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 stoves Tim works on and Rachel cooks on!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Baptism in the Indian Ocean

We were so delighted and proud to see Amisadai get baptised on Sunday! We have put some of the photos together in a short video for those of you who would have liked to be there for it! Thanks so much for the messages and prayers - it was very special!

Amisadai Faith Monger Baptism from Rachel Monger on Vimeo.

We had an amazing weekend in Dar es Salaam. We arrived very late on Friday night. On Saturday, Tim's dad was teaching at the Bible School and in the afternoon we enjoyed some fun in the pool! We were up before sunrise on Sunday and set off at 6am to the beach for Amisadai's baptism in the Indian Ocean. We all sang Amazing Grace in the early morning sun, Amisadai shared why she wanted to be baptised (read below), Pastor Huruma gave a short message and a few of us shared some things for Amisadai. Then it was into the waves with Grandad and Uncle Huruma! It was lovely to see Amisadai take this big step as she follows God in her own walk with Him.

Click here to read what Amisadai shared.

After a quick change, we arrived late at the 7am first service in which Tim's Dad was preaching. That was followed by chai and then the 10am service. It was great to be back with Victory Christian Church (VCC) again; they have been such a great support to us!

After the services, we were treated by VCC to the most incredible, amazing lunch with the Nkone family! It was such a treat, and such a good time all together! We were 21 stories high and yes, the LONG lift was pretty exciting for the girls! The experience was comparable to Buddy's in Elf, but although the comment was made to press all the buttons like a Christmas tree, we didn't! We stepped out of the lift to a view from heaven! Surrounded by windows in a revolving restaurant! Wow!

Only in Africa would you find an open window at waist height on the 21st floor!
And yes ... we had to tell Louisa to get down from the window sill!
This photo was taken leaning out of the open window on the 21st floor ... don't show my mom!


Louisa with Joan and Marion

Beautifully presented!
Delicious! Pickled Octopus

Friday, 12 September 2014

Compassion (com·pati)

com·pas·sion. com·pati. com·passus. co-suffering

Our English word, compassion comes from the Latin words "com" (with, together) and "pati" (the one who suffers, from which we get the word "patient" and "pity"). It is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as the "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." It is to love together. The Swahili word is "huruma."

Last week we saw this word in action. The people at BMCC (Beacon Mission Christian Centre), a TAG church we work with in Nyegezi,  are compassionately serving their community in their desire to see people released from problems and all types of poverty. They run a nursery school, have been working with street kids since 2010 and with children with albinism since 2013. They recently teamed up with Compassion (Child Sponsorship Program) and it was their Compassion project for children in poverty that we specifically went to see last Saturday. Friends of ours in Tadley who work with Compassion UK were speaking at our church in Tadley last Sunday and they wanted some first-hand information and recent photos. So we went and Remmie (the Projects Director) told us more about the work they are doing.

Compassion kids learning about malaria
With Pastor Mbuke (centre) and Remmie (left)
So far, they have 201 children from families in poverty who they are helping through the Compassion partnership. They seek to help the children in four major areas: spiritual development, physical development (health and nutrition), social development, and intellectual development (income generating projects, education and skills training).

Many of these children are underweight or malnourished. Diets at home are poor and help is needed to help and teach the mamas about nutrition and balanced diet. Many of the children are often sick; every week Remmie says that over 20 children are at home sick. This is often due to poor hygiene and sanitation. Teaching is given on clean water; mamas have been told to boil water, but they say that they don’t own a big enough pot to boil the water in and it uses too much valuable fuel. Children that have been orphaned and are living with relatives are often abused or badly treated. BMCC teaches about the rights of children, their right to be loved and protected. They work with the government on child protection issues and are able to intervene and help children in harmful situations. They are able to pray with these children and their families. Sharing in the suffering and helping to alleviate it. And they are seeing suffering alleviated.
Uji time!

It is so encouraging to see the love and passion of God's people shared with others in the midst of their suffering; people demonstrating true compassionPeople who are not selfishly thinking of their own desires and avoiding suffering. But looking at Jesus who embodies the word compassion. People who are joining with (com) other people, seeking to understand their situation, showing love and kindness, especially to those who are suffering (pati).

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
And so from the above verse, we see that all this compassion ends in com-fortis (with strength). A good place to finish. How many ways can we think of to show compassion and to give comfort?

Outside the BMCC church building
On another note, here is a recent news report from CBC which looks at the need for fuel-efficient stove projects! Good to see that CBC agrees with us!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Where Zebras Roam and Monkeys Steal Snacks

Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika. Zebras wander the roads and monkeys hop from tree to tree. There are apparently two families of zebra in town, each frequenting their own particular area; one family came early each morning to visit us! And the cheeky monkeys hopped from tree to tree outside our cottage with beady eyes peeled, waiting for the opportunity to steal a snack. We left our breakfast table momentarily unguarded one day and quick as a flash they scarpered off with our loaf of bread!
Zebras outside our cottage
We enjoyed a lovely few days with Tim's parents at Jacobsen's in Kigoma, a beautiful spot with a private beach on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Unlike Lake Victoria, this lake (in the Rift Valley) is deep and clean and lovely to swim in! While Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa, Lake Tanganyika is the deepest, the largest by volume, in Africa. It is second in the world to Lake Baikal in Siberia and it is the longest in the world. As well as being close to Ujiji, famous as the meeting place of Livingstone and Stanley (see the last blog post), it is also close to Gombe, the home of the research centre where Jane Goodall has carried out her research on chimpanzees. We wanted to visit the chimps there, but you have to be bigger than Louisa to be allowed in the Park

Lake Tanganyika

It took a while to get there from Mwanza. We started the journey on Monday; a four hour drive which included a chaotic ferry line-up, to Geita on a tarmac road.
A night in Geita
We continued on Tuesday on a bumpy dirt road for 11 hours. The road was not in good shape due to rain the previous day. At one point we came to a halt on a very muddy section of road with a truck well and truly stuck in front of us and others looking perilously close to their demise. Unable to carry on, we turned back and took a detour passing by the gold mines. Lots of mud but no gold. We were all happy to arrive at our lovely accommodation at 6pm that evening!
Stuck in the mud
Greedy Gold Diggers

While in Kigoma, we enjoyed lots of swimming and dingy boat antics in the Lake. We were able to meet up with good friends, the Essers, who we met in Iringa and who now live in Kigoma. And we enjoyed meeting up with another friend, Pastor David Nkone, the brother of Huruma. You will already have read in the last post about our interesting excursion to Ujiji, not far from Kigoma. Then there were evening games with Grandma and Grandad and just time to read a book! We were all sorry to leave early on Saturday morning.

Since arriving back in Mwanza, the girls have returned happily to school and we had the excitement of celebrating Dad's 70th birthday!

A Birthday Dinner at Malaika
The waiters and waitresses came to sing Happy Birthday!

Back at Lake Victoria
Tim is busy! Today he begins his teaching course at the Bible College, tomorrow and Thursday, he and his Dad are teaching a 2-day Pastors Conference and next week Tim starts the Conservation Agricultural Training.

We go with Tim's parents to Dar es Salaam on Friday for the weekend; we are thrilled for Amisadai who is going to be baptised there on Sunday. This will be with Victory Christian Church with Pastor Huruma, in the Indian Ocean! We are so proud of her making this step; it is quite unbelievable how quickly she is growing up!

(Sorry about the repetition in this blog with Amisadai's ... we were writing them at the same time and Amisadai published hers first!)

Monday, 8 September 2014

Under the Mango Tree. "Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?"

Dr Livingstone, I presume?” We visited the spot in which these words that made history were allegedly uttered. Henry Stanley, a journalist on a mission to find David Livingstone, finally caught up with the "lost" explorer under a mango tree in Ujiji on November 10th, 1871. And almost 150 years later, our imaginations carried the story as we sat at the scene. The huge shady mango tree sadly died in the 1920’s, but two of its branches were used to plant two mango trees that stand there today, beside the plaque commemorating one of the most famous meetings in history.
Re-enacting the Scene!

Under the Mango Tree. The Mongers, I presume.

Ujiji, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, is a very obviously Muslim village. It has nothing of the beauty of Livingstonia in Malawi, which was our last Livingstonian pilgrimage (a mountainous village where a mission was established which later took a public stand against racial tension in 1959). In Ujiji we see the beginnings of a long slave trade route, a route that goes all the way from Lake Tanganyika to Bagamoyo on the Indian Ocean coast. The route is marked by huge mango trees planted on either side. Captured slaves were taken along this route of mango trees to the coast where they would then be sent by ship to Zanzibar and sold. Slaves in chains, exhausted and starving, walking over 1200km in the searing heat, beaten to move forward or left to die in the sun if they couldn’t.
The Mango Trees. Slave Trade Route
The steps of David Livingstone and those of the many slaves through the mango trees were retraced in 1993 by Livingstone’s great grandson, Dr. David Livingstone Wilson (age 67)… although instead of a compass, he was guided by three satallites and a GPS.

Sitting under a large, fully grown mango tree, planted from a larger, even older one, reflecting on the links between the slave route and David Livingstone and also the generational links of Livingstones causes one to think about what has changed. Yes, David Livingstone changed the course of history with his passionate and determined efforts to abolish slavery. But yet, even as we look appalled at the atrocities of the past, we still see slavery today. They may not be marked by mango trees, but the routes for trafficking enslaved people are there nonetheless. We don't need to look far.

Livingstone frees slaves
David Livingstone’s aim when he arrived in Africa, a young doctor in twenties from Scotland, was to bring Christianity to Africa. He died at the age of 60 (after years of terrible illness and hardship), fighting to end slavery. He saw the horrific results of the slave trade: villages burned, corpses in rivers and people in chains. And he himself freed hundreds of slaves. His dream was for sustainable development for Africa. And up until the day he died in 1873, everywhere he went he talked about “a redeemer who was his master.” Slaves redeemed.

Slaves redeemed. The price paid. A good Master. Sitting under the shade of an historic mango tree, looking at the dirt road of mango trees, I know the reality of a world enslaved. But I also know the significance of a tree. A slave route here in Tanzania is marked with mango trees but we have a slave redeemer who marked the way to freedom crucified on a tree. 
In the Mango Tree

Monday, 18 August 2014

Mamas' Pain and a Tree Planted

Last week we had a text from our friend Ester telling us that yet another person with albinism has been brutally attacked. She asked us to pray.

Brutal Attacks
Last Thursday, Munghu, a 35 year old woman with albinism, was attacked. Her left arm was hacked off below the elbow, her right arm mutilated and she was left to bleed to death. Her husband (without albinism) was killed as he tried to defend his wife and their two children. Munghu and her children are currently being treated in hospital.
Munghu recovering from the attack
Not long before, on August 5th, Pendo (which translated means "Love"), a 15 year old girl with albinism, was attacked. Attackers hacked off her right hand from below the elbow and disappeared into the darkness with it. Pendo has been recovering in hospital, in fear but "stable" condition. Police have arrested a neighbour who is a witchdoctor but they are still looking for two other attackers who have not been identified.

Pendo recovering from her brutal attack
Just a few days before this attack I was watching "White and Black: Crimes of Colour" a DVD produced in collaboration with Under the Same Sun (UTSS). It follows the undercover work of Vicky Ntetema examining the superstitions and fears surrounding albinism in Tanzania and the brutal consequences of these prejudices and the witchdoctors who prey on people with albinism for profit. Not easy viewing, but an important message communicated. So much good work is going on here to help people with albinism (PWA). Ester who works with UTSS is an incredible ambassador for PWA. Through the work of Ester and many others, children with albinism are protected and educated, awareness is spreading both nationally here and internationally about the awful truth of what is happening. And as efforts continue to push for change with the support of the UN, progress is being made to change the future for PWA.  But watching this DVD, I was struck by the effects on the whole family of a child with albinism. Families torn apart in tragedy, fear, grief and rejection.

Mamas Grieving
I have been talking with Ester about meeting with a small group of mamas of children with albinism. Just six of many mamas who have travelled the difficult and painful journey of albinism. Mamas whose young children have been brutally murdered or attacked. Mamas who live in constant fear of attack, constant fear for the life of their child. Mamas who are cursed and shunned by their family or village for giving birth to a child with albinism. Mamas whose husbands may have played a role in  horrific attacks. Mamas who have given birth only to have their husband leave them to find a wife who "is not cursed" to bear his children.

Jane is one such mama here. She has been given (by people of UTSS) a safe home in that same village where we walked the water walk and more recently held lots of babies. When she was eighteen and 5 months pregnant with her first child, her husband died. Grieving, she went back to her family and in time gave birth to her child, a child with albinism. She was immediately cut off from her late husbands family. Later, a man approached Jane and her family, asking to marry her. The family was delighted (it is incredibly hard to be a widow, particularly here in Tanzania and even more so if you have a child with albinism). But before the marriage took place, Jane was approached secretively by a friend of the man, who warned her that her future husband had dark intentions to kill the child (to sell body parts for witchcraft). Jane broke off with the man, but after escaping intruders in her home one night, she knew the life of her child was in danger, and her own life at risk as well. She now lives with her child in anonymous safety; she has been given training in sewing and is able to support herself and her child by sewing clothes which she sells here in Mwanza and also in her mother's village.

How we can help these mamas? For me, I think it will start with chai. But I hope that I can get to know some of these mamas, that we can read the story of Bible together, pray and share hope together. That we can learn new skills in crafts and cooking and set up small businesses that would support these women and their precious children.

A Tree Planted ...
Our tree planting work is now officially underway! Yesterday we went to Nyegezi Corner Church on the other side of Mwanza. This church has given us space on their land to start a tree nursery which will feed into the conservation agriculture project. We asked if there was someone in the church who we could train up to run this project and we have been given a fantastic young man!
Bahati Daudi
Bahati Daudi
Bahati Daudi (which translated means "Lucky David") is a young guy with just primary education who came to the city from a village in another region to "make a life". So many young boys do this. It is pretty heart-breaking. The city is full of boys on the street who have left their families and come from a village to "make a life" here. But sadly, it just doesn't work like this. So Bahati Daudi is here, with little education and no job, but he has a great heart - one to work and to serve! We are really excited about the potential for this young man and look forward to working with him and helping him set up this nursery as a growing business that will meet his needs, help our projects and also benefit the farms and homes of many people in Mwanza and the surrounding villages.

Bibles and Bags of Poop
Prior to Sunday, Tim and Daudi had built a fenced area for the nursery. And on Sunday, as you do, we arrived at the service with our Bibles and our bags of poop! With our bags of compost we also had seeds and metres of plastic tubing to plant the seeds in. Joseph, our young guard who is fast growing in his faith and also in the way that he helps us, came with us. He taught Bahati Daudi how to compost and then to plant the seeds. And with a few papaya trees and moringa trees in the making, we left the rest to Daudi. And a text from Daudi at 9am this morning told us he had already planted almost 60 trees!
Planting papaya and moringa seeds
The girls were super hungry! We crept (hot and a little stiffly) out of the long service which was still going strong at 1:45pm and got to work on the trees ... I'm not sure what time this photo was taken, but as the girls ran around with the kids, one of the mamas offered them lunch! (We got some later!)

This church has a great thing going! Each department (PA, worship team, Sunday school etc.) is responsible for an area of the church plot. They can choose to do with it what they like ... plant maize, cassava, sugarcane ...
This area is about to be filled with water and become a fish farm!