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