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

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A Belated Happy Christmas!

We hope you have enjoyed a happy Christmas wherever you are! We have had a lovely Christmas here! Matt, Amy, Elia and Finley arrived two days before Christmas it was so lovely having them to stay over the holiday. We had roast Maisy for Christmas Eve lunch, with some other friends as well. And then went over to Andy and Angela's in the evening for games and nibbles (yes, we even had mince pies, sausage rolls, butter tarts and Nanimo bars!)

Marc demonstrating how to play his new Tanzanian "cello"!

Christmas Day was fun blur of eating, opening pressies, eating, chatting, eating ... We had Christmas crackers and Christmas whistles conducted expertly by Amy. The roast duck was delicious and we enjoyed all the familiar treats of stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, Christmas pudding and even bacon and sausage!

We are so thankful for all the lovely things people have sent out to us! So many special treats sent out and saved and all so much appreciated and enjoyed! Thank you so much!

Christmas Day Lunch


Christmas Tea with Elia and Finley
Christmas evening bedtime story with Andy

This blog although written just after Christmas was never published due to internet difficulties! But here it is now, just a little out of date! We are now back from our holiday at Lake Nyasa, but that is all another story, so our new year's news will follow shortly!

 
 

 CHRISTMAS TREATS!

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Other Side of Christmas

We knew we were not in England in the week before Christmas when we found ourselves driving along with a timing belt warning light flashing at us, having had a puncture in the very pouring rain, and putting the spare tire on to find it was flat. We managed to find a bicycle pump and gave it some air, which I don’t think any of us really thought would get us home! We phoned Andy in town before we drove through the Reserve (where there isn’t a phone signal) to say that if we weren’t home before 4pm to send out a search party! Amisadai in particular, just slightly nervous at the thought of a dark night in there … Mama Masawa had given us plenty of interesting stories of fierce animals as we drove through last time, which now seemed more scary than interesting! And we only had 3 slices of banana bread and two bottles of water as rations. But even despite a broken bridge which we couldn’t get across, we found another way and made it home in time for tea!
We had a good time in Magozi. It is still very uncomfortably hot there, although they have had a little rain there now too, and so there are grassy patches appearing. Everyone is getting ready to plant in their shambas (farming land) with mahindi (corn) going in now and soon it will be time to plant the rice. One problem this time was the water which was so bad, we couldn’t even treat and filter it to drink. We used it for washing – easier if you didn’t look at it! Thankfully we had filtered a lot of water before we left last time and also brought some bottles from home.
Would you drink this? (we didn't!)


Would you wash your face and dishes in this? (we did!)
Seriously, this is fresh from the water point.
Our reason for going this time was to support the church in their evangelistic outreach to the village. We paid for fuel for a generator and they were all excited to have some loud music and microphones! There was some great dancing too! Tim did really well with his Swahili preaching, and others spoke as well. I just went completely blank when they asked me to pray the closing prayer on Friday! It was good to see people so excited having a good time and hearing the Word of God. As usual we never really quite knew what was happening … we had been invited out for lunch but at the last minute found out that we couldn’t go. Then a a couple we had met at a Bible College a few months ago arrived from a neighbouring village. They needed a meal, so we ended up hosting instead! You have to realize, it isn’t as easy here when you can’t just pop to a shop to quickly get something. Neither can you quickly get something out of the freezer or put something in the microwave! But God always knows what is around the corner, even if we don’t! And in lickity-split time (well, almost!), dizzy with bending over the hot jiko in the midday sun and absolutely dripping with sweat, I had lunch on the table! We had also been invited out for dinner. But fifteen minutes before we left, as I emerged from my douse with a bucket of water, we found out that wasn’t happening either. So it was half a loaf of banana bread from Iringa for dinner. (What would we do without banana bread?)
Tim preaching in Magozi
The day before we went to Magozi, we had the EI staff Christmas party, which Angela and I were both rather nervous about, feeling very out of control! But Mama Kiri did a great job with all the cooking and we had enough food for everyone and fun was had by all, despite the untimely downpour! We were even able to skype Andrew and Miriam in the UK and so they were part of it all too.

Trying to cook in the rains!

But the sun came out later!
After all the recent activities and comings and goings, I am so excited about this week before Christmas, I have no unpacking or packing to do and we have no school to do! I must say that in Magozi this time I felt rather selfish in my eagerness to get back and enjoy some indulgently relaxing time. We have borrowed some DVD’s and books and I am very excited about some free evenings ahead! I know it is important to rest and know very well that this time more than most is a time to celebrate and enjoy all God’s goodness, but when you are living in a village like Magozi and surrounded by people who really have nothing materially, it makes you look at Christmas differently. Maybe remembering that first Christmas when God came to lift up the humble. We visited a newborn baby this week, lying wrapped in khangas on the dirt floor of a mud hut. Her name is Lightness and she is the daughter of the stoves group secretary, Ezekiel; there is real Christmas joy! And so knowing that for these friends, Christmas will not be much more than ordinary day (although there is to be eating and dancing together after the church service!), it does feel selfish looking forward to the treats we are baking and wrapping up here. This is certainly the other side of Christmas.
Baby Lightness

Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas Light

I love this time of year! The weekly Four Sundays of Advent, the daily advent countdown from December 1st and all the fun and reflection that goes with it. We are loving a daily advent calandar on our computer, sent from Laurena in Canada. Every day we find a new bit of the scene of London and enjoy the animated clip of the day! The girls love remembering the sights of London! We are enjoying all of our advent fun here in Tanzania. We have a perfect ending to our school unit on Light and Shadow as we talk about waiting in darkness for the great light! We have been looking at different religions and what a significant part "light" is to so many. We celebrated Hanukkah last week, something I realised I actually knew very little about! The girls are going to blog about that one soon, so I'll say no more! And now we can celebrate the coming of the Light to the world; a great climax for us as Christians!
Practicing carols for Advent
This week we have enjoyed a few days away with Andy and Angela, officially an EI retreat. It was a really good time of thinking about the future of our work here, and how we go about our work. We read and discussed a great book "Head, Heart, Hands: Bringing together Christian thought, passion and action" by Dennis Hollinger. It was fun being together and we enjoyed some relaxed time and some good food!
 
Wow! Steak!
 
And now, since our return, a large treetop brought in from the garden is decked with Christmas lights, in the form of the most pathetic fairy lights ever! These I found in town ... for a price ... and will be very surprised if they last until December 25th! Even Amisadai told me to quickly turn them off and save them for Christmas Day! But we also have beautiful candles made by the Consolata Sisters in the form of an Advent Candle (lines drawn on!) and an Advent Wreath.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
One of our verses at school has been Gen. 1:14-20 about God creating the lights in the sky. It is interesting as we decorate the house (thank you, Heather!) to think about God creating the world, decorating the world, hanging up the great lights in the sky. I have been reading Jane Williams' book, "Approaching Christmas" which reflects creatively on this thought. She includes a quote from John Donne which has added a rich perspective to our work on light and shadow, eclipses (of which there is one today!) and sun patterns, and the truth of the Light celebrated through Advent. I will finish with it here.

He [God] brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light. He can bring thy summer out of winter though thou hast no spring. Though in the ways of fortune, or misunderstanding, or conscience, thou hast been benighted till now, wintred and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damp and benumbed, smothered and stupified till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of spring, but as the sun at noon, to banish all shadows; as the sheaves in harvest to fill all penuries. All occasions invite His mercies and all times are His seasons. ... 'God is thy portion,' says David. David does not speak so narrowly, so penuriously as to say God has given thee thy portion, and thou must look for no more. But 'God is thy portion' and as long as He is God, He hath more to give and thou art His, thou hast more to recieve.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Friends, Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas All in One

On Sunday we managed to squeeze lots of festivities into one day! We met with the Pentecostal Church in the morning (where Tim was preaching), then celebrated the first Sunday of Advent at home with a little service the girls prepared and finished the day celebrating American Thanksgiving! A little out of order, but nobody minded! We had Marc, a potter from the States, currently working at Neema Crafts, for dinner, which aside from the puny little chicken posing as a turkey, was fairly traditional! We even had cranberry sauce! I looked all over the market for pumpkins with no success, but we splashed out on apples and with a real North American apple pie, no one was complaining. Andy and Angela joined us for coffee and apple pie and the girls excitedly presented their shadow play “The Story of Kuang-li” which you should soon be able to watch from their blog! All the festive activity was thrown together rather quickly and a lot of fun in our brief two-days at home!
Enjoying some apple pie!
Early Monday morning we took the bus to Morogoro, to visit our good friends Matt and Amy Dixon who have just moved there from the UK. We arrived in time for a late lunch at Ricky’s, where they treated us to burgers! It was wonderful to see them again and meet little Finley for the first time! The girls thoroughly enjoyed playing with Elia, now almost three years old. It has been a rough start for Matt and Amy with one thing and another, but we are so glad they are in the country and excited about having them here with us in Iringa for Christmas! We commiserated over car problems and water problems among other things, enjoyed bacon butties and chats among other things, and then had to be back to the bus station for 12:30pm the next day.
Playing with Elia and all the babies
We got home at 6:30pm and then another quick turn-around for Tim who quickly unpacked and packed ready to go to Magozi at 7am yesterday morning. He gets back later today, but the girls and I have stayed here to sort some of the chaos of the past week and do some schoolwork! In all the excitement, we seem to have run low on all kinds of things such as food obviously, but also pig food, drinking water, electricity, phone credit … and we haven’t had time to go to the post office, where we hear there are five parcels waiting!
Later ...
Well after all recent niggling frustrations with things like the kettle breaking, the puppy chewing my new boots and pajamas, continuing failed efforts at the electricity company to top up our supply, failed attempts at getting internet, failure to get through the dishes and laundry (we are really missing Mama Lucy who has been sick!) we had the most wonderful failure just now! Failure to carry all the packages out of the post office!! The girls and I had been trailing around town, hot and tired with not much going as planned, when we had the most amazing, exciting visit to the post office ever! We knew we had five packages waiting for us and were already very excited about getting them! But to our amazement, we had a post box full of green slips (each green slip means a parcel is ready to be picked up) - TEN! The staff at the post office found the girls' uncontainable excitement very amusing as we waited for ages to get all the parcels brought and signed for. We signed for ten parcels and they all started coming, but further to our surprise, when we counted there were TWELVE! The woman made sure we signed all ten out, checked my ID and checked orally that I knew my name several times, and then a little confused with the extra two parcels, just handed those over as well! The girls were quite beside themselves and now can't wait for Daddy to get home and show him the pile of brown paper packages tied up with string! Talk about favourite things! Then curiousity will only grow as they wait till Christmas Day! We don't know who you are yet, but thank you so, so very, very much those of you who sent parcels! I wish you could be with us to share in the great excitement! I'll stop now as I'm getting all teary-eyed! Lots of love from all of us!
Christmas comes to Iringa!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Entertaining in Style

It has been one of those weeks with moments where I can’t quite believe what I am doing! When expecting guests, I used to plan the menus, go shopping for some food treats, spruce up a guest room and generally try to make things as pleasant as possible! Now here I was, escorting our guest in a bumping, dirty, dusty old land cruiser to a house even more dusty and dirty with not much beyond beans and rice for food (apart from the lemon cake and banana loaf which was a nice treat while it lasted!) When we arrived and she was “shown to her room,” I quickly started sweeping up rat poo, dead cockroaches and heaps of dust and dirt. Then began the mouse chase, after seeing one dart behind a shelf … another visitor had arrived by this time and while Amisadai and Louisa ended up standing on the furniture, she ended up being the one to spear the creature with a long sharp stick! Disposing of the thing with my dustpan, the thought crossing my mind is that of pretty, scented soaps and soft creams laid out on a pristine bathroom counter and a vase of flowers on a dressing table. But we have no bathroom, let alone bathroom counter and no dressing table even if we could find a flower! Actually the smell is sweat rather than soaps and flowers, and we can’t even offer a fan for some relief from the brutally uncomfortable heat! But Mama Masawa was lovely and settled in with our family, fitting right in!
Mama Masawa is a Tanzanian who works for the Diocese of Ruaha. She came to Magozi with us to teach the stoves group on business and marketing and also work with a group of people on improving reading skills. She was such an encouragement to the stoves group, inspiring them to work hard and be proactive in selling. We also presented the snazzy red Magozi Jiko T-shirts, which were a great hit! Now you can easily spot a group member in the village! The plan had been to come for four days of teaching, but unfortunately she was called back to town and so managed to squeeze four sessions into one short and one very long day! In the afternoons she worked on the reading. We had expected a small group of women, but it turned out to be a large group of men and women, all very keen and eager to learn or improve reading skills! We sat in a circle, taking turns to read out loud; I saw the marked difference between listening to the adults struggle to read and the children that have gathered at our house to read so much more fluently. The children now have an opportunity of an education that many of the adults have not had. We realized that this was a much bigger thing than we had originally thought, and this time with Mama Masawa just the beginning. The group was so eager to learn and the potential is amazing! We would love to do what we can to facilitate some reading groups for learning and improving. The ability to read – a free gift, but priceless!

Presenting the T-shirts
  
Reading Session (the group grew!)
It was a busy and tiring but very good week. The girls kept up with schoolwork, we kept up with meals (with only one struggle to keep the fire alight!), we kept up with drinking water and we kept up with the rodent kills! It often seemed bizarre (particularly at moments like going to bed one night wondering where the third scorpion had gone) that being in Magozi could be so good! But it was so amazing to see people so enthusiastic and eager to learn and improve, sitting for hours on uncomfortable planks through the heat of the day to do so! It was so encouraging to see the quality of the stove-making improve. It was great to have a late visit last night from Ezekiel, the group secretary, who came to ask for some flipchart paper and a marker pen so as to draw up some advertising posters to put up at the roadside, pointing to the jikos for sale in the village. He got busy right then and there in our little house with the small solar light! And then we were able to bring another lady back to town with us to get glasses, how wonderful to now see Mama Margaret able to read!  

Mama Margaret
As we had no meetings in Magozi today, we were able to come back early this morning, which was great for the girls as they were delighted to get back in time for their friend, Abeni’s birthday party! They then went to bed at 6pm! We are hoping to find a pumpkin in the market tomorrow and celebrate American Thanksgiving with a pie on Sunday evening (as we missed Canadian Thanksgiving this year!)  And then on Monday we are looking forward to getting the bus to Morogoro to visit Matt and Amy Dixon!
 
The first scorpion
(they got bigger!)




Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ukwega and Back

Driving back this afternoon from Ukwega, a small village next to Magozi, I thought wistfully about 176th Street in Langley, Canada - I miss that road! It's long and straight with no potholes and you can drink a coffee driving along it (not that I particularly wanted the coffee at that point ... but to divert along the coffee thought, our recent tragedy with the cafetiere has been heroically rescued by the Belleguelles in the UK who in no time at all have seen to it that a new cafetiere is on its way to Africa! Asante sana!) Driving along, I also thought how strange it would seem in the UK to be taking your clothes off in the car driving to or from a church meeting as Louisa did today feeling excessively hot!
 

The Ukwega Church after shaking hands
at the end of the service
  Today we went to meet with a small, very new church in Ukwega, recently started by Yuda who is also the chairman of the Ebenezer Stoves Group. About 15 adults and surely twice as many children come together in a small, carefully made shelter of sticks and straw. Inside they have embedded poles in the ground with a V to support horizontal poles to perch on; village style "pews" on which with a sleepy Louisa on my lap, perching is no easy task! They warmly welcomed and received us; Yuda was able to talk about the stoves project, with the help of the girls who were wearing the new and snazzy group T-shirts and sang the Jiko Jingle! Tim preached and they were all very encouraging about his Swahili! And following the service (yes, very glad to stand up!) we shared a meal with Stephano and Vicki, elders of the church who live in the village. They are an amazing couple with great initiative and energy. They have set up a "cafe" in the village serving chai and rice and also established a small shop which they stock every month by going on the bus to Iringa. They are now talking about building a church building.

Yuda and Tim process to the front at the start of the service.
Yuda talks about the project with the girls in the new T-shirts!
This week in Magozi, the kiln was fixed and the second batch of stoves was fired! All 70 stoves have been "spoken for" so production really does need to pick up as with the whole batch effectively sold, there are none left to sell at the market! We are also still having some problems with the clay cracking, so really trying to solve this one!

We are all going back to Magozi on Tuesday, taking with us Mama Masawa who will be staying with us to teach until Friday on business & marketing and to work with women on improving reading skills. We will also be presenting the new T-shirts which will be hugely exciting! It will be a busy week being "hostess" to Mama and teacher to the girls, and trying to attend as many of the reading classes as possible too! The plan for girls is to learn about the light of the sun as we make sundials, but to be honest, I rather wish the sun might go behind the clouds a bit more this week!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Events and Unevents

This week, I actually think I can take on the challenge from my sister to write a whole blog update without mentioning animals dead or alive or on the plate, or sickness from either end! My week has been rather more uneventful than usual! But Tim has been part of a huge event! He has been in Dar-es-Salaam for much of the week. He and Andy both got there and back safely on the bus. Tim was booked home on a bus yesterday which didn't exist, but it was sorted out in the end! While in Dar, Tim was able to pick up some awesome T-shirts for the Ebenezer Stoves Group (they will be so excited to get them - I can't wait!). He was able to meet up with good friends Matt and Amy Dixon and their two little ones. We are very excited that they will soon be just a 5 hour drive away! Tim and Andy also went to look at vehicles for EI and put a bid in on one. Unfortunately, we heard yesterday that we lost the bid. And Tim went to the Campus Night, a huge three-night event for university students hosted by Victory Christian Centre (Pastor Huruma's Church). It was an inspirational time for thousands of students from across East Africa with a varied programme of music and speakers, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs as guest of honour. One speaker, Dr Charles Sokile (a Tanzanian), works for the UK Government, Department for International Development, as an advisor on how to help Tanzania come of out poverty. So the students could see how they can make a difference for their nation.



While Tim was away, the girls and I marked the events of Tanzania's 50 years of independence and then this weekend, Remembrance Day. But you can read all about that on the girls' blog! I was looking forward to making the most of a solid, uninterupted week in town for some schoolwork ... exploring light and shadows and quest myths and legends. We did well, but I can't say it was completely uninterrupted! We also enjoyed some company while Tim was away, with Angela and Inkeri (who is lodging with the Sharpes) over for dinner and a big girls' movie on Wednesday evening (I can't say what we had for dinner, or I fail the challenge), and Laura over for dinner and a little girls' movie on Friday evening!

Now we are all enjoying a quiet and uneventful Sunday afternoon!

Friday, 4 November 2011

A Fish out of Water

I'm feeling like a fish out of water and wondering what the other idioms I am looking for are! Not quite a bull in a china shop, but maybe almost! And maybe a blind dog in a meat market - I just looked that one up! I love living here in Tanzania, I really do, but sometimes from time to time I just feel so completely alien, completely unable to communicate, completely confused and completely exhausted trying! This week was such a time! But reflection and perspective is always a good thing and I can see (admittedly, later than I would like!) that it isn't always in the "doing" but often just in the "being" that makes the difference and a quick look around me quickly puts my own little problems in perspective!

But as you are reading this to find out what we've been up to this week, I'll fill you in! We left for Magozi very early on Tuesday morning to be in time for the start of the stoves groups meeting at 8:30am. By 9:30am I was hotter beyond belief, already tired and wondering how we would survive the day! It was a tough three days for various reasons. But it was hot; mid 40's in the shade and it really just made everything hot - the candle was melting, the spoons were hot to pick up, the drinking water was frankly disgusting! Louisa came in for supper one evening extremely hot and bothered, sweat running rivers all down her. Before we could blink, she had stripped off her clothes and sat down for tea. Amisadai quick as a flash, followed suit (no pun intended!) and to be honest, I wished I could have done the same! There just was one moment of brief relief from the intensity of the heat - a fizzy drink! Then the buzz wore off and we wilted and dripped again. Under the tin roof was like a sauna, outside the ground seemed to burn through our sandals. I think you get the idea! But the group times went really well. Tim worked hard to reinforce good techniques in making the stoves to try and raise the standard. They also experimented with a mix of new clay, working on preventing cracking. We were hoping to fire this week, but the kiln didn't get fixed, so hopefully next week. We have another 60 stoves ready to fire which is good. We had lunch with Mama Kalista on Tuesday, and she is so delighted with her jiko - talking of how she can cook outside even in the wind, how it cooks well and quickly and uses less wood. Encouraging to hear!

Abdara finishing a jiko
The girls and I did schoolwork on the Wednesday; the project was appropriate, measuring shadows and observing the pattern of the sun! I tried to go out and visit with the other women, but for some reason this time really struggled. One drawback was the heat - even walking three minutes was hard. But cultural differences and communication problems seemed to bother me more than usual and I just felt so out of place. I was tired of being told I didn't have enough children, of everyone discussing my ability to conceive and medicines for contraception. I was tired of everyone always touching me and discussing what was wrong with my skin having moles and freckles, even the annoying zit on my chin! I was tired of not understanding what was going on around me, of people laughing (not unkindly) at me and I didn't know why.

Then it was time to come back to Iringa. We brought back with us Mama Meriziana, (from the stoves group) to get her some glasses in town. We had seen her struggling to read her Bible. Then another lady (to whom we had previously mentioned was welcome to come and stay in town sometime) asked if she could come for a pumziko ("break"). We agreed it was fine; she was happy to share a room. So after lunch, we were all piling into the land cruiser and as Mama got in the front, her two girls climbed in the back! There was some confusion for a while, but in the end they were not getting out as they didn't want Mama to leave them. They were coming too! Now I am thinking about the situation when we get home - not much food in the house, I knew I had no eggs or butter and only a little flour and sugar. And not much of anything fresh. Also short on the beds and bedding. Then I remember  no water either ... having all these guests really isn't sounding like a good idea. But then these were all thoughts from my Western culture head. Here none of that matters. We have some rice and beans and we have much more floor space than they are used to and they don't have bedding or running water anyway so it's all fine. Well it was for a little while. The eight of us were bumping along in the boiling heat, when one of the girls got as sick as a dog (I imagine it was her first time in a car). She threw up pretty much all the way home, all on the floor at our feet. I tried to no avail to get her to do it out the window (we didn't have a bucket or anything vaguely appropriate!), but every time, just right on the floor. We were all glad to finally arrive home. But then there were new things to learn ... like toilets! The two girls didn't know what to do, and no doubt feeling nervous about it all, one just went right in the middle of the living room! Adding to the chaos was the fact that not only was there no water, but also no power. (At this point, I really just wanted a shower followed by a lovely cup of tea sitting on the couch and then a chance to sort out all our laundry.) But we managed and despite all the ensuing cultural confusions from village to town life, from Tanzanian to British life, we are so thankful we could have this friendship and in a special and rather amazing way, feel joined as part of the same family!

The other very good thing about it all was that Mama Meriziana was able to get glasses this morning. She has apparently had a lazy eye since birth, and the other eye obviously weakened. She came home from the optician and put her new glasses on and was so thrilled, it was lovely! She took out her (Swahili) Bible and read all of Isaiah 61 out loud "... to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called mighty oaks, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." And she said after reading it, "... now I have eyes."

Mama Meri (the stoves group treasurer)
reading easily for the first time!
So whether I feel like a fish out of water or not, I'm as pleased as punch we are here ... and Tim adds "definitely as mad as a hatter anyway!"

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A New EI Member and other things!

Another week has passed already! The most exciting news of the week was to hear that Andrew and Miriam Wingfield had a baby girl, named Bethany on Monday night! They are all doing well, and we are looking forward to meeting Bethany when they all get back to Tanzania in February!

Ben and Sam meet Bethany
For us here, after all the excitement of having our three visitors, this week has seemed rather more uneventful and uninteresting! The girls and I have been busy with school again, which has been a lot of time and work for me getting organized for new topics and remembering what we were supposed to be doing.  We are very grateful for the books and things that arrived with the team.
"Shadows" in Art 

Tim and Stout were in Magozi for two very hot days this week. They got there and back without any problems which is always something to be thankful for! Our car has several times this week decided not to run and also managed to get two punctures. Thanks to Andy jiggling the wires, it seems ok at the moment! On the road to Magozi, Tim and Stout did encounter an amusing incident … they stopped to let a herd of cows cross the road, and to their surprise, one cow ploughed right into the car! They were laughing at the crazy thing, when the herdsman appeared with apologies, saying that the poor cow was blind! This week marks the end of Stout’s six-month contract with us, and while in Magozi, he was able to say goodbye to the group, and they were able to express their thanks to him for all he has done during his time working there. It has been great having Stout working with us these past months, he has done so much helping with to make the initial stoves, translation work, and living and working with us in Magozi. We had a farewell for him in the office yesterday; we gave him a jiko and shared tea and cake in appreciation for his work with us.
While in Magozi it was encouraging to see the stoves group coming for the Bible study with their new Bibles; while reading aloud, it was clear that one woman in particular was really struggling with her eyesight. With the donated money left over from the Bibles, we are going to be able to bring her back to Iringa next week to get some glasses. They were also able to meet baby Ilumbo (Kigogo for “thanks”) for the first time. He is the first child of one of the guys that meets each week with Tim.
Baby Ilumbo
We continue to be frustrated with the water situation. Most days now we are without running water, although we are grateful that it usually comes on at night, so we can fill buckets and flush the toilet! But we have had several days and nights without water and been wary about filling another bucket from the bottom of our rainwater tank. We are grateful to have the water we do get, as others outside the centre of town are faring far worse and walking with buckets to get it. There are big problems with the Iringa water works; we have heard that the water pressure has been increased but the system can’t cope with this. We really hope they can fix all the problems that keep springing up! We will be glad to have showers and washing machines running again and feel free to use the water for the less-critical cleaning - it’s all prioritized! And we’ll be glad for the rains which could come in the next month or so!

Friday, 21 October 2011

“Waste Not Want Not” A Lesson from Maisy

What’s been cookin’ in Tanzania this week? PORK! Poor, lovely, little Maisy to be precise. What an experience! Another first for the Mongers in Tanzania! Be warned now though, if you are squeamish or vegetarian you may want to skim this update!
We discovered that Greg Whittick (our Tadley church pastor who has been visiting us for two weeks) worked as a butcher many years ago! So we just had to make the most of his time with us and put him to this rather unexpected task! And so the day before he (and Hugh and Lyn) left Iringa, the deed was done! We hired a couple of guys to come and do the worst bit, which rather unfortunately happened at the same time as a visit from Miriam from Compassion Iringa. So while chatting about compassionate things like child sponsorship, there arose a terrible squealing and some rather distraught wailing from two little girls! But the trauma subsided, and there was much to do and much to learn! Now I am not sure that this blog is to be “how-to” guide on pig butchery, but it was such an experience I have to share some of it!
Out with the liver

No comment!
We had a fire going and a huge pot of boiling water ready with which to scald and scrape off the hair. I was surprised how easy this was and how beautifully smooth and white the skin appeared underneath. Then we hung the body from the two back legs in a tree to drain the blood. We had a little trouble with bad string which caused her to suddenly drop, but with many hands, she was easily caught and tied back up! Greg took over here, for his first time eviscerating a pig (taking out the innards). We had done some research online, studied Andy Sharpe’s book on Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour and I of course had reread "Little House in the Big Woods" which is my classic textbook on all things pioneering (chapter 1 is brilliant for everything from making the smokehouse to butchering to making a ball with the bladder). Greg expertly managed to tie off the bung gut – the girls were fascinated by the poo! And then to cut out the insides; we were nervous here about slicing too deep down the belly and piercing the intestines (not a good thing to do!) but Greg’s careful hand slit neatly down and all the various bits and pieces really pretty much slid right out.  I was eagerly looking for the bladder for the ball and we had a brief visual lesson on hearts and lungs and stomachs. 
With everything out, the pig was laid on a table, ready to butcher and Greg was now in more familiar territory. He did a fantastic job, and left us a whole pig in recognisable joints! Usually when we buy pork here, random bits arrive in a plastic carrier bag. He boned and rolled the legs for us (now being saved for Christmas). We have chops, spare ribs, belly, shoulder joints, trotters …. I had put aside the tail and was looking forward to roasting it (like they do in Little House on the Prairie!) but to my great disappointment, the dogs sneaked over and got away with the tail! Greg worked really hard; it’s no quick, easy task!
And since the butchering, the job has been what to do with all the meat. Maisy was not a big pig, but she has given us a good supply of meat!  Joints and chops have been labelled and put in the freezer. I am very excited about my first attempt at making bacon with the belly (we really miss bacon!) We haven’t had time to make the smokehouse, so I am dry-curing two batches of bacon. One is maple-cured and the other is rosemary and garlic! I hope it will taste as good as it sounds!  I have also made liver pate (made with our fresh homemade butter) and chilied kidney sauce. I have cubed pork for casseroles and ground meat for meatballs. I have made Chinese pork stock, and now am just preparing Sweet and Sour Pigs Trotters! (Not entirely sure about this one to be honest, but couldn’t pass up the chance to try!) We have the fat ready to make lard, and have already used the fat to cook ugali! And for some non-edible fun, I have blown up the bladder for the girls to toss around.
Pork!
From this ...
to this!


So I now feel like someone somewhere between the Good Life and the Little House on the Prairie! I never would have guessed a few years ago that I would be living like this! It is good; nothing is wasted, everything is used and re-used and by being creative, we learn to manage with so much less. (Mind you, I feel like I am running out of “creativity” to manage without water so much of the time!) Maisy was a good pig for us and none of her was wasted! And I guess I’m thinking the same for me in all that I do, and also for the girls as they grow up … may none of us be wasted! May our lives be used and re-used by God, may our time be well spent, may our words and actions be useful and fruitful.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Tadley comes to Tanzania

 I haven't blogged in a while, but I have a good excuse! We are enjoying having Greg, Hugh and Lyn from Tadley here with us for two weeks! It is so lovely to have them here with us, but the time just seems to be flying by. Tim, myself and the girls took the bus to Dar last Tuesday, and took the opportunity to find a dentist. Amisadai's mouth is getting rather too full of teeth and we wanted to get them checked. Amisadai flinched and faltered visibly as we walked through the hot corridor to the examination room - seeing bare metal hospital beds and ominous-looking medical instruments brought back bad memories!  But with the assurance of no needles this time, both girls seemed pretty impressed with the green dentist chair that looked like something from the 60's! The room was nothing like the sterile, white dentist rooms we are used to, but the dentist was very friendly and the girls even got a balloon afterwards which was a great surprise!


Happy Birthday, Hugh!

 The Tadley three arrived early on Friday morning and it was so exciting to go and pick them up from the airport. We had a fairly quiet two days there before the Sunday when Tim, Greg and Hugh were all preaching at Victory Christian Centre on Sunday. It was good to spend time again with Pastor Huruma and his lovely family too. On Monday we all boarded our Sumry bus for the long journey to Iringa. We left early, having breakfast at 5am before leaving the guest house at 5:15, and finally made it to our house at about 4:15pm having had an hour on the roadside after driving into a minibus in front. We were just thankful that was all it was.

Happy Birthday, Greg!

We had a slow day on Tuesday to recover from the journey, but enjoyed a visit to Neema Crafts to see the amazing things that they are doing there... and have a delicious lunch! On Wednesday we were bumping our way off to Magozi, where we all stayed overnight. It was so fantastic to take visitors! They all did really well, adjusting to the heat and a completely different way of life (and even snakes and cockroaches!) We ate uji and ugali and rice and beans. But best of all was being with the people there. The stoves group was so encouraged by their visit and so incredibly grateful for the gift of Bibles from Tadley Community Church. Thank you so much to all of you who gave for these Bibles - you cannot imagine how much it means to them! Now every member of the stoves group has one and we can all study the Bible together. In a few weeks we are going to start some training for some of the women to learn how to read, so that they can read their own Bible! It is so moving and exciting. In the morning, Hugh led a Bible study with the new Bibles, and Greg did some business teaching. Then the stoves group demonstrated the process of making a jiko. In the afternoon, we invited children to come to the church building and Lyn had organised a story and activities for them. They loved it! For some of the kids it was the first time to hold a crayon and colour a picture. They squealed with laughter as Greg made animals out of balloons and they have a big banner of Noah's Ark to put up on the wall on Sunday.
New Bibles!
Kids Afternoon
 
The girls love having Lyn here!

Now we are back in Iringa, making sure we tick all the boxes of things to do... just had samosas from Hasty Tasty... check! This afternoon the conference at the Pentecostal church begins. Greg preaches this evening, Hugh tomorrow and Greg again on Sunday. Now to make some fruit salad ... mango, papaya, banana, pineapple ... yum!


Saturday, 1 October 2011

What's Cookin' with the Followers?


Tim is outside building the new chicken house - I can't wait for my fresh eggs again! As this is our last day of internet before we head off to Dar-es-Salaam on Tuesday, I am making the most of it and taking a break from the kitchen. I have now made lots of granola, ready for our UK vistitors next week! That will mean less uji for them! Cooking up breads and cakes too! We are really looking forward to seeing Greg and Hugh and Lyn from our church in the UK! They will be with us for two weeks and will be kept busy in Dar, Iringa and Magozi! We are going to Dar on the bus before they arrive on Friday as we want to find a dentist and get teeth checked (miss you, Mark Holley, if you are reading this!). We also want to get some promotional T-shirts printed for the stoves group as they start selling the stoves. They are so excited about these T-shirts - some people wanted to join the group just so they could get a T-shirt like ours!

I've just looked for the first time since we have been here at the site meter for our blog. This blog has been going now for over 16 months and has 77 posts now! Over 12000 page views and 42 followers and what a lot of countries! I enjoy writing it - it is always good reflecting on what we are doing and why! But we hope you enjoy a little window into our very changed lives, seeing what our new life is like.

I sometimes wonder what you all imagine when you read it! It is often hard to give a true, balanced picture! I also hope those of you who are supporting our work here can feel encouraged and part of what we are doing. We are so very dependent on you and grateful more than we can say! I know it is easy and seems quite impersonal sending this blog out to all of you, and wish I would send more personal letters, but we do think of all of you, our friends, as we send our news out. And we would love to hear some of your news too! We can see by site location all the people that have been reading about what I ramble on about and wonder who you all are! Many of you we can guess by knowing where friends live, but then there are all these others following who we don't even know! And some of you have even sent encouraging messages! Thank you! It is very encouraging! We love to hear from you and know who you are! I like to blog to keep in touch with friends so you know what we are up to, but it is an added bonus to get to know other people along the way!

Thanks for following along! Thanks for encouraging us along the way!