It’s Official. We are Home.

Well, almost without warning, the end of our tour in Dar es Salaam has come.  We arrived in DC Wednesday evening after almost 30 hours of traveling with a baby and a dog.  There was just enough down time for us to reflect on the finality of our move.  The logistics of coordinating an overseas relocation were taxing enough that we made it through the last few weeks barely understanding that we were leaving for good.  But now, that is all very clear.

It was a very sad goodbye for us.  Our time in Dar was marked by many “trials,” but also many rewards.  We made very deep (and hopefully lasting) friendships.  In the final days, we struggled to express how thankful we had been to those around us.  Even those faces we knew in first- or nick-name-only are treasured to us:  Peter and Modest, the men who worked behind the deli counter; Pascal, who bagged my groceries; Andrew, the guard at the French School who watched after me when I went walking in the neighborhood; the young boys who picked out my produce and who knew my name but I didn’t know theirs; the man who sold me berries and helped me carry the stroller over the curb everyday.  Of those mentioned above, we never said goodbye.  We will probably regret that for a long time.

We must admit, we have not always had such an affectionate view of our life in Tanzania.  African culture and Western culture are often at odds with one another.  Many times, the differences seemed too great to overcome.  But I knew we had come along way when Matt invited one of our most challenging Tanzanian friends to our goodbye party.  In the end, we couldn’t imagine our final days without him.

Two years was a long time ago.  Just look at us.  So eager.  So naive.  Hair perfectly in place:

Will my hair ever look like this again?  Sources say No

Our view of the world has changed dramatically, in ways both good and bad.  In some ways, we love the world more.  In other ways, we have become more cynical.  It would probably be very difficult for anyone to take advantage of us in the future.  We are skeptical now…of everything…and I don’t know if we will ever regain a sense that the world is full of basically good people.  But we are wiser now and better equipped to defend, promote and proclaim what is good.  In fact, this is task that seems critically important.  I shudder at the insulated mindset I used to have, not because I now feel superior, but because it’s a mindset that that breeds complacency, something the world can’t afford.

Our chief regret is that we didn’t love the people around us as much as we could or should have.  Our time with them seemed too short and our work unfinished.  Perhaps at our new post, we will be more deliberate and wise with our time – a lesson hopefully learned.

So I can’t believe we are saying this, but thank you Dar for an incredibly rich two years.  We will never forget you and all the people we met through you.  Mungu ibariki Tanzania.  God bless Tanzania.