As I mentioned in my previous post, my parents came to visit back in August. Now, for most people, having their parents come visit is not that big of deal. Maybe if they are visiting you in a new city, or coming to see you and your new home for the first time after being married, even just hosting them overnight instead of them hosting you for the first time, or coming to visit you while studying abroad for a semester and seeing your new but only temporary life over seas.
Imagine all those scenarios combined into one.
This was a very big deal.
Although we have traveled back to visit my parents multiple times since living here, they had yet to journey across the large expanse of ocean and land to see our new lives and where we live.
So, I hosted my parents for the first time ever in my life (having them visit my apartment for the day while in college doesn’t really count). We (Colton and I) welcomed them for the first time as a married couple into our home we ‘built’ together. They came to see our new and not so temporary lives over seas for the first time…after 3 years of living abroad. We were able to share with them a large part of our lives that not only helped build our relationship when we were first dating, but has also built our marriage for the past 3 years. For the first time in 3 years we were really able to share experiences and stories with my parents that had no grounding to them before. They have always been supportive of us, but for the first time they finally understand our relationship. For the first time since being married (and living overseas) they can hear and see our stories without them being just words, pictures, and random places in the middle of Africa.
This was a big deal.
Of course, being the organized and planned person I enjoy being, I put together several itinerary options for them to chose from taking in consideration time, budget, intensity, and sanity. They chose the option I hoped they would choose. This involved literally doing everything we could possibly do from day 1 of arrival to the day they got back on the plane. It involved multiple forms of transportation from 10 hour car drives (in a little car with very loud tires), to domestic plane flights across the country, and ferry rides through the Indian Ocean.
I have no idea how I am possibly going to write about everything that we did while they were here. But there is one thing I can for sure mention about the trip…it was amazing. Completely wonderful. Not one thing went wrong (aside from finding out upon arrival after 10hrs of driving that our one hotel had no record of our reservation for some reason…not really an issue as we stayed at the place next door, which ended up being nicer and a better price)…so no issues…which for Tanzania is very impressive, especially considering the amount of traveling and cross country traversing we did.
I can also say with out a doubt that my parents are amazing.
Let me try to ‘briefly’ write everything we did…first of all, my parents arrived on the Turkish Air flight. This flight arrives once a day at 1:30am…thats 1:30 in the morning! Very early, or late. So with my heart pounding out of my chest with a mix of excitement and disbelief we picked up my parents from the airport. We arrived back at the house and went to bed around 3am. After a good nights sleep and once we all woke up, had breakfast and plenty coffee we started the journey. Keep in mind this technically is still the same day they arrived. It happened to be a Tanzanian holiday as well. Colton thought it would be a good cultural experience and ‘break-the-ice’ event to attend the local festival. This had every potential to be too much for someone who has literally just got off the plane and in a foreign, and very African country (we were the only ‘Wazungus’ (white people) at the festival), but my parents loved it and we all had a great time!
The first day here was a full day but definitely a good one! The following days we drove around Arusha, visited the sites and did some shopping. We spent a day at Maji Moto, a beautiful natural spring in the middle of a dessert.
Colton had work obligations so couldn’t join us when we went on safari. We went to Tarangire National Park (about a 2hr drive from Arusha) and stayed at a beautiful tented camp that one of our good friends in Arusha organized for us.
We also saw lots of animals on the game drive including this amazing lion…
The following day we drove 10hrs to Dar Es Salaam, ate amazing Chinese food, stayed over night and flew to Mbeya the following morning. We arrived by 8:30 am and were welcomed by Coltons parents. We piled in the car and began the long drive to their house…about 6hrs total!
We made it down to their house without any issues and spent just a couple of days there. Everyone had such a great time together. I cant even explain how amazing this occasion was; my parents being hosted in Colton’s family’s home, in the middle of the bush of Africa, and having an incredible time. I had to take a step back and just take it all in. It was a strange overwhelming mix of emotions for me and a very humbling occasion of God’s blessings.
We hiked the river behind the Rabenold’s house and had a picnic, Dad road with Ted on his motorcycle to visit some local farmers, Colton took my parents and I to the piece of land we own and ate fresh papayas, we visited with friends, and my parents for the first time got a glimpse of Colton’s childhood.
Time with Colton’s family went by so fast. They drove us back to Mbeya where we all stayed the night with some missionary friends after all going out for Indian food. The following morning we were on a plane flying back to Dar. We went straight from the airport to the ferry and went on our way to Zanzibar.
Zanzibar of course was amazing. We spent 2 nights there and 1 full day walking around Stonetown.
We left on the early morning ferry and arrived back to our hotel in dar. After dropping off our stuff we went for the day to Mbudya Island (about a 20 min boat ride off the coast of Dar).
That night we went to dinner at an authentic Ethiopian restaurant in Dar. This was my first time there. It was so good and had such a cool atmosphere. The following day we were up early to start our drive back to Arusha.
We had about 2 full days in Arusha to finish shopping, visiting, and meeting friends before my parents left.
Coming to Africa for the first time can be very intimidating and even scary to most Americans. It can be very difficult and challenging culturally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Driving through villages of Masai living in mud huts and herding cows, having to use squatty toilets with no toilet paper and only a bucket of water to clean yourself, seeing children playing along the side of the highway in the middle of no where, (at times) having no power or water, being selflessly invited into a families house and offered chai while sitting on their more than worn-down couch and watching the children play on their dirt floor, swatting flies off the large pot of Ugali cooking over the fire. Seeing all these things for the first time after arriving from a place where everything is in the grasp of your hand, really messes with some people. They have mental breakdowns from not knowing how to process such a different world they never knew existed. This is what they call ‘culture shock’.
I never doubted my parents ability to handle this new world, although I was curious to see exactly how they would handle it. My dad has been to third-world countries multiple times so I knew he would have some familiarity with it. My mom, however, had never been to a developing, and in some areas under-developed, country. They both were champs at it. No culture shock. Full of questions and open minds to learn about the culture and life instead of trying to block it out and deny it, as so often is the case.
My parents truly are amazing and I am overwhelmed by the blessings in life that we are so undeserving of every day. The fact that my parents were able to come visit and share part of our lives with us really is a miracle and I couldn’t be more thankful. This trip is something I will cherish forever.
There are so many great pictures from my parents trip out here and I wish I could share them all! Here are a few more from the trip.