As we have said before, the MCC Tanzania program is in the process of consolidating into the Nairobi Kenya MCC office and we are now at the point where we are disposing of assets. Figuring out the values and selling items is tricky. Arusha's economy is depressed as a result of low rates of tourism because of COVID. So people don't have a lot of money. As far as cars, I am realizing that people who have been answering ads for our Rav 4 seem to consider themselves duped if they do not get a price below the stated value in the ad. (I did check this out with our national staff and they confirmed that it is important to set the value over the amount we want to get because anyone paying the full price considers themselves to be cheated.) Even still, I struggle with showing the car to potential buyers who are extremely aggressive about getting a low price, wanting to pay cash, and then driving away with the car within 10 minutes of seeing it--like the car is a bolt of kitenge fabric. When I want to slow down to be sure that we go through the proper legal process with regard to title transfer, they balk. I think there is the hope that they will be able to drive around as long as possible with the current registration and insurance and only re-register when absolutely necessary. It has an air of desperation about it that makes even having a car to sell and insisting on a proper transfer seem privileged and immoral.
I don't want to sound too much that I am complaining about the routine of life these days. The truth is, it has been mercifully normal. No one has been sick for several weeks, the kids are in school all day so Rebecca and I can be in the office after a work out at our club. We were even more thrilled to see the pool has been refilled and we have re-established our Friday after-school family activities at Gymkhana including squash and swimming.
The return to a sense of normality does have a certain eeriness and sense of impermanence about it, like an eddy of calm in a fast-moving stream of chaotic change. This is particularly true as we read about the second wave of COVID hitting Europe, the slow-motion train wreck of COVID management in the US, and recent outbreaks in Kenya. By contrast, Arusha seems to have very low prevalence, and in fact, our doctor friends who track respiratory infections in area hospitals are reporting that there have been none this month. I still find it surreal to see everyone walking around without masks, and spurning social distancing. We still maintain stricter protocols in our office, but the kids have given up on mask-wearing in school at this point since they are the only ones doing so.
Low prevalence in a number of African countries is still not well-understood but does seem to be happening. I think it is possible that there may have been some high levels of cross-immunity, and an outbreak that came close to providing herd immunity in April-June, as there were many deaths in that period here. I think this will be an interesting research topic in the years ahead. For the time being, we are thankful, but weary of a sudden change and return to strict isolation protocol. (I really really don't want to home school again!)
Another life-giving routine is restarting Sunday School. While our church has not reopened yet, (It will in October), Rebecca and I have gone for the past 3 weeks to the kids' school St.Constantines, to do Sunday school in an outdoor space. The kids who attend are boarders and had been coming by bus to our church in the past. It has been fun to see their faces again and continue doing lessons with them the past few weeks. There is no plan to restart Sunday school at our church since the Sunday school was always very crowded in cramped rooms and we would not be able to control social distancing in our church setting.
We have also been able to resume our Thursday dinners every fortnight with the team here on our compound where we live. It is good to catch up with others who live with us here. In fact, life on the compound has been quite satisfying after school, particularly for David who considers the 3 guard dogs his pets, and often helps them escape from their pen in the late afternoon to play with him. He has also been avidly riding his bike around the compound, a return to this activity after nearly a year and a half hiatus because of an accident he had which really put him off bike riding. Now he and I take a ride around the compound and into the neighboring village on a regular basis. (It is kind of like off-road biking since all the roads here are not paved and very rough.)
We have much to be thankful for, in our remaining months here, one of the greatest blessings is seeing the kids really enjoy their school here and succeed academically. Oren is particularly good with the Cambridge system aced his prep. tests for O levels at the end of the year. According to him, he is glad he is smart because he hates to study:-)
Bonus postscript: I preached for our church several weeks ago (online) and recorded the sermon. If you are interested in listening, here is the link: sermon link