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

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Chickens, food and water!

Yesterday we had the exciting arrival of our chickens! We picked them up yesterday afternoon and are now the proud keepers of nine hens and a cock! The girls are making friends with them and deciding on their names, as given by their friends in England for their past birthdays!  

 We had a great day on Friday. As part of our language training, the four of us went for a day of cooking with other language students, learning how to cook Tanzanian food and learning the Swahili food and cooking vocabulary! We set off at 7:45am, picking up our teachers and live chickens on the way. 
Preparing vegetables, sorting rice

And then we had a busy morning preparing all the food. It is a very time-consuming task here, starting with preparing all the vegetables (outside, without the chopping boards or peelers that we are used to!) Then the chickens had to be slaughtered and plucked, I must admit that neither Tim or I actually took the knife. And then it was all gutting (ew!!) and chopping (nothing is wasted!) and boiling and frying. We hacked open the coconuts (much more pleasant), grated the fruit off and then squeezed all the goodness out for adding to our beans. We kneaded, rolled and fried mandazi (like donuts) and chapattis. We simmered spicy African chai. It was hot work and the flies were everywhere! But we had a feast by 1:30pm! It was well worth all the hard work and time! It was great fun and very good food, but I have to admit I'm not sure how much my Swahili improved!

Tim and our teacher cooking chapattis!


Chicken ready to pluck!

This week we have had trouble getting running water. We lost running water on Tuesday and so the following afternoon, rather than wait for the “water officials” to fix the problem, which was just up the road from us, Spedito and Mikdadi thought we could solve the problem much quicker ourselves. We all went to the Kihesa market where a new pipe section was bought. Then they went with their spades and dug up the problem, put the new piece on the pipe, wrapped things up with rubber and buried it all again! And lo and behold, we had running water again! We would never get away with doing this in the UK! We enjoyed the running water long enough to have a shower and refill our buckets. But the next morning (Thursday) the water stopped again! We had further water problems on Friday, which is a whole other story which involved the help of the Sharpes visiting friend, Howard, who happens to be a plumbing expert who looked incredulously into the whole state of affairs while Spedito got very wet!
Spedito and Mikdadi working on the pipe!
But we got our water again on Friday afternoon and now appreciate, very much more, our water supply and the great blessing it is to have running water. We were fine, as we had buckets on hand and could buy drinking water, but for so many people here it is a very different story. It is still hard (although a little easier now) to imagine travelling hours each day in the heat with a heavy bucket of water on my head. And seeing how quickly our garden suffered without water, and seeing the dryness of the land at the moment, we see firsthand the reality of the problem for so many people here, and are excited to be here and see the rainwater harvesting projects in action! In Uhambingeto they have almost finished the seventh and final rainwater tank for the secondary school, which means all the tanks will be finished in time to collect the first rain! And what a huge difference that makes for those teachers and children!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Bridegrooms, Punctures and Balancing Beans

We have just returned from a truly Tanzanian wedding! Today was the wedding of Bernard, our night watchman! It was a great experience, especially the reception with lots of noise, music and dancing! We danced up to the bride and groom in true African style with the giving of the gifts!

We arrived at the wedding an hour late, but still waited for another hour and half until the ceremony began! We really were late for the reception as we had a puncture in our land cruiser. We had a jack … but it didn’t work. So we got one from another vehicle, but that didn’t work either! It could have made a much more interesting story if we were stuck on a bumpy track in the bush in the middle of nowhere, but actually we were at home, having stopped in for a bite to eat! So Miriam came and rescued us; she lent us a jack and took us to the reception! So tomorrow we go and buy a new jack!

First attempt with jack #1

Playing with the dogs while we wait!
Yesterday, Tim and Spedito went to buy materials for the hen house and began work on that! The posts are in and the wooden door is made. We hope it will be finished by next weekend and we will go and find some chickens. We are hoping to get about ten.

TIm and Spedito fixing the posts
After planting all our seeds last weekend, we can already see many little shoots! It is exciting to watch! As with many things here, there is such great satisfaction in seemingly “small” things! And it does so often seem, when you stop to notice, that small things can make a big difference!

Now I am going to do some more Swahili homework! And plan some school lessons for the girls. We are about to start a science unit on electricity. We have just finished a unit on “Looking after our Bodies” which included a food group study which got the girls thinking about how we can balance our beans! Also this week we will start a math unit on measurement, so I think we can start by seeing how much chicken wire we will need for the run!

Finally, here is a clip from the gift giving at the reception!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Chicken Run

Tragedy struck the Monger chickens! On Friday, we had the tragic slaughter of all our chickens! Disease had spread and old age had set in and it all resulted in the unfortunate end of our chickens. Spedito did the deed for us, keenly watched by Louisa who was fascinated, but Amisadai had to go inside feeling rather faint! We remain undeterred and will be giving a thorough clean to our hen house, as well as a good extension, and then will purchase some young new chickens to keep us supplied with eggs!

Spedito with the first chicken!
After the mass execution, we were able to enjoy some time out in the garden yesterday planting seeds for crops of rhubarb, corn, carrots, cabbages, cucumbers, green beans (Louisa is happy!) and lettuces (the rabbits are happy!). Thanks, Karen Fincken for the seeds - the girls each have their own little plot to tend!

Spedito and the girls hard at work!
We enjoyed a picnic outing yesterday with the Wingfields and Sharpes and all their visiting family! We went exploring, GPS's in hand, looking for some ancient rock paintings we knew to be under a large overhanging boulder! After a failed first attempt (but great picnic spot!) we found the bamboo - the clue that led us to the climb to find the paintings!

We made it!

Look for the giraffe and the elephant!
Language school is continuing to keep us busy! I still find it a bit of a strain on my brain talking to Lucy, but we have fun! We have enjoyed cooking and baking together and have made "cakey-coco-a" and banana cake! We also made a pretty good lemon curd out of green lemons, coarse brown sugar and margarine! My attempt at making butter was not quite so successful!

I have tried out the old treadle sewing machine we have here! It is a bit tricky getting started as the direction suddenly reverses if you are not careful when the treadle goes back! But I treadled away and was very satisfied to make a curtain for our food pantry to keep out the sun and flies!

Amisadai has spent today in bed. It isn't malaria - we checked! But topped up with fluids and calpol today, we hope she will be back to normal tomorrow!
... now updating on Monday ... Amisadai is much better!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

How to cook rice on your head

This week, school for all of us included some fieldtrips! Our language studies have been going well, Tim racing ahead of me now going every day! I go a few afternoons a week when I have finished teaching the girls, but now that I have planned ahead more of the girls lessons, I am hoping to study the Swahili a bit more on my own. I made the mistake last week when someone asked me how I was, I said I was a banana! Our evenings are busy doing homework, study and lesson prep! This week we enjoyed the opportunity to visit some of the villages we are looking forward to working in ...

Visiting the Primary School at Uhambingeto
On Tuesday afternoon we all went with Andy to Uhambingeto. We visited a Secondary School where they are currently working to finish all seven rainwater harvesting tanks before the rains come in November. We also visited the Primary School, where the tanks have been completed. The children were very excited to see Amisadai and Louisa, who were rather overwhelmed at the excited mob of boys and girls who followed us around! We also saw the church that has fairly recently been built and met the pastor and his family. We finished the day at Elekana's house (who sends his greetings to Matt Dixon who trained him). Louisa was delighted to share his ugali (maize-meal)! It was really good to see all the work that is being done in this village to help the schools; before the tanks were built, the closest water was 10km away - a long way to walk or bike with a heavy load of water. They have also built and are still building latrine blocks with a tap for washing. And as part of this are teaching good hygiene practices to the children.

A rain-water tank nearing completion!

Ugali with Elekana!
 Tim and the girls also went to another village, Mafinga, on Wednesday (I had to stay home to go to language school!) They went with Andrew and Miriam who teach at Bethal Bible College, run by the Pentecostal Holiness Mission. They teach a practical unit on basic health and nutrition. The girls have been studying the basic food groups in Science and it was a great opportunity for them to share what they were learning with all the older students! (We had been doing a little energetic action routine to remember the food categories and they performed that!) Andrew and Miriam also demonstrated how to fuel-efficiently cook rice ... in pot of boiled water in a basket insulated with well-packed dry grass. Left for 45 minutes, the rice is cooked all on its own! If a person is caring for a relative in hospital, the prepared basket can be carried on her head, and will be cooked by the time she reaches the hospital!

Andrew demonstrating the rice cooking.

Also this week, we had the privilege of meeting the new Bishop of the Diocese of Ruaha and his wife, Lillian and their children. We shared a meal with them and Andy and Angela at the Wingfields' home last night. It was very good to meet them; we will be working closely with him with the projects we get involved in.  

Finally, thank you to all of you who have sent messages to us! We love to hear from you!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Campfires, hippos and fleas

We have just returned from a great weekend away at Masombo with about thirty adults and children from the Iringa Christian Fellowship – an English-speaking group! We all stayed at a lovely site managed by one of the families, beside a river just about 20km away from our house. I really enjoyed driving our beast of a land cruiser down the bumpy track to the river! I can finally drive it now that the clutch has been sorted out somewhat!  The gears do crunch terribly and it is often pretty hard to get into second gear, but it is great on these roads! With the river and lack of bridges, it is actually quicker to get to other nearby places near on foot, and I also had a go on the high swing-like zip-wire that has been rigged over the river for a quick crossing. It was great – just stopped short of the high bank on the other side which meant tugging on the rope to haul myself to solid ground!
Crossing the river!

The whole weekend was really good fun – and guaranteed sunshine! There were sessions of Bible teaching and worship for the adults and fun activities for the children. There was lots of time to chat, great meals together, games in the evening and some fun Scottish dancing! And campfires with marshmallows!! At night, we listened out for the hippo that roams the river there (there was evidence on him on the path next to our tent, but we didn’t hear or see him!) We did hear the bush babies chasing about though!
We arrived back home late this afternoon and are now getting ready for Swahili lessons and homeschooling this week! We had a bit of a panic when we got home and went to feed the rabbits. Amisadai left the hatch open and “Mouse” escaped, and ran off very quickly and was chased up and down the garden by four hungry dogs! Amidst the screams, Daddy came to the rescue and scooped up the rabbit and put her safely home! And if that wasn’t enough, a little later, the girls were cleaning out the tortoise box outside when the dogs suddenly ran over to the tortoises! This time, Mummy came to the rescue and got the dogs away while Louisa put the tortoises safely in the box!
Now to make a list for the market! Number one is to find something to deal with the fleas! The dogs, we have just discovered have fleas, and Louisa’s head very unfortunately was full of them! I am now itching all over with the thought of it! But now to finish on happier things, we shall also get some yummy pineapple, big, soft avocados and huge aubergines! How delicious is that?!
The view from our garden!
The girls exploring in our garden!