We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Bread and Tallow

I was rendering tallow at the weekend. It brought back happy memories of those days we had pigs. Unfortunately this tallow was not from our own pigs ... Tim still needs some convincing! But before I show you how that went, let me tell you about the latest what's cookin' with the mamas...!

... Bread!

With our long-awaited new oven and new baking materials, the Upendo wa Mama group are now learning to bake! So far we have made some lovely loaves and yummy ginger biscuits. We are going to spend a fair bit of time over the next number of weeks learning and practicing. I hope they will learn well and be able to put these skills to good marketable use!

We did laugh at our cross-cultural confusions in the bread baking. When the first loaves came out of the oven, they looked wonderful to me. Nicely risen, good crust, good colour. But the mamas didn't seem quite so thrilled about them. I asked them what they thought. The general consensus was that next time, after the second rise in the bread tins, before we put the tins in the oven, we should take a large, sharp knife and nicely level off the dough at the top of the tin. I was horrified at such a suggestion! All that time beautifully rising and then you cut the top off! Why? The women pointed at the finished loaf, saying it had all overflowed the tin, it was like a mountain, all protruding up over the edges. It should be a nice square shape. And then I understood. The only bread they see here is the store-bought bread which comes completely square with no beautiful crust! This was just too different and clearly not quite right!

The first loaves (as you can see, they rose into the roof ... shelf now lowered!)
Kneading the dough
Sixty-five Ginger Biscuits
Packaging the biscuits
While we waited for the bread to bake, we read together about the Bread of Life in John 6:25-40. The woman shared quite a lot as they were reflecting on this. Jesus is not simply giving out bread, but He IS the bread! We don't want to be seeking the miracles and gifts, but seeking first Him. He, Himself, is the treasure.

Here is a quick one minute clip of the baking in action in our workshop!

Rendering Tallow

This week, as well as bread baking, we are making tallow soap. Trying to explain (rather physically) in Swahili to the man on Saturday who was slaughtering a pig, that I wanted the waxy-coated mass of leaf fat from beside the kidneys of the pig, was amusing. Then I got busy rendering the tallow. Yes, very cool.. and very little-house-on-the-prairie! It was actually rather more time-consuming and also smelly than I thought! The whole house stank ... and so, my girls told me, did I! As Amisadai said, I smelled much worse than a pig ... I smelled like dead pig. She was quite right.

Here is the process from start to finish ...

Fresh fat from the pig! 

Chopped finely and in the pot to melt

Getting there!

Strained and golden fat in the dish to set

The next morning

But the end result was these beautiful (odourless) bricks of pure white tallow. And the next end result on Wednesday, will be some lovely coconut soap!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

When Cows Distract the Beekeepers

Just when I can't think of something different that could possibly challenge the beekeeping project, something new pops up! This time it was cows. Exactly what was going on I lost in translation, but there were an awful lot of cows outside the church building in Kayenze yesterday morning and not many beekeepers. It turned out to be the village branding day which happens once every five years. Anyway, we went ahead with the five beekeepers who came and actually had a very encouraging meeting!
Tim, looking rather focussed here as he gets to the church building!

The cows just kept coming! Rather a lot of moo-ing too!

The beekeeper group is excited about starting some new things this year! First up is a tree seedling nursery.Tree planting is something we have long been passionate about integrating into our projects but also something we have found surprisingly difficult! Our attempts to develop tree nurseries have not been so successful. This time we are trying something a bit different. The beekeepers have divided themselves into smaller localised groups and each small group will start a seedling nursery, starting with the race to get a good quality shelter built! We are hoping the competition will help! We hope this will be a small business opportunity for the group as well as being a real benefit to the local community and of course the bees!

They are also planning to start a savings and loans scheme and tied in with that, we will be doing some focussed Entrepreneurship Training. It is good to see the group encouraged despite the long wait we have had for honey!

After the meeting, it was out to the hives ... this week we checked on Amos' hives. John and I went with Jenerosa and Amos for a most successful hive check. Success now measured, not by the kilos of honey harvested, but merely that no one was stung and no one got arrested!

Hive looked good!

Time to de-robe under the mango tree! Mama Jenerosa is one game mama!

Heading home (if you can find the "road")

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Heart of a Village


"The hard-hearted village".

We were the first to arrive for the Sunday service in Igumumoyo
It sounds terrible doesn't it? Who would give a place, a home, such a name? But this is the name of the new village we have started working in. Pastor Joseph Hatari (whose name incidentally is the Swahili word for danger!) explained the meaning of their village name... "people who are told but refuse to listen". He doesn't know how the village came by its name but is going to find out.

In reality, our experience of the people in Igumumoyo has been very far from hard-hearted. And the pastor is far from a dangerous man! The warmth and love shown from the people in their welcome to us has been a humbling example of warm, kind hearts. It was really special to worship with this church this morning. Only six adults and a good number of children were gathered in the small patch of shade under the tin shelter this morning. But the singing was lively with gusto and with no walls on the building there is plenty of room for growth!
Tim preaches on Isaiah 42
Time of prayer
After the service, we walked the short path back through the growing crops to Joseph's house for lunch. Mama Laurensia was helping Joseph's wife, Zena, prepare the food. This lovely woman has had nine children and lost three. We shared hot chai and rice and beans together and enjoyed getting to know each other better!

Joseph and Zena (left) with Louisa holding their baby Daniel
Louisa with little Daniel
Igumumoyo is a small and materially poor community of subsistence farmers. We trained 27 farmers from the village in September on the basics of conservation agriculture and are now working closely with those keen on developing the practice. The first planting after that training did not go so well. Most farmers failed to follow instructions and were far too late to plant. With crops now still struggling in the ground during the second rains, they are unable to get a second planting. But they understand well now! And we are doing our best to help them find available land to put the CA techniques into practice for a small second attempt. Our agricultural trainers, Peter, John and Elisha are doing a great job training and getting alongside farmers to help them. And the church together has now planted a demonstration plot with a variety of crops including intercropped maize and jackbeans, pigeon peas and choroko (green gram bean) on their property and the hope is that this will draw people to find out more!
Prayer for this plot of land

This afternoon we also went to visit Mama Mary. This is one lady who did very well after the first training! She demonstrated some great intercropping of maize, peanuts, African eggplant and pumpkins. She was able to harvest in January and has already planted again.
Mary with a good harvest!
Peter with Mary's successful maize before harvesting!
Here you can see the struggle.
Late planting and bad spacing contributed to a poor harvest here

Pastor Joseph with Reubeni, another of the farmers in the group
We are excited to be partnering with this church! Pray for Joseph and Zena as they reach out to serve their community. Our prayer is that this village would be transformed by God's grace and become known as Nyamamoyo, the village of those with a tender loving heart of flesh!

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26