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!

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!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Changing Gears

So now we are in the UK! We arrived on Friday and as well as catching up with Tim's mum and dad (who is thankfully doing remarkably well!) and celebrating Louisa's 9th birthday, we ventured into town to sort out things like car insurance and phones and do a quick school uniform and shoe hunt. Shoes proved a lot easier to buy here in England than in Tanzania!

Not our airport trolley! A sculpture in Toronto Airport.
It is always rather hard changing gears and after the rapid pace of the past few weeks, in which we have preached, presented various talks on the work in Tanzania for different occasions, done two school assemblies, visited with so many kind supporters in rather quick succession, and changed time zones twice... I think I am probably still bringing up the clutch!

It is always a strange thing coming back. Whether in Canada, UK or Tanzania, we are home but we are not home! So much is familiar, yet everything is so different. While enjoying the food we've missed and the luxuries of constant electricity and hot baths, we are hit with the material world of shops and activities which is rather overwhelming and at the same time tempting, while also impossible! Suddenly the time matters and we need to remember sweaters not water bottles. Things feel strangely out of context and where we are really does seem such a world away from where we were!

But it is always wonderful to see family and friends again! To feel like you never even left and are not forgotten! To receive the love and kind welcome from so many! To catch up with people's lives...  the unfortunate thing about writing the blog is that I will talk to someone who knows all about our life (from the blog) but I know nothing about their past 2-3 years.

So we are looking forward to catching up on different things in the UK over the next few months. With Tim's dad going through chemo and radiotherapy every weekday at the moment, we may not get to as many personal visits as we would like to, but we really hope that we will meet with as many friends and supporters as possible at some of the following events! Please do get in touch with us!

Welcome to ...

May 17th - Tadley Community Church
Followed by Potluck Lunch so plan to stay and eat and chat!

June 7th - North Church Basingstoke, Café Church

June 20th - Evening with the Mongers (The Sarum Hill Centre, Basingstoke)
5pm onwards (finishing early to make it easier for those out-of-town!)

July 11th - Emmanuel International Summer Event (11am Trinity Church, Harrow)

July 12th - Trinity Church Harrow

July 19th - Farewell Tadley Community Church

And now a quick look back to Ontario this past week ...

We had a great time in the Toronto area, visiting the Emmanuel International Canada office. We stayed with wonderful hosts, Richard and Pam McGowan in Stouffville. We were treated by their son and lovely family to an amazing visit to Niagara Falls - a first for us all. It was absolutely spectacular in the sunshine with a very strong, cold wind!

Driving through Toronto

With Gary, Michelle, Carys, Breckyn and Tavish

We were able to meet the wonderful EI team there and update them on the work we are doing in Mwanza; we were warmly welcomed by Stouffville Christian School where the girls did an assembly, and we were able to speak at an evening event organised by the EIC office for the Board and friends and supporters.
Girls assembly at SCS

Evening talk at EIC
We were so thrilled to meet up with Laura (our friend from Iringa, now living in Ontario) and the girls were so excited to have a real snow experience with her!

Only from Tanzania ... in the snow in flip flops!
We loved this sign ... but couldn't see how the road was broken!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Next Stop: Stouffville

It has been so great to spend time with family and catch up with friends here in the Vancouver area! It was especially good to see so many at the Open House last week. We are so grateful for the support and love we receive here! Thank you to all who came!

We have enjoying being with The King's Community Church and also back for an assembly at The King's School. I attended the school from grade 4-12 and was later a teacher there for two years and we have since had two teams visit us in Tanzania from the school so there is a lot of history there! As well as visiting friends and old haunts we have made a dent in our shopping list, things like shoes and underwear were rather necessary and then a few more interesting things to take back like Ranch dressing mix!

Back with our Canada Teams

A great surprise at the Open House when EIUK chairman, David Varcoe from London walked in!

A visit to The King's School for an assembly about bees
... with Louisa as our mascot!

With Peter and Don, at Under the Same Sun, showing them the Upendo wa Mama bead necklaces
We enjoyed another day out with my parents in Vancouver, exploring by bus, skytrain and seabus, soaking up the sights of the mountains and city!

On the seabus

Lonsdale Quay
Next week we are leaving Beautiful British Columbia and heading to the Toronto area. We are looking forward to spending time with the folks at Emmanuel International Canada and also visiting Stouffville Christian School.

On Wednesday evening (April 22nd) at 6:30pm, EIC are hosting a dinner which will be followed by us sharing about our work and then a time to stay and chat afterwards. We welcome any who are able to join us!

Emmanuel International Canada
3967 Stouffville Rd (on south side of Stouffville Rd, just East of Kennedy Rd)