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

Monday, 18 September 2017


We have now been back in Tanzania for a week! Time is such a strange thing. While at times I can't believe a week has flown by, I also can't believe it was only a week ago we were at the Basingstoke TKS Celebration before heading to the airport; it feels like another life an eternity ago! It is great to be back home and it's been a very busy but good week of meeting up with people and starting to unpack the house and sort everything out! Time to enter another season! After leaving in such a hurry at the beginning of the year, it was so strange finding all these things just left abandoned so many months ago, so many things left undone! Where did that time go?!

The girls were happy to get back to school and reconnect with all their friends! Louisa has started Secondary School and although she was a little concerned about missing the start of the year, is now all caught up and apart from the greater load of homework, enjoying being a Year 7 student! And early on our first day back, Tim started teaching again at the Bible College.

There seems so much to catch up on! While much remains the same, time changes things. So much has changed as people have moved away or moved in, babies have been born, there are new roads ... and far more expensive bananas!

It has been great to have our "team" all together for the first time. We were able to share a meal together at the Ewings home on Tuesday, attend Mkuyuni church yesterday, where we were all warmly welcomed and able to share another meal together with their leaders and then today we had our first Monday morning team meeting all together!

The EI team with leaders from Mkuyuni Church

Warmly welcomed by Mkuyuni Church
(Their building has progressed amazingly in our absence!)
Amisadai and I were happy to finally meet Simon and Victoria and their two children, Tabitha and Reuben! And it was so wonderful to meet little Ethan, the new addition to the Newby family! And it was lovely to have Esther visit with her baby girl, Praise! Born the day before Ethan in May, she too is no longer a little newborn! Esther is doing well and hoping to start doing a couple of days a week for the agriculture project.

With Esther and baby Praise

Peter is doing a great job carrying the Agriculture Project! More on that another time, but just to say he is very busy this week with four days of training in two villages with over forty farmers! We have already had a little rain here and are praying for good rains this year!

I met with the Mamas Group on Saturday for the first time in many months! It was wonderful to see everyone again ...and discover Mama Laurencia has given birth to twins! More on that later too!

But today has been a difficult and sad day. We are grieving the loss of a good friend, Martin Shaw who died very suddenly in Dar es Salaam last night. Martin, like us, moved to Tanzania from Tadley. His wife Esther, in Dar es Salaam, and his children in the UK are much in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. As our pastor in Tadley, Greg, said so well, "We are grateful to God for Martin's clear Christian faith, his commitment to God's kingdom, and his sure hope of eternal life. Martin was a man of boundless optimism and confidence in the future, a man who always made big plans, followed where God led, and who saw many of those plans come to fruition. I will certainly miss his enthusiasm, can-do attitude and practical outlook." We will all miss him.

This photo was taken before either Martin (centre) or ourselves moved to Tanzania,
but here we are with our good Tanzanian friends Huruma and Zakayo at John and Tania's house in England!
And so I end up reflecting on the fragility of our time here on Earth. The priorities we set and those things done or left undone. Those things that time changes and what remains the same. What will I do with my time? And I am left thankful for a solid hope, eagerly anticipating an eternity without time.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The 100km Challenge for the Islands

100 kilometres. Twenty-four hours. The South Coast Challenge. This was the challenge for Sue and Ineke. Starting at Eastborne at 9am on Saturday, August 26th, they (along with about 1600 others)walked (or ran) over the Seven Sisters and along the South Downs Way all the way to Arundel.

We are personally very grateful to Ineke who walked for the Rural Island Health Project on Kome Island! She walked with Sue Fallon who was raising money for the Pads Project in Uganda. And they were incredible! It was a really tough challenge, walking that great distance up and down steep hills across rough terrain. Walking all day in the hot sun and then on through the long darkness of the night with blistered feet.

We went to Steyning, (close to their route) where our good friends, Andy and Angela live. We all headed out at 12:30pm, walking by flashlight from their house to the point on the South Downs Way where Sue and Ineke would pass. We waited in the dark, watching the little lights of the walkers making their way across the top ridge of the hill and down to us at the river.
Looking a bit like a constellation
The walkers as they make their way across and down the hill
It was probably almost 2am when Sue and Ineke came by. We went with them to the food and drink station where they could grab a snack and attend to their painful, bandaged feet. And then we prayed and cheered them on their way! We walked back to Andy and Angela's house, arriving about 3am and went to bed as Ineke and Sue walked on through the night. We later arrived back in Basingstoke at 10:00am in time for church, with the news that they had made it to the finish!

A brief rest at 2am

Sue sets off again

And Ineke is off again!
We are so grateful for Ineke's support of the health project which will serve people on the islands on Lake Victoria. You can read more about this project on the blog ... and will definitely hear much more in the weeks and months ahead! But about the project in a nutshell ... as well as low survival rate in labour for both mother and child, people on these islands experience numerous health issues due to unsafe water and poor sanitation. The Rural Island Community Health (RICH) project will seek to provide medical care and health education for the people on the islands. With an emphasis on maternal and child health, the project wants to engage in preventative and primary healthcare through mobile clinics. Our new team-mates, the Ewing family, are working with Dr. Makori and the local church to move this project forward!

Huge thanks to Ineke for her amazing support and congratulations to both her and Sue for their amazing achievement!

See the link here to read more about their challenge: http://www.eiuk.org.uk/sue-and-ineke-are-raising-funds-for-ei-projects/
And if you would still like to give your support, it's not too late!

(and after saying this blog would continue from Tanzania ... no ... we are still here in England!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Blog is Back

This is the first time I have written a blog update in about five months! Sorry about that! 

Back in February, Amisadai and I rather abruptly left Tanzania with our two small bags, thinking we were coming to England for a few weeks; we have now been away from home for seven months! We were happily reunited with Tim and Louisa two and a half months ago in Canada and now we are together back in England, slightly in limbo once again, waiting for insurance to cover us before we can return to Tanzania.

It is ridiculously difficult to know what to say after five months! It has been wonderful to see so many friends while we have been back ... we have been able to reconnect with many (and make new friends) and it has been strangely familiar sort-of-slotting back into the make-up of life both in Canada and England. Yet there are people we haven't seen, or just had very little time with, and that is always rather sad! It has been particularly rushed for us this time in England; time was shorter with just a month here all together and it quickly became taken up with medical appointments for Amisadai as well as lots of appointments for teeth, eyes and jabs. Then there was the rush to sort out banking and insurance, find school uniforms and shoes, fix computer, sort phone, visa forms... the list goes on! But as we prepare to put all this and some difficult times behind us, I know how much we have to be thankful for!

Fun in the melted ice in Canada!

16 years later ... back to our honeymoon house!
Sandcastles at the seaside in Weston-Super-Mare!

Amisadai attempting to beat gold-winning Greg Rutherford in the long jump at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
First of all, I must start with how thankful we are that Amisadai is so well! It seems we will never really know what caused the respiratory attacks which started a year ago. But she is on medication for colitis and acid reflux and now feeling very healthy! There have been so many tests and appointments and inevitable waiting times, but it does finally look like she is good to go! She has just had the most amazing time at Soul Survivor Camp, and that along with the great times she has had at Taste Youth and with numerous friends in both countries over these months, we are so thankful for!

We are incredibly thankful to Tim's mum for having us stay with her all this time! She has looked after us so well these many months and given us so much. We truly don't know what we would have done without her! Many others in the UK and Canada have helped us out in different ways; being without our own car hasn't been easy and many have helped with lifts. Being without warm clothes and shoes also wasn't easy and many provided those! Being without much extra cash wasn't easy and many have given to us generously! So many friends have reached out in friendship, sharing meals and fun with us. It has been rather a strange and confused year, and in this we are so incredibly thankful for the many wonderful friends we have!

We have been able during our time away to share with many of you about what we are doing in Tanzania. It is always hugely encouraging, especially when things look a little muddled, to look back and see the good things God has done. And that was very true for our Open Days! God has done so much in these past few years, and the way He has used us despite our failings, weakness and uncertainty is such marvellous testimony to Him. It was overwhelming both in Langley and Tadley, to have so many friends with us at those occasions. We are very grateful for the love and support we receive and feel we have a great team behind us!

And so to our great support team ... thank you! We will try to get back into blogging (and be better with newsletters!) as we get back into things in Tanzania. We are excited about being back with much-missed friends there! I am looking forward to getting back with the Mamas group again! We are looking forward to the start of this training and planting season and to harvesting honey with our beekeepers! Amisadai is looking forward to being back at school after a long absence and Louisa is looking forward to starting secondary school. We are excited about this new season working with new teammates doing new things! And we will try to keep you posted on the adventures and challenges that all this entails!

If you would like to receive periodic newsletters or weekly email prayer updates, please email us (rachelmonger@gmail.com) or our link secretary, Ellen, (ellen@thebraithwaites.co.uk) to be added to the list! And if you would like to join in supporting us in any way financially, please drop an email to Ellen or Emmanuel International (UK).  And, please do stay in touch with us when we are away! We will miss you!

And so the blog begins again ... to be continued in Tanzania ...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Easter Celebrations in Kayenze

This year was the first time we as a family had celebrated Easter in two continents. Rachel and Amisadai were with Tadley Church in the UK and Louisa and I were in the village of Kayenze for Easter Sunday. Louisa and I had a fantastic Sunday!

We have been working with the church in Kayenze for nearly 3 years now,  helping them run conservation agriculture and beekeeping projects in the community, but this was the first time we’d had the privilege of being together for Easter. Easter, for Christians is the most significant Sunday of the year, as we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death and the new life, hope and peace he has brought. And what joy it was to share this day with our very enthusiastic brothers and sisters in Kayenze.

Kayenze Church gathers at the lakeside
Louisa and I arrived just before 9am, the official start time of the main service, but the Sunday School was still in full swing. Some had been there since 7am when they began with prayer! This church has come such a long way in the time we have been involved with them. 3 years ago there were often just 15 people present and now on Sunday it seemed close to 100 people. Easter Sunday was also the first occasion of trying out the new PA system which has been loaned to them. Thankfully, they haven’t worked out yet how loud the speakers go – a common experience here!

Kayenze Church
At 9:20am we began the service, PA in use but with surprisingly few squeals, but most importantly with voices together in heartfelt unison. I then stood to preach, and we looked at how the disciples had gone from wondering whether they should look for another job to discovering that they (and we also) have actually been given a new job… that of spreading to others the results of Jesus’ resurrection.

The resurrection is the dawning of a New Day of light and life
(painting by Anita Skinner)
After that and dedicating a couple of babies, you might think it was time for a cup of tea and hot cross bun, but instead we walked down to the Lake (just 80 metres away) so that 22 people could be baptised – 5 others had become Christians in the service. Louisa was in great demand, being pulled into the lake more than once, as many of the baptised wanted her in the pictures as part of their record of the day! I was wondering if we might need to come back in a couple of weeks and pray for healing from bilharzia!!
Baptism in Lake Victoria

Before we went for a soda and biscuits with the newly baptised, there was time – and in Tanzania there is always time – to make good use of the new speakers to dance and celebrate one last time!

As we left Kayenze, Louisa and I were grateful for the privilege of sharing Easter with these lovely and life-filled people – yes, we’d sincerely touched something of the joy of Easter.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The In-Between Time

I realised it has been a long (really long!) time since I have written on this blog. For the past few months, it has been a strange "in-between" sort of time of waiting. And so I keep waiting to post on the blog. Waiting for when we might have some actual news. Waiting for results. Waiting for when all my unsettled thoughts miraculously flow into interesting and meditative prose! But the moment doesn't come, so I'll carry on regardless.

Our family has now been living apart for 10 weeks which does feel like a very long time! Something is clearly not quite right with Amisadai and we wait to get to the bottom of it! She has had good days and bad days. Although she is good at putting on a brave face and carrying on, this week she has spent more time in bed in quite a lot of pain. On April 27th, she is going to Southampton Hospital for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy. We really pray that this will give us some (quick!) answers for the way forward. We realise that most likely we are unfortunately not going to be able to go home now for quite a while. Tim and Louisa will plan to join us as we hopefully go to Canada mid-June and then have some more time together here in the UK in August before returning to Tanzania.

But we are not twiddling our thumbs while waiting and Grandma has been looking after us very well! Amisadai has been working to keep up with schoolwork at home. I have been able to get on with admin-type things, research and think about more creative things and start a proposal for project funding. And we've been able to meet up with many friends, including a visit last week to Julian and Zoe's ...

Allecott Farm

We had a great time on the Willford's farm in Exmoor National Park. Amisadai did well health-wise most of the time and was thrilled with the opportunity to get involved with the lambing and spent most of her week in the lambing shed or pairing up ewes and lambs in the fields.

Amisadai after "pairing up" the sheep on the quad with Will

Delivering lambs
Meanwhile I had the opportunity to go with Julian to a good number of his beehives and learn how beekeeping is done in this country. No crazy bee tales this time! Julian and I went to the National Bee Convention where I was able to meet the guys from Bees Abroad who support Julian to come and help us with the beekeeping groups. It was great to network with various people throughout the day, see all that is "out there" and attend a workshop on top-bars!
Julian's Honey Shed

Out to the hives in the Land Rover

The finished product in stock on the local shelves!
We had an afternoon at Quince Honey Farm, where if you are in the area (South Molton, Devon), is well worth a visit to learn all about bees! There I enjoyed afternoon tea (a cup of Earl Grey with delicious Honeycomb on a Teacake) and we met Paddy and Ian, the beekeepers who run the centre and also support Bees Abroad.

On our final evening, we had a fantastic barbeque with Dave (who also came out to Tanzania to help with the beekeeping) and Mary and were introduced to their rather adorable donkeys!

All in all, it was just wonderful to have the time living and learning with Julian and Zoe. We enjoyed walks with the dogs on the hills and drives across the moors. I went to a crafting coffee morning with Zoe's friends as they spun their own wool and her friend, Bev helped me hugely with ideas for the mamas group soap-making (with help from her goats, she has made her own goats milk soaps).

If you would like to stay in this beautiful spot, check out their website here, as the Willfords run two lovely holiday cottages on the farm ... very appropriately named "Honey Cott" and "The Bees Knees."

Allercott Farm nestled in the hills in the centre of the photo
The Exmoor Ponies
I am writing this blog on Easter Saturday. The in-between day. The quiet day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday where nothing seems to happen. For Jesus' disciples, it must have seemed like such a long day. Afraid, tired, grieving. Waiting confused. They didn't realise a new day was dawning. Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, the third day which is actually the first day, is the day we have all been waiting for. Risen. Life. A New Beginning. This is the Hope we now have. Easter teaches us to be patient during the in-between times. Even when we wait in deep grieving, despair, confusion or simply frustration, we know that He is alive. That all our waiting will be over with the dawn on Sunday.

Happy Easter!