Top 10: Our Year in Tanzania


We have arrived safely back home from Tanzania. It’s been wonderful to see our families and friends and to celebrate our arrival in America. But Dodoma has become our second home, and there are many people and things we already miss. So we thought we would share with you the top 10 list of things we left behind in Dodoma, complete with photos!

10) Swahili
It was difficult to live in a country where most of the conversations we overheard were in a different language, but our love of Swahili definitely grew over the course of the year. Elizabeth even preached twice in Swahili (to thunderous applause)!

9) The Dodoma market
Many city blocks long, crowded, and busy, the Dodoma market was very intimidating at first. But by the time we left, we were able to navigate the market better than any Walmart, and we could even bargain in Swahili. It was a great place for all sorts of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and spices.

8 ) Mungano Parish Church (St. Peter’s)
Ben’s Sunday church assignment was a great place to experience true Tanzanian church. It featured an excellent Mama’s choir with singing in Chigogo and drums, whistles, and homemade percussion instruments. It took some time, though, to get used to 3 or 4 hour services with hour long announcements in Swahili or Chigogo.

7) Msalato Girl’s School
Singing, dancing, and drumming by the Msalato Girl’s School church choir was enthusiastic enough to make the building shake. And it was exceptionally high quality, too. This is where Elizabeth’s group was assigned to lead a pastoral care group each Sunday.

6) Zanzibar
Zanzibar is home to Stonetown, a maze of narrow, winding streets, tall buildings, great views of the Indian ocean, and a distinctly Arab feel much different than the mainland. We spent two weeks there at Swahili language school, but we made sure also to take time and explore the island.

5) Wildlife
Animals around Dodoma are just more colorful than here. We had read-headed, blue-bodied lizards, glowing red insects, and techni-colored birds on campus. Elizabeth’s parents also visited and traveled north with us to see lions, zebras, wildebeests, cheetahs, rhinos, leopards, and rhinoceroses.

4) Visits to villages
There is no electricity in the village, so there are few distractions preventing good, long conversations and lots of laughter. Long meals of ugali (cornmeal paste) or rice with beans or meat was the highlight of the day. We had many occasions to visit villages, including a weekend-long trip with one of our theology students, Robert.

3) The seminary campus
Our home for a year was always busy with students studying or playing football, teachers preparing lessons, and someone always singing. Ben’s domain was the computer rooms and Elizabeth’s was the library and classrooms.

2) The other missionaries
Some of our best friends in Dodoma were missionaries from around the world. England, New Zealand, Kenya, Canada, Australia and America were all represented by missionaries at Msalato (some of whom had passionate but good-neighbored rivalries re-fighting the War of 1812). We also had friends who were working for other organizations in the area, including Brian and Chris, both from New York state, who are pictured here.

1) The students
We will miss our students perhaps most. Elizabeth enjoyed regaling them with stories of the saints and sinners of Christian history, exploring scripture, and debating theology. Ben loved introducing them to computers — new territory for many of the students. They were welcome in our house, and many became close friends.

Author: Benjamin Locher

Benjamin Locher grew up with his parents and two younger brothers in Johnstown, Pa, about an hour and a half east of Pittsburgh. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., with a degree in government and a minor in Information Systems. It was there that he met and fell in love with his joyful, sweet, beautiful and a only a slight-bit crazy red-headed wife, Elizabeth. They met at the Canterbury Episcopal Ministry and first really got to know each other during a mission trip to Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. After graduating, Ben worked as an Information Technology consultant for CGI Federal in Fairfax, VA and then as a web developer for the action-tank American Solutions, in Washington D.C. Today, he works for SRA International as a web developer at the General Accountability Office, a wing of the U.S. Congress. Ben is a member of St. Paul’s Parish on K Street in Washington, DC, where he is an altar server and ward secretary of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. He is looking forward to the chance to get out of his comfort zone and share the love of Christ in a more particular way, though he is wondering if his deadpan sarcasm will translate into Swahili!

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