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