faster than I can even imagine. As each day comes to a close, I’m getting more and more excited, and can I be completely honest, a little nervous as well. There are still some unknowns about the fall. What village will I be in, when do I officially leave? How will I know what to do? Who will I meet? Will I learn the language? And yet, even though I have all of these questions, I know without a doubt that my God goes before me, and He is preparing the way for me.  He knows everything that is to happen, and all the people I will come into contact with. Even though I have questions upon questions, God has all the answers and I’m super excited to be a part of it.

I would like to take this time to also say thank you!!! The support through prayers and encouragement has been overwhelming!! I can truly, truly feel every single prayer, and it means more than I can say. I know that when I leave this fall, I will not be going alone, but with the support of so many! Not only have your prayers meant the world to me, but also all the words of encouragement. I have been amazed at all the different ways that people have been supporting me: adding recipes, selling cookbooks, prayers, spreading the word, financial support and so many other ways.

Another way that someone has stepped up to help is by donating steaks for a steak dinner. All of the proceeds will go directly towards my trip. Isn’t God great? I love the ways that He moves. I never in a million years would have expected this, but God always surprises me by how He continually allows other people to get on board with His movement. The dinner will be Friday, July 26, 5-8 (come and go as you please) at Prosper CRC. The steak will be $10 and there will also be a kid’s meal (hot dogs) for $5. If you would like a ticket, please just let me know!

In Christ,

Alexandra Dodde

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"I'll see you when you see me."

Change and goodbyes; it can be so difficult to go through. Which is currently what I am going through right now. This was my last week of school at Northwest Middle School. I have been teaching there for 2 amazing years. I have truly loved working there. My co-workers have been the best co-workers that anyone could have asked. The amount that I have learned about schools and about special education is amazing. The knowledge that I’ve obtained from working at NMS have truly been in preparation for what God is calling me for me.

I hate goodbyes. I’d much rather say, “I’ll see you when you see me.” That doesn’t sound so permanent, so final. The relationships that I have created in Knoxville have been more then I could have hoped for. I know without a doubt that God called me to Knoxville. He has placed me here to develop and grow as a person and as a Christian. Being away from my entire family, and everyone else that I was familiar with, forced me to depend on God for everything. Not only was He was my Savior, but He became my best friend, He became my everything. This is a lesson that I needed in order to be able to spend the year in Tanzania. I know that once again, when I say “see you when you see me” to my friends here in Knoxville, God will remain my everything, He’ll remain my best friend.   

I have once again been extremely overwhelmed by the support that I have been getting. I have sold close to 200 cookbooks which is way more then I imagined. I have also had many different people support me that I would never have imagined. God is good and He has come through in so many different ways. He keeps challenging me to ask Him to be big. And every time I do, He has not failed to follow through. He has never ceased to amaze me. I love the lyrics to the song “Give Me Faith” by Elevation Worship. I need to continue to put my faith in Christ and trust what He says. He has promised to take care of me, He has promised to never leave me. That is something that I will cling to in these moments of goodbye. In these times of uncertainty. When everything else around me is drastically changing, I know that my God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And though I may be weak but Your spirit's strong in me My flesh may fail My God you never will”
Thank you so much for your support. Please keep me in your prayers as I’m getting ready to leave Knoxville. It truly has become my home, and I really do hope to return again someday, Lord willing. It will be a rough, emotional week!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Mountains

Dear Brother and Sister in Christ,

Throughout this whole journey it has been amazing to see God's timing and God's power. There have been many mountains that have had to be moved. Since I've started to prayfully consider joining God and his activity, I would continuously ask the questions "But what about this? or that?" I was trying to see things through my eyes, I was trying to solve problems with my power. Let's just say that not much was happening. It wasn't until I let go of everything that I really started to see the mountains move. "May the Mountains Be Moved" has been my theme throughout this whole time. There have been many mountains that could have prevented me from saying yes, and sometimes saying yes, is the scariest thing to do, especially when all can see are the mountains. But we serve a God, who not only can move them, but he CREATED them. And He will never leave us to climb them alone.

So throughout this post and throughout this blog and this upcoming year and a half, please don't look at me and say "WOW, look at what she is doing!" or "WOW, she is so brave" At the end of every day I want to make sure that everyone knows God's POWER and see God's movement. I don't even want to attempt to share in God's glory. I want my actions to always point to Him. I pray that He will be so big in what he does through me, that nobody can miss him. That is ultimately my prayer. So as I go through the mountains that God has graciously moved since I've said yes to Him in January. It really is an account of His faithfulness! I pray that you too may see His faithfulness through this as well.

Mountain 1: Preparing my heart:

Isaiah 6:8 says "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said 'Here I am. Send me." Let me tell you, those can be extremely scary words to say. When I started praying those words back in October, I had NO idea that God would be calling me Tanzania. It was no where on my radar or even in my plans. I was content with monthly trips in the summer, that was enough for me. But God's plans are so much greater then ours! One of the things that I love about this verse is the faith that Isaiah had. He didn't try to come up with a million reasons why he couldn't or shouldn't do it. In fact he didn't even know what it was at that moment. He just knew that God needed someone to join in and he said yes. His natural response without hesitation was "I am here, send me!" Oh to have that faith to automatically say yes. To take that step out of the boat, even when everyone thought it was crazy. Isaiah didn't even worry about the mountains that were looming over him. To him, they were not even a factor. Oh may we have that faith! Lord, I pray that you will put that faith in each of our lives! 

Mountain 2: Raising Support:

Because this is volunteer position, I have to come up with all of my own support. Like almost every human being, I HATE asking other people for money. I cringed at the fact that I had to send out support letters asking for the money for me to go to Tanzania. But it has been truly been amazing to see the many people that have offered to join me in both prayer and financial support! God is bigger then money, and He will provide the way for this to happen as well. At this point I'm not 100% funded yet, I'm close, but I have no doubt in my mind that God will provide for the last of the support to come. One of the ways that I've been raising support is by creating a cookbook. Which brings me to my third mountain.

Mountain 3: Cookbook

The Mountain Be Moved Cookbook, was originally an idea from a very dear friend of mind. I think that when she mentioned in home group, she had no idea what she really started. Before I even said yes to Village School International, I had another dear friend say that she wanted to do the cookbook project for me. Oh my goodness, let me tell you, I don't think we ever imagined it to turn out as awesome as it did. IT just goes to show that with God behind something, he will blow our expectations out of the water! I originally thought that I was just going to hand make some on my own and sell like 10 with maybe 25 recipes in them. I really think that God was laughing when I set that low of an expectation. My friend who said that they wanted to take it over, found an amazing program online and set it all up. She was the one who came up with the name of the project. We put it online, and I started to verbally tell friends and family to start putting in recipes. I was hoping for 75, once again, God was laughing. Once we reached 75, I thought 150. Once we passed 150, I finally just said "Okay God, just show off!" and show off He did. The final cookbook has 487 recipes from friends and family all over the world! How amazing. (If your interested please visit my sister's blog at Rusty Hinge-

The amount of support that I've received these past couple months has been overwhelming. From prayer and financial support. In the moments when I think that I made a mistake or that I'm crazy, God will send another person to give me the support that I need to make it through that attack. So thank you for everything!!! I truly would not be able to go through this without it.

Ps. 62:11-12a says "One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord are loving." I'm not going to say that when I think about everything that has to work in order for this to happen  I don't get nervous and overwhelmed. But I then remember this verse and that God is strong then any mountain that stands in the way or any arrow that the enemy will throw my way. Because Satan will try his hardest to thwart any movement of God's children joining in with Him in his activity. God knows that I am created from the dust and yet he still choose to use me! I do not have to fear because I know that God is going before m. All the work that gets done will only get done through Christ. I am the vessel that our All-Powerful and Amazing God will be using to do some awesome things.

In Christ,

Alexandra Dodde