The Mongers in Tanzania!

We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International and local churches on physical and spiritual development. Find out what's cookin' ... particularly on the fuel-efficient clay stoves Tim works on and Rachel cooks on!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Brilliant Rays of Brightness

Living in the light is really so much easier than living in darkness! I am so thankful for light! We flew into Mwanza last Thursday night and arrived home as darkness fell. With no candles and none of our solar lights charged, we fumbled about taking bags into our empty house and heating beans over the single burner in the dark while Tim walked to a small shop and found some candles and matches. Tired after eating, we decided to call it a day and wait for dawn's early light to start unpacking!
A long wait at Dar airport to avoid any chance of a missed flight!
The power situation in Mwanza is not so good right now ... we've heard different stories going around, but basically there is not enough for everyone so it's getting cut. They say they are sharing it out, but it doesn't seem fair sharing to me! Here in our part of town, it is cut every evening, or day, or sometimes both. So we are very quickly again appreciating the blessing of light when we have it in the darkness right now as the power has just returned! And also seeking to appreciate the enforced slowing down of living by going to bed early when it's dark!
We also appreciated the light last night. With a howling canine cacophony here every night (which we have yet to get accustomed to), we have been struggling somewhat to sleep well! But last night the noise was all the more dramatic. Tim woke first to quite a commotion - but this time a human commotion outside our house which clearly involved our night guard. We tried to figure out what was happening as we heard a lot of shouting, constant whistles, crowds growing and then more violent sounds of attack. Then flashing lights and authoritative voices and a lot of chatter. Basically thieves had broken into the house opposite ours. The house is not yet occupied and the thieves were after things like windows, wood and materials in the house. But the single guard managed to alert others and then all broke loose in "mob justice." Beating thieves to an inch of their life is common here and I truly can't imagine how anyone could contemplate crime with the potential of death if caught so high. As far as we know, the police took two men and I'm not sure what happened to the windows.
This event, along with driving though election demonstrations in town on our way home from the church meeting on Sunday, is leading us towards looking for two "real" guard dogs. On Sunday, a presidential candidate arrived in Mwanza and demonstrations and marches led to some minor rioting. It was nothing too serious, and elections are not until the end of October, but we are aware that the police will have more than enough on their hands during that time and things could be a little unpredictable!
All in all, England seems a very long way away! But we are enjoying catching up with friends and eating fresh pineapple. I'll skip over all the "transitioning" bit ... I feel like I have been thinking about it too much and probably over-analysing somewhat and for most of you, it won't make any sense anyway! But although not always the easiest of things to do, we have been "transitioning." And here we are now, just the four of us again in our own (almost set-up) home. The girls are now happy to be back, finding forgotten treasures and familiar books and climbing their favourite trees. For sure, goodbyes are so sad, but hellos are a ray of brightness! And it was brightly fun this week to have a "Staying Party," with other friends from overseas, simply celebrating that we were not saying goodbye, after a season of goodbyes!
And now to the really good, exciting news... we have two hives full of bees! This was beyond my expectations and I am of course, quite thrilled! I talked to Joseph about when they arrived (thinking they would have come in swarming time) but he said, most surprisingly, specifically, July 11. And I immediately remembered it was on July 11th that we were at the Emmanuel International event and David Varcoe prayed heartily for swarms of bees to be there! Amen!
Not the best photo, but proof that there are bees busy here!
We had a meeting with Peter and Esther (our agricultural trainers) on Monday and were able to catch up and plan ahead for the agricultural project. They have been faithful workers in our absence. Joseph also has worked well for us while we have been away. We found a crop of harvested pigeon peas and beans waiting for us. So tomorrow I will make some mbaazi wa nazi (pigeon peas in coconut) to eat with rice and chapatti.

Pigeon Peas

"Suddenly in the middle of that blackest night, right at midnight, when stars, moons and planets are utterly dimmed by enchantment, day comes. Light splits the darkness again. Day falls - shafts of glorious light, brilliant rays of brightness, dawning come untimely."  
Tales of the Resistance (David and Karen Mains)

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Tanzanian Landing

Stepping out of the plane, instantly we knew we were back home in Tanzania! That familiar blast of humidity and heat, even in the darkness at 10pm. Throngs of people waiting somewhat chaotically with beeping luggage jeeps on the tarmac for a bus to take us to the airport terminal. Suddenly we are no longer in the world of orderly queues! We made our way through the crowds scrambling for visas and were pleased to see Pastor Huruma's smiling face waiting for us on the other side!
Driving through the city late at night, we took in all the familiar sights of men hanging on in the back of trucks, small fires and oil lamps lit on the sides of the busy roads as people continue to buy and sell from the rickety wooden frames selling everything from coconuts to men's underpants. We passed a man selling toilet parts from a large box, sitting appropriately on one of several ceramic toilet seats. Bajajis and pikipikis weave through the traffic amid the constant honking of horns. Good to be home!
A bajaji
 We were warmly welcomed into Huruma and Joyce's beautiful new home! And we dropped into bed around midnight and thought how long it seemed since we had risen from our beds in Hampshire at 2am the night before! But also gratefully thought how much easier this 15 hour trip had been compared to the fraught 50-hour trip out of Tanzania four months ago!
The next day we were so warmly welcomed by the church (Victory Christian Centre). Tim preached at the 7am service, and we both spoke at the second service. We enjoyed our first Tanzanian lunch in many months and then Tim preached for the third (Youth) service. It was so different to what we have become used to over the past few months, but so instantly familiar! The energetic full sound of the music team leading the huge full tent of people in enthusiastic praise and worship. The vibrant life and excitement as a couple get engaged; they give their rings and are then paraded with khangas (cloths) and decorative flowery necklaces amid much noise and filming!
Needless to say, we slept well that night!
It is good to see Huruma, Joyce and the family again. We have also been able to visit good friends Martin and Esther. And yesterday we visited Rachel, currently on maternity leave from her job with the church, and met her beautiful new daughter.
I have been busy preparing for speaking at a women's service which took place yesterday. The girls have enjoyed playing with Joan and Marion ... with only one incident in which Louisa got stuck in a large pot when taking hide-and-seek to extremes! Today we are all looking forward to a trip to the beach!
The Hide-and-Seek "Pot Incident"
Amisadai and Louisa, Joan and Marion with Rachel and baby Ronette

Tim with Pastor Huruma in his new office

Rachel climbing the scaffolding visiting the building work at the church site.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Time to Go

(Due to my taking a bit of a "blogging break," Tim has filled the gap here! When we first prepared to move to Tanzania over five years ago, we talked about doing a shared blog. After 269 posts, this is now Blog Post #3 from Tim!)

We are now coming to the end of our time in Canada and the UK, time which is often called home assignment, deputation or furlough. It was a time we had looked forward to, meeting our family, friends and supporters, reconnecting to a degree with life here, tasting all the delights we have missed and hopefully having some rest and recharging our batteries. But in February suddenly our plans got put on hold. My father had been diagnosed with a brain tumour; I hastily rearranged my flight tickets and in a week I landed at Heathrow, on Friday 6 March, and met my parents. We enjoyed a few days together before my father underwent his operation on the following Wednesday.
So quickly, it was obvious this time back would be different and all planning would have to wait, as all attention went elsewhere. For me, it was a time of mixed feelings: on the one hand concern as I heard the medical diagnoses but on the other joy at the opportunity of supporting my parents and especially my father. I have always appreciated how sacrificial my father has been to me – I have been at the receiving end most of my life. If we were to measure in monetary terms I would be seriously in debt! Now I had the opportunity and privilege of giving a little, supporting him through the operation, then the treatment and finally the recuperation.

An adventurous walk in the woods

Watch those ice creams! He's behind you!

Fun exploring the Tower of London
What a blessing this time has been! I’m really thankful for it. In fact I actually feel renewed through it. I’m grateful that this time has afforded me the chance to refocus, to see what’s important and what is less so; to glimpse afresh at what is eternal and what is merely temporal. What could we let drop? Amongst other things we let drop trying to cram too much in and trying to prepare the perfect presentations of our life and work in Tanzania. Such presentations we could never have achieved anyway – sharing from the heart is what matters, and I hope we at least tried to do this.

It’s been good to see that life is a gift, so let’s make the most of it in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. I am particularly grateful to the way our daughters, Amisadai and Louisa, have responded, accepting the circumstances without grumbling, but taking every opportunity to love and encourage Grandad. And I think they too through this attitude have been rewarded. I am thankful to Rachel for her support and how she has got on with all the practical things, which in every time still need to be done.

We leave next week to return to Tanzania for another two years, knowing that too is a privilege. May we continue to refocus so that we give ourselves to what is really important there. Being in Tanzania is also a gift. May we use it well, may lives be changed, may love be shared, may hope be imparted.

So as we come to the end of our time in the UK, we are thankful that we can leave with my father getting stronger, and we are thankful for everyone’s support and understanding.

Monday, 15 June 2015

What's Cookin' in the UK?

For those of you in the UK, don't forget that we'd love to see you this Saturday! Starting at 5pm, you are welcome to the Sarum Hill Centre in Basingstoke for tea and cake. We want to thank those of you who are supporting us in different ways and also invite anyone who is interested to find out more about what we are doing in Tanzania.

As well as time to visit and chat, we will take some time to share some stories, speaking about the work we are doing. Amisadai and Louisa will also share a bit and have a "Watoto" (kids) table with some short videos and colouring/activities.

Karibuni Sana! (You are very welcome!)

A collage of our varied life and work in Tanzania!
It is hard to believe that we are over halfway through our time here in the UK. It has been good to catch up with many of you... although not so many as we would like! It has been very good to be with family, particularly time together with Tim's parents and brother and family on the Isle of Wight. While good to be together, it was a very rough time health-wise for Tim's Dad. But he has thankfully improved a lot since then, as his blood count climbs and his strength returns. We have also enjoyed being back with Tadley Community Church and the girls have loved being part of Aldermaston Primary School again. We have all enjoyed the great variety of food; the chilly weather less so!
Cousins enjoy being together at the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight
Girls speaking in North Community Church
We have been able to speak in both Tadley and North Community Church, Basingstoke; we've taken some classes and assemblies at the school, celebrated International Albinism Day, and the girls and I are planning a Sunday School for this Sunday. We've shared some lovely meals and chats with people. We've even made maandazi (Tanzanian donuts) a couple of times, although after the first deep fry session in the kitchen, I was consequently banished to the garage for future cooking!
Banished to cook in the garage!

Mini Maandazi for Year 4 and North Church!
We've booked in all those appointments for doctors, optometrists, dentists, travel nurses etc... and have a shopping list to work on. Amisadai is taking advantage of being reunited with her violin teacher again, and both girls are enjoying the local library. Tim and I are making the most of the time here to do some research into project work and reading up on relevant material. So fitting all this in between the school runs (which takes almost 2 hours each day!) and talk and slideshow preparations doesn't exactly make it a holiday, but with the odd coffee out it is definitely a change from our rather different Tanzanian life!

The differences in the two lives sometimes seem rather silently stark. And how that works out in daily life and even conversation is not always easy! Sometimes I feel I can't even begin to enter a conversation; it feels like points of contact and context have been blown away. I still haven't been able to walk into a clothes shop in the UK. How weird is that? I have been able to do the supermarket, but I wander about illogically and it takes me three times longer than it should. Am I strange or do I just feel strange? My priorities are different and it's strange being back to where I was, when they are not where they were. Time and money. Concepts of which are forever affected.

I better stop here, before Tim accuses me once again of "over-analysing" and you all think me rather abnormal. Inner turmoil aside, it is good to be back for while!

Ice Cream Treats in the New Forest! Whippy flakes with toppings!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

International Albinism Awareness Day

June 13th is International Albinism Awareness Day! And we are going to celebrate with HATS!

If you have been reading our blog, you are no doubt already aware of albinism and the problems that people with albinism are facing in Tanzania at the moment. But so many are not aware. Our love and concern for people with albinism, particularly those in the Mwanza region makes it impossible for us to let this day to pass by unnoticed or unmarked!

Limi (30), a woman with albinism and mother of four from Katavi, is the most recent victim of attack in Tanzania. She survived the attack just over 2 weeks ago, but her right hand was cut off and taken for witchcraft potions. A few months earlier, one-year old Yohanna Bahati was killed when attackers hacked off both of his arms and legs. His mother, Ester, was seriously injured and left unconscious as she tried to save her son.

But it is not only the mutilations and murder. The sun also kills. It has been reported only 2% of people with albinism live until they are 40 because of skin cancer. They need to be wearing protective sun hats and sunscreen and have access to education and treatment in cancer clinics.

We are all different. Different heights, sizes, shapes, colours, and abilities, both physical and intellectual...  But yet we are all created and loved by God. We all in some way bear His image. We are all uniquely different and yet equally special.

June 13th has been officially set aside by the UN as a day to celebrate people with albinism. Recognize them, remember them, honour them and value them. We have the opportunity to stand in support of them and be a voice that sends out a message of love over the noise of murder and discrimination.

We are going to make and wear fun hats. People with albinism should be wearing hats to protect themselves from the sun. Unfortunately, many don't have hats and even then, those that do, don't like to wear them as it makes them feel even more "different." Celebrating their lives (with hats!) on this day is just a very simple way of standing with them in support... their lives matter!

Now I know that a group of people wearing crazy hats will not solve the problems of albinism. I wish it were that simple. But I encourage you to mark this day. Pray for these people. Share their story. Support them in ways that you can.

It is strange feeling so far away here in the UK. I feel like I read the news and stories as one far away and sadly detached. But yet I know and think of Penina, Rose, Monika, Saidaiti, Laurensia and other mamas in Tanzania who bear the pain and fear involved in albinism. I think of the children at Lake View School. I think of the families of those murdered, of those struggling in the aftermath of attack. And I pray for change.

I don't know how or when things will change. It is complicated and there is no easy answer. Here in the UK it is easy to think everyone can help... send a donation, send a hat, send suncream, or sign a petition to the government. But it really isn't that simple. Beliefs run deep in hearts; hearts are hard to change. But we pray for change and we help where we can.

I know we have friends all over the place who share our love and concern for people with albinism, so celebrate their life and pray for them with us! Put on your hats!

As well as planning a Crazy Hat Day and special assembly at Aldermaston Primary School, Amisadai and Louisa are hoping to collect some crazy hat photos on their blog (coming soon!) so please do share (by email or on our albinism day Facebook page) a photo of your crazy hat or silly sunglasses! Spread the word!

Here is a short slideshow of some of what we see and do in Tanzania...

Colour of Skin: Albinism from Rachel Monger on Vimeo.

On another note, my apologies for the lack of communication recently on the blog. I'm afraid I rather lost the routine, but hope to pull things together again soon! We are still in the UK, staying with Tim's parents and would appreciate your continued prayers for Tim's Dad. The past few weeks have been the hardest and lowest for him and is particularly struggling with very low blood counts and radio burns to his left eye. Thanks!