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

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Dad and Daughter Time: Island Community Work

Louisa and I (Tim) were up early last Friday morning and walked down to catch the daladala (local bus) so as to make the ferry to Ukerewe Island on time as foot passengers (we’ve learned our lesson not to take the car ... see here!). We had been looking forward to this time (Louisa had special permission from her teacher to miss a day of school) and part of the excitement is the ferry trip. We booked ourselves and Joel Newby into the top cabin, splashing out with the extra 2000tsh (72p) each. And so we were ready for 3+ hour ferry trip and only 20 minutes past the scheduled departure time, we were off.

We settled into our “deluxe” seats, and Louisa tucked into a second breakfast of sweet tea and chappatis. Once she was finished she went outside and Joel and I continued chatting. After a while it occurred to me I should check on Louisa. But where was she? Nowhere to be seen! Had she fallen over board? I went up to the Bridge and asked if they’d seen her. “Oh yes, she’s up top!” Eventually I spotted her, happily playing on the top level, having climbed past the no admittance sign...
We reached Ukerewe in good time and docked at Nansio. And we were ready for work. We had been invited some time ago by the churches there to help them with entrepreneurship in the community. Since then a couple of things had come together to make this possible. My Dad’s company, the Isle of Wight County Press, had kindly donated some money for this project in his memory. Secondly, we have been joined by our new missionary, Joel who has business training. So our purpose was to introduce Joel to the leaders there so he could make preparations with them to begin a project that could impact the local community.

On the Friday and Saturday we visited different parts of the Island to view possible sites for new businesses and we held meetings with church leaders, dealing with plans, goals and expectations, as well as hearing their thoughts on potential opportunities.
Louisa as scribe for Joel as leaders rate their strengths in different areas
Meeting Pastor Ibrahim and family at his church
Their initial ideas for businesses ranged from chicken, goat and pig-rearing (they already have a small goat project), to providing a village community with cheaper water, to operating a machine to mill rice and maize, to even running a ferry to a neighbouring smaller island. We’ll see how many of these Joel will be able to help get going!

And remembering World Water Day today, here are a number of photos taken as we looked at and thought about getting clean water to communities ...
Pastor Ibrahim's church have already dug a well

Potential site for a community water project

Louisa pulling hard to draw water from the church's well
On Sunday we were privileged to go to Nansio Revival Centre, joining the church for worship. Joel preached superbly on Lydia, the Godly Entrepreneur (Acts 16:12-15). They were so delighted to have some support, and are expectant that those living in difficult circumstances can be helped to start businesses which also will in turn bless their local communities. 

As Louisa assessed the weekend, "it was a lot of fun!" I think part of the fun for her was being able to use different forms of transport across the island, but don’t tell her mum!

There’s a long way to go for this project – please pray for Joel as he makes another visit shortly and continues to make preparations – but as Louisa and I walked back up the hill to our home, with our shoulders aching from carrying our backpacks, we were very thankful for a productive and enjoyable trip!
Fish and chips!

Time to relax!

Monday, 27 February 2017

From the UK Half

Apologies! The blog has recently been seriously neglected!

Rachel and Amisadai are now in the UK while Tim and Louisa have stayed in Tanzania. Amisadai is undergoing tests and seeing doctors to try and get to the bottom of what has been going on with her health. We have been here two weeks now but many blood test tubes later, don't have a whole lot to report yet! After a rather difficult journey, Amisadai is actually doing much better now we are here ... which is good, but a little unhelpful and confusing! We are making the most of special time with Grandma and have enjoyed seeing cousins and friends. It feels extremely cold here, but we are very grateful for warm clothes and shoes lent to us by kind friends for our time here! In between appointments (medical and social!) Amisadai is working to keep up with schoolwork assignments!
In Doha Airport: Not so good

At Grandma's with Roast Beef Dinner: much better!
It was very special timing to arrive in time for my Grandad's funeral. He passed away, sadly just a few days before we arrived. Last week, it was really wonderful to have the unexpected time with my parents who came over from Canada, and then on Thursday with all the extended family at the funeral. It was a really special day, honouring a wonderful man who has left us such a rich legacy of faith, love and prayer.
Wonderful memories of fun with Grandma and Grandad!
Meanwhile Tim and Louisa are doing a grand job of looking after each other! The first week was half term and wonderful friends made it a very fun time for Louisa! Last week it was "back to school" and Tim had a busy week of teaching at the college. They were in Kayenze on Sunday where Tim was preaching on Romans 8 and are thankful and happy to report that it has been raining! Farmers have now been planting both in Kayenze and Sengerema so please join us in praying for the germination and growth of these seeds, for good rains and a fruitful harvest to come.

Before coming to England, I was at the ECHO Agricultural Symposium in Arusha with Peter and also our Iringa colleagues, Andre and Jesca. At the time, it was hard being away that week with so much going on as travel plans were being arranged for Amisadai, who that same week also went down with malaria, and then with my Grandad weakening and passing away. It seemed hard to focus on pigeon peas and weeds at the time. But ECHO is a fantastic organization and in hindsight, it was a great time with other people doing similar agricultural work to us. It was great to have all we are doing reinforced and encouraged as well as good to learn new things and feed thoughts and ideas for future work.

It was exciting to pick up on the buzz about pigeon peas this year!
We are already pigeon pea enthusiasts! I could write a whole blog post on them ...

The medicinal garden at ECHO inspired me to persevere with this in Mwanza!

I came back with Chaya cuttings, excited about working with our farmers with this "spinach tree!"
It has been rated Number 4 in the top leafy plants for protein and I could write
another whole post about its benefits and uses!
We learned all about this aggressive and terribly damaging weed,
Parthenium hysterophorus. Watch out for this wicked one!
As I close this post, I must say how incredibly grateful we are for wonderfully loving and supporting friends everywhere! So many with Tim and Louisa in Tanzania. So many here in the UK with Amisadai and myself. And many others encouraging and supporting us from other places! Thank you all!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Amisadai Evacuated Again!

Life has continued in its normal irregular fashion and I'll a give a few updates in a moment. But it has been strangely hard to focus properly with Amisadai's health problems. She has continued to have these strange episodes, with dizziness and pain and occasional blacking out. She is up and down with it, but it's been a bit of a worry! So to cut a long story short, she is being flown back to the UK for tests which we hope will be conclusive and find a way to bring her back to normal.

The tentative plan after talking with the insurance company and medical team yesterday is that Amisadai will fly back with Rachel on Sunday (12th) and stay with Tim's mum in Basingstoke while we sort things out. Tim and Louisa will remain here in Mwanza, Tim carrying on with work here and Louisa at school, which seems the best plan as we have no idea how long Amisadai will have to remain in the UK.

It hasn't been easy knowing what to do. I (Rachel) have been long booked into a Agriculture Conference (ECHO) in Arusha, so the plan is that I will still go to that tomorrow, staying until Saturday. Tim will stay close to home work-wise and we hope Amisadai will be able to finish this week at school before half term. But we take things a day at a time ... she has been in bed again today while Tim took Louisa to the Nyamililio Church near Sengerema. (After Tim had preached and Pastor Tito had preached on Psalm 67, they had another look at the a-maize-ing crop at the church before having lunch at Sharach's house. The picture below doesn't do it justice but the cob Louisa is holding is enormous! They have just returned home after their ferry bumped into another one when docking! It took awhile to get going again, but all's well that ends well!)
Healthy crop of maize
So, friends in the south of England ... we look forward to the possibility of seeing some of you! Everything is very uncertain, but we value your friendship, prayers and support! It will also be lovely if we are in time to visit my Grandad when we get back. He has gone into hospital this week and is very poorly with probably not much longer to live.

Despite the disruption and uncertainty, we are all thankful and relieved that things are moving in the right direction!

Meanwhile, in regular life...

Fantastic Fabrics!

The Mamas Group met again yesterday and Louisa joined us as well for another day of making some amazing fabric! They are fantastic! I was feeling slightly stressed yesterday, and was struggling a little to stay cool with rather chaotic activity involving rather a lot of splashy dye! With mistakes made, too many people with hands in, bundled fabric was dropped in the dye. But at the end of the day, I took a deep breath and realised everything actually came out vibrant and good in the end! It was sad to say goodbye for an undetermined time, but as they prayed at the end for Amisadai, it was precious to know their love and care for us.

Louisa enjoys learning how it's done!

Samantha works with Mama Wilson folding the fabric

What would you do or love to have made with one of these?

Permits and Photos!

As is often the way here, a fair amount of time goes into bureaucratic matters. It has been the season of forms and filling out, and chasing documents as we sort out different work and residency permits. Then with new Canadian regulations, the girls (as dual citizens), are no longer allowed to enter Canada on their British passports so they need Canadian passports. And then Tim and Louisa's British passports expire in a few months, so we need to apply for new ones for them too...

The funny thing is what a palava getting passport photos has been! The different application forms want different sized photos with unique specifications. The poor photo shop in town has been struggling to cope with our family photo requirements. They don't have a computerised system for printing photos to varying specifications. We are talking here about a guy with a camera who hangs a dirty white sheet behind you in the doorway of the shop and shoots. Then with the ruler I lent them, their own pair of scissors and my diagrams of size and proportion, it was trial and error to get what we need. It took several tries and a fair bit of time over three trips (it was closed once)! And now we have piles of little photos of varying sizes of our heads!

Working with the Bishops

We had a really positive and also pretty important meeting on Thursday with the new Bishops and their assistants. Also with Joel and Samantha, Bishop Charles and Pastor Zakayo, it was an excellent time of sharing about our work in community development through the church and how we can best work together.
Zakayo sharing at the meeting

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Newbys Join the Team!

We are really excited to see our team growing! And I want to introduce you here to our new co-workers/friends!
Hephzibah, Joel and Samantha in the States for Christmas!

Joel and Samantha Newby with their gorgeous little girl, Hephzibah, have just returned from visiting the United States where they have been busy meeting family and friends and raising the support they need to live and work here. Now, as they come to the end of securing work and residence permits for Joel, they will be starting to work with us here!

Joel (from Montana, US) and Samantha (from Mwanza) were married last May and live here in Mwanza. Joel has been living here since 2013, working with a church involved in rural development. With his education in business administration, Joel is going to be a huge asset in our work with the churches, as one of his roles will be offering training and help with entrepreneurship projects for social transformation. We are looking forward to what he may do with chickens and goats!
Samantha, trained as a clinical assistant, has been a full-time single mom to Hephzibah for the past five years. She has already been along to the Upendo wa Mama group a few times and is looking forward to helping more with these women! She came along today and was an invaluable help figuring out application forms for the upcoming sewing training! The women have warmly welcomed her into the group and with all her creativity and skill, she will be a wonderful person to have around! Both Joel and Samantha have a heart for strengthening the church in discipling children and have started a children's church program for kids ages 4-10.
We are thrilled that we have joined together with them and look forward to all that they will add to the work with the church here in Mwanza! And even more exciting ... they are multiplying the team themselves - very soon a new little Newby will be arriving! All very exciting!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

When 20% isn't Failure

It was Friday last week and Tim had planned to go to Nyamililo, the new village near Sengerema where Esther has been working hard to start the new agricultural group. He was going with Baraka and Peter but as is often the way, things didn't go exactly to plan as Peter missed the boat! There was confusion at the ferry as Baraka and Tim looked for Peter. After some searching, they made phone contact and knew he was around somewhere. As the boat was bellowing its final call to board, assuming that Peter must have boarded the boat, they hopped on and sailed away. But he wasn't. Peter was caught up helping someone and as Tim later found out, he had ended up going to the police station with the person he was helping. Never a dull moment!

Talk of the Drought

Talking to people as the drought continues, many can't remember a year worse than this one. They have never known the price of maize (used to make ugali, the staple food here) to be as high as it is now. The people we are working with are all subsistence farmers; they eat what they grow, surviving from their own shamba (piece of land).

The maize crops, ideally planted early in October are harvested in January. This season is now over and there is very little, if anything in places, to show for it. But as we said in a recent post, it is wonderful to see the positive difference for farmers who have adopted the practices we are teaching! And even more to see the interest of other farmers in the community who see that difference in this drought and are keen to join in!

When 20% isn't Failure!

Tim and Baraka met on Friday with seven of the fifteen farmers who formed the first Conservation Agriculture (CA) group with us in this area. Only three of these fifteen farmers have been successful ... which in percentage terms may sound like failure! But as we know from experience, the first year teaching something new and different is always tough. People are wary and not keen to commit their efforts. Most didn't give the CA techniques a fair test as they did things the way they were used to or first planted their regular crops in the usual way and delayed working on the CA section. One lady in the group, had prepared really well but then travelled and asked her relatives to finish the planting. All that hard work was wasted as the relatives planted in the usual way!

Baraka (L) with five farmers from the group
But when people see and experience something firsthand ... then things can start to change! And so having these three farmers is reason enough to be thankful! And we now have some good community trainers who will be far better teachers than us!
Pastor Tito of Nyamililo welcomed the group members and after reading and discussing together Psalm 67, they began to talk about how things were going. The first two farmers (whose maize had died out), were unhappy and didn't see the project working. Three others farmers joined the conversation. They had also lost their crops, but they realised that they had made mistakes and were keen to try again and follow through on what they had learned. They were grateful. Lastly, the two farmers who had been successful (the other, Anna, was unable to be at the meeting) shared. Pastor Tito and Shadrach expressed their great gratitude, particularly for all Esther's work. Pastor Tito who has used the church land as a demonstration plot shared how people were coming to see the field, just amazed at its success in this season of drought. Many were coming to the church asking questions. This is amazing progress before a year is done!


The group went outside to look at the work Pastor Tito had done at the church shamba. The maize planted early on intercropped with beans was doing really well! It was clearly better than the area planted later which missed that essential early rain.

Pastor Tito with his maize

These jack beans were planted too late to do their job.

Poor Pigeon Peas Prove Popular

The pigeon peas are now a big hit with these farmers! We laugh about the pigeon peas. No one ever wants to plant them; everyone says they don't like to eat them. The fact is, they are just "different" and no one wants to try. Even Joseph, our guard, for the longest time said he couldn't eat pigeon peas for his lunch; he didn't like them at all. Finally one day, I just gave him some and said it was that or nothing ... much like I can say to our girls! Well, he ate them and really enjoyed them and later admitted he had never actually tried them. And we find it is similar for the farmers who are not keen to plant them at all! But pigeon peas are so easy to grow and good for the soil. They are drought-resistant, providing a nutritious and extremely long-lasting plentiful harvest! Now having tried them, the farmers are already planning their plots for more pigeon peas!
Pigeon peas doing well at the church shamba!

Shadrach's 'Spot the Difference' Shamba

The group moved on to look at Shadrach's shamba. It is not as strong as Pastor Tito's (or his own other shamba farther away) but he will be able to harvest. The group was able to clearly see and discuss the comparison between the section on the left farmed normally and the area on the right farmed at the same time with the same seeds using the CA method.
Shadrach's shamba. Healthy green maize on the CA right side!
So while a 20% success rate may at first seem more like failure, we are all encouraged! Pastor Tito is a good teacher! It is fantastic to see people coming to the church with questions and to see the church reaching out to their community with help and answers in this time of need. Tito is now preparing his next sermon for the church on Psalm 67. As they experience God's gracious blessing, their prayer is that He may be known in their community, that people would thank and enjoy Him!

God, mark us with grace and blessing! Smile!
The whole country will see how you work.
Psalm 67 (MSG)