Ending 2017, Starting 2018

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Food, Christmas play, Lip syncing, goat heads...and forgetting to send an update

An actual family photo (October 2017, Caleb is visibly taller now 🙄)

So quite honestly, I started on this newsletter back in January to give on update of the last few months of 2017 but then life kept getting in the way .  The last few months of 2017 were fun, but very busy with guests. Our guests included a friend from college, friends from Arusha, Tanzania; another missionary family from Dar es Salaam adopting a child from Neema House, and Cheryl's parents, sister, & nephew! Then to start January we had a couple come in to work with all of the Geita Team then we had two students from Harding University arrive to start a 3 month field placement (and a guy biking around the world who ate about the same amount of food as our whole family ).  I'm kinda tired just writing that last paragraph... 
The boys participated in a homeschool co-op based in Mwanza which required bi-weekly trips across Lake Victoria via a ferry. We are glad they enjoyed co-op but we decided to take a break to start 2018 as the trip to Mwanza is a solid 3 hour trip (one-way), it just makes for a long day. Their co-op put on a Christmas play which was very cool for the boys to be a part of! Here's Ashser as a wiseman, Caleb was King Herod, Isaac was a shepherd, Levi was a shepherd, solider, and sheep (he's multi-talented).
The boys' old school at the gold mine put on another lip syncing contest which Caleb did with Rayna (from the Bailey family, our teammates here). They did a great job and won for Best Duo! There was a fundraiser for Neema House at the gold mine also which was fun and they raised $1,600. 
We finally completed construction on the new baby home at Neema House in December and it has truly been a blessing. We also had our annual Christmas party at Neema House for our staff and the kids. We make some American foods each year for our staff to try. This year we made salsa and guacamole plus we served ice cream floats. The guacamole and floats were a big hit!
Oh yeah, the Christmas party also featured fresh goat...
We had Christmas with Cheryl's parents and delivered the boxes for each of the Neema House children on Christmas morning, which is always fun. Thank you to all of you that prepare a Christmas box for these kids, they love them! We also had a New Year's celebration with our team and some other friends from Mwanza. 

)This is just Levi keeping his face from getting too hot while roasting marshmallows )
We started 2018 with a few guests, including two Social Work students from Harding University completing their field placement with Neema House. They experienced a lot of different things while visiting hospitals, villages, helping complete some long-desired projects on top of the cross-cultural experiences.  It is the first international field placement and we are excited about the opportunity to welcome more students in the future.
We celebrated 3 birthdays (Scott, Asher, & Isaac) over the past few months and we celebrated with Michela, one of our Harding students. 
With our Harding guests, we didn't take any trips over the past few months and focused on work and homeschool. Scott did go to the annual men's retreat in February and Cheryl is in Kenya now for the women's retreat. These are great breaks away with other missionaries in East Africa. 

Below are just a few more highlights..
 
We worship with our team every week and sometimes we can visit this waterfall on the gold mine property. 
In TZ, you just weld stuff back together when it breaks...
The boys made matzah with the rest of the team kids in preparation of our Seder meal to celebrate Passover/Easter with our team. It was a great night together!
Here is the most recent quarterly report. Neema House had a busy quarter including adoptions, reunifications, new children, school room improvements and more. (click image to view) 
Thank you so much for your ongoing support of our family! Your support and prayers make it possible for us to continue our work in Geita. We love people checking in via text, email, and Facebook. 

Blessings,
Scott, Cheryl, Caleb, Levi, Isaac, & Asher
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2017 is half over! Umm..what?

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McFaddins in Tanzania Update


Has it already been 3 months since our last update? No wildlife encounters this time, but one of the highlights over the past few months was a great day trip to Mwanza. We ate legitimate American-style burgers at a new restaurant, got to see Cars 3 at the movie theater, ran some errands, and then went to a party with some friends! It was a GREAT day and reminded us a little of our weekends back in the States!

We also celebrated Levi's 8th birthday, hosted 3 interns from the States for the past two months, and working on the new infant home construction.  Full disclosure: I have not done any of the actual construction, but have made lots of decisions about materials, etc. (Trust me, you don't want me building anything someone has to live in).

Yes, 2017 is only half over, but this is an "Annual" report as the Tanzanian government is on a June - July fiscal year so they want Neema House annual report to match their timeline. Sometimes we forget how many things can happen in a year until we look back and see how God has blessed the work of Neema House and it in turn has blessed so many children and families. 

There have been so many changes since July last year, but even we did not realize how much was achieved in the past 12 months including; 
  • Children going home
  • More adoptions
  • Officially rolling our Maisha Matters malnutrition outreach program
  • Breaking ground on new infant home


We are so thankful for our family supporters and we ask that you continue to pray for us as we lead Neema House and for our family as well. Please know we think about you a lot here. We wouldn't be here if not for you!

If you ever have any questions about our daily lives, our work, or any crazy thing you heard about Africa or Tanzania, shoot us an email! We're also on Facebook Messenger and What's App.

Thanks!
Scott & Cheryl
(Caleb, Levi, Isaac, & Asher too)

P.S. - While it doesn't help us directly, soon you will be able to buy Neema House items, like shirts, stickers, and coffee mugs! Also be on the look out for updates to the Neema House website
 
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Work Update...Plus Camels, Snakes, & Pigs...oh my!

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McFaddins in Tanzania Update


We've started 2017 without a beat! We started homeschool in full force in January and while it has been an adjustment juggling with Neema House, we all feel like this is working well for all of us! 

We celebrated Scott's, Asher's, and Isaac's birthday already this year! You can read more about all the things we've been up to with Neema House this year, but we actually did get away for a long weekend trip to Arusha, Tanzania in March. This was a much needed break for us that included eating at some delicious restaurants, (something not very prevalent here in Geita ) plus holding snakes and riding camels!

We also now have 3 dogs, 3 goats, and 3 pigs at our house (there's sentence I never thought I'd write). The pigs were given to Neema House and staying at our house until a 'banda' or  stable is built at Neema House.  

 

We are so thankful for our family supporters and we ask that you continue to pray for us as we lead Neema House and for our family as well. Please know we think about you a lot here. We wouldn't be here if not for you!

If you ever have any questions about our daily lives, our work, or any crazy thing you heard about Africa or Tanzania, shoot us an email! We're also on Facebook Messenger and What's App.

Thanks!
Scott & Cheryl
(Caleb, Levi, Isaac, & Asher too)
The boys were very excited to ride camels, something they know we did in Egypt before Caleb was born! Bottom right, Scott and Caleb are processing pork to make sausage (not one of the pigs on the left)!
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Quarterly Work Report

It is hard to believe that 3 whole months have already passed since we arrived in Tanzania.  In some ways it feels as though we have learned so much since we arrived.  In other ways I am overwhelmed by the amount that we still do not know (largely because we have high standard for ourselves and do not like not knowing things).  

The following are items that have consumed the majority of our time during our first 3 months in Geita:

Language Learning

As planned, the majority of our time thus far has been devoted to language and culture learning, as we are unable to move forward with other work plans until we are able to communicate with others.  Though initially we planned on going to language school for about 10 straight weeks, shortly before our arrival our teammates learned that it is now possible to pay a teacher to come to you.  There were quite a few pros and cons to this option, but in the end we decided that was the best option for our family because it would: drastically cut the cost of language school (which allows us to use some of our initial costs to cover our ongoing monthly gap in our budget for a while as we continue to seek other financial partners), allow our oldest two children to go ahead and start school, allow time for us to begin settling into life due to the fact that our overlap with the Groens would be shorter than originally planned, we would have more opportunities to practice what we were learning outside of a classroom setting, and we would know the people who would be watching our youngest two children rather than leaving them with childcare strangers at the language school immediately after uprooting them from everything that they knew.

At this time, we have completed 7 weeks of language school (we took a 2 week break to attempt to absorb the information that we had been taught and put it into practice).  Both Scott and I are now able to have conversations with others, and though we in no way are able to understand everything that is said to us, we are often able to understand the general gist.  I am able to shop independently at the market and dukas and we can carry simple conversations with the Neema House staff.  We are planning on more school later in January or early in February.  

 

Neema House

Immediately upon arrival, we were informed that there were plans to roll out a child sponsorship program for the kids at Neema House by Thanksgiving to help cover operating expenses.  Scott worked tirelessly to make this possible by designing the website, implementing online payments, and corresponding with the Stateside Coordinator for the child sponsorship and Board of Directors of Neema House to gather information and answer questions.  This was rolled out just before Thanksgiving and as of January 1 ALL 13 kids are fully sponsored!! You can check out his work at neemahouse.org.

I have been been able to assist with the placement of 4 more children at Neema House, including one that had extreme medical needs due to malnutrition and dehydration.  Despite my initial promises to Scott that these children would not be coming into our home, we immediately agreed that was necessary to ensure her constant care as we attempted to nurse her back to health after the doctors had told her that nothing could be done to save her.  I am happy to say that after a rough two weeks dealing with her illness and seizures, this child is doing well and growing and developing with any further complications.  

We have also been attempting to learn how payroll is handled for the staff, meet some of the local and regional social welfare officers, and make observations about basic functioning so that we have ideas on things we want to first start on when we officially take over as Directors in February.  

In December we both spent time with the Neema House Attorney / Manager to better understand procedures when kids are brought to NH, payroll, monthly finances, etc.  We already have learned a lot and are excited about how we can improve some areas.  Scott is already working on compiling financial information for the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) report that is required to be filed with the Tanzania authority.  

School

Caleb and Levi have completed the first term of their International School.  The school has approximately 20-25 students from 8 different countries and they are age 3 to age 11 so class sizes are small.  We have been impressed with curriculum and the teachers' willingness to adapt to each child's needs.  The boys have settled in well and are enjoying their days there.  They have been able to participate in after school activities such as soccer, rugby, cooking, and swimming, and they were part of the school Christmas program just before the holiday break.

Life

At this time, we are living in the guest house on the Neema House property and we will move into the Director's home at the beginning of January to allow 3-4 weeks to learn the quirks of the house before the Groens move back in February.  The boys love playing outside, especially with the other children on our team, and have even all developed farmer tans (which I did not think was possible).

Due to limited space at this time, we are unable to stock up on much, so I have to go to the market at least 4 times a week to get food for our meals.  Because we must make everything from scratch and do not yet have a house worker, it typically takes 2-3 hours to prepare dinner.  We also wash dishes at least 4 times a day, which typically takes about half an hour each time.  We look forward to having a house worker when we move into the bigger home to help shave some of this time off so it can be devoted to more pressing matters.  In this culture, it is expected to have house / yard workers to help contribute to the economy so that we are providing more jobs for people.  We plan to keep all of the employees (house worker, night guards, and yard worker) that the Groens have had.

We have also been working to learn about cultural rules / expectations, where things are, and how to drive on horrible roads with seemingly no road rules.  I have had the opportunity to go to a village to visit a church that one of our teammates has been working with and Scott has had the opportunity to accompany a teammate to Rwanda to learn about the customs process, meet some missionaries there, and learn where things are since Kigali is one of the closest big cities should we need to buy appliances, receive medical / dental care, or look for other things that are not available in our town.

We have weekly worship / devotional time with our teammates.  This allows us the chance to worship together and develop deeper relationships with each other and recharge our batteries in a culture that constantly drains our energy and time due to outside expectations.  I am also participating in a weekly Bible study with the other ladies on our team.  Additionally, we have also participated in Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations with our team as a fun way to carry on our American traditions.  We included the Neema House kids in our Halloween festivities and took them on a makeshift "hayride" and had them go trick or treating to the different doors in the home.

We recently had visitors from North Boulevard Church of Christ (the sponsoring congregation for the Groens), including one Neema House Board Member and the founder of BoroDash (one of the main funders for Neema House).  

The Groens were out of town for two weeks and we are caring for their three girls, while also juggling language classes, our own children, meals, learning about Neema House, and life in general.  We also had a Team Christmas part for all of our kids in addition to Christmas day activities.  We had several families from the Mwanza and Tabora teams in Geita for New Year’s Eve Extravaganza which was a lot of fun to meet them again, and some for the first time.  It is also great to see how quickly kids become friends and just start playing together.  Life is busy.

As we move forward toward the next 3 months, we have much in store already on top of continuing to learn as much we can about life and the operations of Neema House:

January

  • Transitioning to the Director's home
  • Developing new contracts for the employees
  • Another 2 weeks of language school
  • Celebrating both Scott and Asher's birthdays
  • Discussions / Meetings regarding the future work / collaboration between the Geita mission team and the Mwanza mission team
  • Get new tires for our vehicle and learn more about where things are in Mwanza (the other closest big city to us)

February

  • Taking over officially as Directors of Neema House
  • Groens move back to the States
  • Celebrating Isaac's birthday
  • Men's Missionary Retreat in Kenya
  • Possibly more language classes
  • Visit Forever Angels, a more long-standing baby home in Mwanza (3-5 hours away) to glean information and ideas from them about things that work well in this culture
  • Welcome friends of both the Harrisons and ours who are from the States and help support our work here

March

  • Women’s Missionary Retreat in Kenya
  • Possibly more language classes
  • I’m sure more things will come up in March, but we have a full 2 months before then 

As we move forward and look at our upcoming roles and responsibilities with Neema House, some of the initial objectives / goals that we have identified are (**Note: We will not be able to complete most of these in the next quarter due to the fact that we will not be stepping into the director roles until February and it takes time to make some of these things happen, but I wanted to share our current list of future goals):

  • Follow up on any projects that Calvin is unable to complete before moving back (ie: obtaining the official operational license for Neema House, construction of equipment for the home, etc...)
  • Develop a general form to gather necessary information that is required by Tanzania to support the current NGO status.  These need to be submitted to the other workers under the Neema House visas in Arusha and Dar Es Salaam
  • Foster relationships with the other workers under Neema House throughout the country
  • Make a trip to Arusha to see the work being done in that Neema House baby home
  • Standardize the bookkeeping process for all Neema House money
  • Review the scheduling process of Neema House staff and examine at what point additional staff should be hired.  A structured hiring process should also be established
  • Learn about the placement process, forms that must be completed, documents that must be kept / filed
  • Create documentation processes for the care given to the children and create more structure in the current daily schedule
  • Explore places for our albino child to have his eyes checked and hopefully get glasses due to having obviously poor vision
  • Continue to foster relationships with local social welfare offices and begin exploring the possibility of developing a foster care program
  • Learn more about other social welfare programs in the region to develop relationships and determine whether we are able to support each other
  • Explore opportunities for children who have families that are currently unable to care for them to be able to visit their families.  As the ultimate goal for these children is to return home, I am interested in taking these children to visit their families with some sort of regularity so that they: know their families, are more familiar with the environment to which they will hopefully return to reduce the trauma of that future transition as much as possible, and allow us to assess the needs of the family in their environment to determine if there are ways we could continue to support these children and families after they return home.  We also think this could be a great avenue into starting Bible studies with new families in the future.

Thank you so much for all of your support.  We are so thankful for all of the support we have been given, whether monetarily, spiritually, or emotionally!  The encouragement we receive from others on a regular basis help us get through some of the more trying times.  Please continue to keep as in your prayers as we continue to get settled and move into our long term work with Neema House.

Hello from Tanzania!

Harbari zenu? (How are you all?)

We have been living in Geita for almost a month and a half and life is good! We have been adjusting to our new way of life here and still learning new things (I know the learning process will continue for the duration of our time here). We have learned to drive on the right side of the car and the left side of the road with relative ease. We are still getting used to the different or lack of road rules here which is a challenge with so many pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, and other cars on the roadway.

Cheryl has been learning how to cook all of our meals from scratch and has been doing an awesome job! She mentioned the other day one dinner we made in the States was time-consuming but its one of the easiest meals to make here in Tanzania. I hope to start learning how to make some meals once we move into our permanent home. We are currently living in the guest house on the Neema House director’s home property and will move into the main home in January. In addition to having more living space we will have solar power backup when the power goes out (which is really fun at night getting kids ready for bed). I have started to shadow our teammate Calvin on solar system maintenance and how to pump water from the well we have here on the property. The well was donated by the Geita Gold Mine and is a HUGE blessing from God! Water supply can be hit-or-miss sometimes and the well allows us to make sure Neema House is never without water.

We are also currently in school. Caleb and Levi attend the international school at the gold mine with students from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and of course Tanzania. They love school and the extracurricular activities they do are lots of fun! They have swimming (which is also a PE session each week), flag rugby, and even cooking for a couple of weeks. Cheryl and I are also currently in school, Swahili language school. We are about to start our 3rd straight week of Swahili class here in Geita. We have class 3 hours each morning and have learned a lot! Our teammate Brett offered to teach us some Swahili the first couple of weeks we were here and really gave us a running start for our official class. We really like our teacher but we are also ready for a little break as our brains are on overload sometimes. Learning a new language may be tougher than passing certification exams.

Three new kids have been placed at Neema House since we arrived; Charity, Thomas, and Loveness. Charity is a 4 month old girl who was found abandoned in the forest. She was brought to Neema House and is doing very well. Thomas arrived at 2 weeks old as his mother was a prostitute and died due to complications with AIDS after childbirth. This also means his father is unknown. His grandparents are around however they are very elderly and currently unable to care for him. They are trying to determine how they can bring Thomas to their village and raise him. There is a good possibility Thomas may have HIV/AIDS and he is currently taking medication to boost his immune system, but we do not have the result from his test.

Loveness was also brought to Neema House at 2 weeks old as she was abandoned behind a government office here in Geita. If you have been following Cheryl’s page or Neema House on Facebook who know about the struggles this little girl has experienced. Within 10 days after arriving at Neema House, Loveness went to the hospital for an IV and then other clinics in Geita as she was severely dehydrated and not thriving. After one doctor said he didn’t know how to save her, Cheryl and Alicia alternated caring for her 24/7 making sure she drank formula and kept it down. We were all very worried this little girl would die that weekend. God truly showed His healing power with Loveness! Once she was eating more regularly however she started experiencing seizures that became more severe and more frequent. After another week long stay in the hospital, her seizures were gone and she was continuing to eat regularly. Loveness now has some chubby little cheeks and is filling out! Glory to God for her healing and continued improvement. Being a witness to God’s love and care of Loveness was evidence to us that we are where He wants us.

Friend us on Facebook and “like’ Neema House (facebook.com/neemahouse) to stay updated on our life and the kids at Neema House. We will also have a brand new website later this week (neemahouse.org)!

We Have a Date!

So its been almost a month since my last update and SO much has been happening.  As I mentioned last time, Cheryl and the boys have been living with her parents and adjusting to a new "home" in Florida.  I'm staying with some friends in Texas until I quit work, which will be in **2 WEEKS!!**  More on that a little later.

I've traveled to FL on back-to-back weekends and its challenging living a part from your wife and kids.  I do not recommend this.  While I was there last weekend, Cheryl and I talked and surgically reviewed our budget to figure out how I could quit my job sooner rather than later and get a date for airfare.  Sometimes there is a very fine line between making wise decisions and fully stepping out in faith and trusting God with the consequences.  

After praying about it we felt this week was going to define some things.  It didn't take God long to let us know.  On Monday night one of our sponsoring churches told us they were going to significantly increase their monthly support!  This was so HUGE!  With that news we knew **immediately** that I would turn in my notice this week.  

So I officially gave my notice this week (my last day is August 29) and everyone I work with has been very cool about my leaving, once they shock of the news wears off.  They've said they are bummed I'm leaving, but they are very excited about the opportunity in front of Cheryl & I. 

Since my last post we have almost completely closed our one-time budget gap (with the promise of some matching funds) and our monthly gap is now just over $1,000 a month.  We feel comfortable we can move forward and are trusting God will continue to close that gap within the coming days/weeks/months.  We still have some big loose ends to tie up before moving, but we are scheduled to depart DFW airport on September 26!

**Praise God for His faithfulness and hand of blessing on these mission plans!**  Please continue to pray for us and our families as we prepare to start this new adventure.

Signed, Sealed, and...Homeless?

Where did June and July go? The first big update I posted on the blog stated our house was on the market. Well, we got a contract 2 days later! 

We've had a very busy summer with Caleb and Levi both playing soccer, traveling, getting kids caught up with immunizations,  prepping for a garage sale, packing up and moving out of our house, and just being a family of 6 in general. 

An update on our fundraising. We have approximately another $23,000 to raise to cover our one-time/moving expenses. Our moving expenses budget includes items such as, airfare & luggage (instead of shipping a big container), language school, and a used SUV.  

Cheryl & I traveled to Nashville early in June as a well-connected friend offered to host a fundraising dinner for us, however the day before the dinner we found out it was not going to happen after all.  We were very discouraged because we were expecting this dinner to raise the significant portion of our one-time costs. Our friend helped connect us with some other potential donors and we have been reaching out to them. 

On June 21 we had a big garage sale and and raised $2,000! It was a long week of prep but it paid off well.

As I mentioned earlier we sold our house and closed everything yesterday July 18.  So if we still haven't raised enough money to leave for Tanzania and sold our house you may be asking yourself the question "Where are you going to live?" 

Cheryl and the boys moved to Florida on Thursday and I will stay with some super-awesome friends and keep working until we raise more support and we finish all remaining doctor appointments (which may be extended  now that Isaac fractured his left arm). 

Please keep us in your prayers over the next several weeks as we truly begin living in a transitional stage leaving our house and being living separated for a while. I also ask for your help. If you can think of anyone that may be interested in supporting us with one-time or regular support, please let me know. We are anxious to move and start our new journey in Geita.  

Great Story

Its has been a few weeks since my last update and I will be posting a big update for you later this week  (Here's a preview...we sold our house!)

In the meantime I wanted to share a really great story with you.  A couple of weeks ago after a challenging few days, I got an email regarding support for Neema House from someone I've never met or talked to before.  It was from a father in Iowa.  Apparently his 3 girls heard about Neema House at VBS and immediately started in a venture to raise money to support the kids there!  They love making jewelry and bracelets using a "Rainbow Loom" (as a father of 4 boys, I trust this is a real thing) and starting selling some online.  

Today I got an email from the father again and he said they have raised $200!! They are really enjoying their project and are looking forward to more orders.  You can check them out at Bands for Neema House

First Update

We have had some visitors to the website and I thought it would be a good idea to give people an update on our status.  Currently we are planning on moving to Geita in August.  We do not have a firm date yet as there still are several things that need to happen first.  

Our house has been on the market for 4 weeks now and we are scheduled to have an open house on Sunday (unless someone makes a legit offer before then).  We have had some great feedback on showings, but then they disappear.  it is challenging and stressful to keep a house with 4 boys spotless ALL THE TIME (this is more on Cheryl given that I am at work most of the day).

We are also making progress on other items toward our move such as multiple doctor appointments for all of us (lot of shots are needed for us - yay!!), dental appointments, eye exams, finalizing homeschool curriculum, etc. There are probably so, so many things included in that "etc." it makes my head explode a little.  

We also need to raise more funds for our one-time expenses for several things such as our vehicle (used SUV from teammates), language school for Cheryl, Caleb, Levi, and I, airfare, visa, more etc.  As of now, we have received commitments for monthly support from a few churches and individuals.  We are scheduled to have a fundraiser in Nashville in a couple of weeks and we hope this will help us get closer to our goal.

We ask that you pray for all the logistics to go smoothly and for us to get the last wave of commitments for monthly support.  We have been living in a transition period for the last several weeks, what I like to call the "messy middle".  We are in between our lives here in Texas and our new lives in Tanzania.  We are anxious to start our time in Geita and hope that God will bless the timeline we have established.  If you have any questions about our proposed work or specifics about our budget, please contact me at mcfaddinsintanzania@gmail.com