Through our eyes

Eighth Grade Curiosities

Questions from Avenue City School’s 8th Grade Students

Jambo (hello in Kiswahili)! This is a new, potentially ongoing, section of “Through Our Eyes” that is inspired by 8th grade students from Avenue City School. Avenue City School is a K-8th grade school near St. Joseph, Missouri (Melissa’s home town). Melissa attended this school and now her mother teaches at Avenue City. Melissa and John shared their upcoming journey to Moshi, Tanzania with the 6th to 8th graders and two of the classes responded with beautifully written letters of appreciation and curiosity. This section will pull questions out of their letters and address their inquiries. Enjoy the questions and please join these brilliant and thoughtful 8th graders by posting questions on the blog or emailing us at We will not include your name in our response.

These are the first three questions from the 8th graders!

Why did you choose to go to Tanzania out of all places?

We chose Tanzania for several reasons. John spent six months volunteering through Mosaic in Romania between 2008 and 2009. See Meet John and Melissa.  Following this adventure and our wedding, we knew that we wanted to continue international work. In 2010, we began conversations with Mosaic’s Vice President of International Development, Rich Carman. Rich told us about the seven international locations where Mosaic works. We were instantly drawn to the work being done in Tanzania due to the program’s focus on children with disabilities and economic empowerment.

Have you ever been there before?

No, we have not ever been to Tanzania. In fact, we had not been to Africa before landing here three weeks ago. Melissa worked with many refugees from Africa while working at a refugee resettlement agency in Denver, Colorado. Many of the refugees actually lived in refugee camps in Tanzania. Those refugees taught us a bit about Kiswahili (the national language of Tanzania), about the food, and about cultural norms. Now that we are here in Moshi, we love it! The landscape is beautiful, the people are incredibly welcoming, and the program we are working with is incredible.

Where will you live and where will you get your food?

We are currently living in Moshi, Tanzania. We are in a district of Moshi outside of the central city. It is sort of like a suburb of Moshi, but there aren’t malls and all of the typical suburb attractions. The district is called Soweto and is about 1.5 miles from the central city. Our house is on a compound with three houses. All three houses are owned by one Tanzanian family, but two of the houses are rented to other people. We are renting one house and the other house is currently being rented by men from India. We have quite the multicultural compound!

At the moment, we are eating plantain chips and guacamole. The plantain chips came from the 100+ plantains given to us at the church service last weekend. We cut all of the plantains into small pieces, boiled the pieces, and then roasted them in the oven. The plantains have a lot of sap in them so our hands were sticky for hours! It was quite the process! We made the guacamole out of HUGE avocados. The avocados are at least twice the size of avocados in the U.S. They are delicious! We purchase our food at different locations. There is a bakery called Hot Bread where we buy whole wheat bread, cheese, and chapatti bread. We purchase our other food items (pasta, peanut butter, crackers, juice, etc.) at a store across from Hot Bread. This store carries several items that we normally eat, but many of the items are imported and extremely expensive. For example, a 1” by 2” piece of dark chocolate costs 8,000 Tanzanian Shillings (about $5.33)!!! In other words, we don’t purchase all of the items that we want, or normally would have in the U.S.! We purchase our fruits and vegetables at a stand outside of this grocery store. Four to five individuals sell bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, avocados, passion fruit, broccoli, and other items outside of the store, just as they do in the central market. We will share more about the central market in a future post. The central market is where many Moshi citizens purchase their food items. Finally, we purchase purified water at a store close to our house called the Highway Market.

Do any of the 6th, 7th or 8th graders know why we might have to purchase bottled water instead of drinking water from the tap?

Thank you for reading our questions from the Avenue City School students! If you have any other questions or comments you can post them below or email us at!


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