Interview with Brandon

Rachel: Good afternoon, Brandon. Thank you for taking time to answer the following questions.

Brandon:I always enjoy the opportunity to fill in our readers about the T-Z.

R:Oh dear, Formalities aside, what are you currently coaching and teaching?

B:This term has been a busy one for me. I am starting a full contact U-15 rugby team from scratch. I am continuing our primary baseball program into the secondary level for the first time, and I am helping the local soccer league host weekly matches at HOPAC. Although busy it has been a lot of fun especially the rugby. Also, the readers might enjoy knowing that I am putting grades 3-8 through a fitness test, The Presidential Fitness Challenge to be exact. You haven’t really run a mile until you’ve run it in the midday, equatorial sun.

R:So it’s clear to see you’ve enjoyed your time at HOPAC, what has been the most special and unique thing about teaching at HOPAC?

B:There are many things I enjoy about teaching at HOPAC. The first is that parents and students really want to make sure teachers are happy and feel appreciated. They go out of their way. Also, I enjoy the fact I have opportunities to get to know the students outside of the school context. For the readers that don’t know, Rachel and I assist in the HOPAC sponsored youth group on Friday Nights. This time has been valuable to me especially, to form solid relationships with some of the ‘lads’ from HOPAC. Many of these guys form the core of my sports teams as well. It has helped me in coaching and teaching to have these relationships in place.

R:Speaking of youth group, we recently chaperoned for the 30 Hour Famine, an event we chaperoned for our youth group last year in Minneapolis. What was the same, what was different?

B:Ooh, good question, but first I must fill in some readers on the Famine. It is a World Vision sponsored event in which students raise money for children living in an impoverished country. Last year the country of focus was Uganda and this year Indonesia. Then there is a lock-in event where students and staff fast for 30 hours while doing activities that help teach about the children’s situations. Despite the lack of food, it is a great event that is a ton of fun for those participating.

Ok, now getting back to the questions… boy that ones difficult to explain. wow, let me try to get my head around this question adequately enough to explain it. You might have to help me with this answer. In fact, I’ll turn that one back on you, babe. You answer it.

R:haha, ok fine. I think Brandon is having a hard time explaining this huge dichotomy because its two sided, or somewhat of a “double dicotomy” but I’ve probably already lost you at that. On the current hand, we had our youth group this year being taught from a world vision pamphlet all about malnutrition, malaria, poor or no education, unclean water, and other issues belonging to the extremely impoverished individuals living in Indonesia. Now, this all seemed a little odd and patronizing when the youth group students live in a similar tropical, third world country. These issues are available to see first hand as soon as any of them leave their gated houses. In fact, many of them have had malaria themselves. During the famine, this kind of became a joke: “oh good, we get to learn more from World Vision about what it means to live in a third world country! ha ha ha, this is super funny! I already know all this stuff!”

But then on the flip side, or the previous hand, the kids we worked with in Minneapolis last year, although they might not have known first hand the fevers of malaria, or seen with their own eyes the levels poverty that our HOPAC kids see (if they actually notice), but I would be willing to wager all of HOPAC’s students’ first, second, and third iPods that our Minneapolis kids understood and experienced more poverty and effects of poverty themselves in the urban areas of the developed western world than any of these HOPAC students have in their own personal lives.

I don’t know if I was able to explain that double dichotomy very well… but I hope so.

B:I think you did just fine. Thanks for the assist. It was very Steve Nash of you.

R:Who’s Steve Nash, football player isn’t he?

B:Oh dear. Only the NBA’s two time MVP.

R:But isn’t an assist something you get in football?

B:Only if you help make a tackle and weren’t the primary tackler then yes.

R:See that question wasn’t that out of line. Anyways going back to the interview: as you look back over this year, what are some of the things that God has taught you?

B: I was hoping you would take it easy on me, but I’ll take a stab at it. I guess the biggest thing God has taught me is that He will use you, whether you are qualified by human standards or not. I don’t have the resume to do the job I am doing. In order to be a Sports Coordinator in the States you’d have a masters degree, be bald, gray, or both. Here at HOPAC, there was a need that needed to be filled and God has allowed me to fill it, despite my lack of degree or experience in this field. Also, I’ve noticed this trend with other missionaries as well. They come to do one thing but end up doing something else. There’s a flexibility needed to do missions work. Rachel has had to teach at times Kindergarten, Art, and has been entrusted with the 6th English class, only one of those she knew of before we came.

R:That’s right. So true. Thanks for that. Now our time in Dar is coming to a close very soon so let me ask you this…What is the first thing you will do when you get back to the US?

B:Eat Mexican food. Tanzania is fortunate enough to have international dishes available at many places, but Mexican is never on the menu. Call it a craving.

R:What is the second thing you’ll do?

B:Eat a Wendy’s Double Chesseburger with fries (not chips) and wash it down with a large Mello Yello. I have lost close to 30 lbs in weight since I’ve been here. I feel I deserve a double cheeseburger. Yet, it is a goal of mine not to eat as much when I return to the States.

R:Good luck on that. I’ll try to help you with that. Thanks for this interview. It was a lovely time.

B:No problem. If you don’t mind me asking the readers to be sure and check out my new website,

R:An interview can never go by with out a plug. Not even here. Until next time readers……….

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