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

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Walking in the Footsteps

What is it about journeys made in history that we find so fascinating? As the girls and I have taken a week at school to think about journeys, I have been again intrigued by the fascination most of us have for journeys that have been made by people before us and the excitement found in “walking in the footsteps…”

We have looked at the journey of Florence Nightingale from England to France and across the Mediterranean to Turkey to work at the Scutari hospitals in the Crimean War (1856). (Amisadai is now keen to visit Turkey!) Florence had a difficult and perilous sea crossing with an unplanned stop for safety in Malta. We also looked at the three journeys of Paul as he took the gospel from Israel far and wide, across the Mediterranean. All those years before Florence Nightingale, Paul in the first century, travelled those same waters and faced similar difficulties in them. He too found safe land in Malta after being shipwrecked! And now going back to Florence Nightingale in 1856 (when the War ended), who else was travelling back to England on another journey in that same year, but David Livingstone! He came back from Africa to report on his journeys of exploration in the unmapped heart of Africa. And that brings us to today. As we prepare for our own journey to Malawi next month, we map our route along the very same trails up Lake Malawi (Nyasa) that David Livingstone took around 150 years ago. And as we read the life story and study the maps of David Livingstone, we are all excited to be “walking in his footsteps.”

And in the midst of thinking about these journeys across sea and land, across the span of time, I am reading to the girls a chapter every night of “Treasures in the Snow” by Patricia M. St. John. This is about the journeys of two children to find forgiveness for themselves and one another. It all seems to lead to even deeper reflections on the journeys of life … where are we going, what are we doing, what is the final destination and how do we get there? And it does all go back to the question, “Whose footsteps are we walking in?”

Monday, 21 February 2011

A Camping Weekend and a Day in Magozi

We have just returned from a fun weekend, camping with the EI Team. We went with Andrew, Miriam, Ben (3) and Sam (2) and Andy and Angela to a lovely spot about 1.5 hours away. It was great to have time to enjoy being together, to talk and pray about all that we and the churches here are doing. Now, before you imagine us getting dusty and hot in the African sun, I must tell you that it was rather like camping in Scotland. Yes, it was wet and rather chilly! The rain began as we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the restaurant on the first evening. We arrived back at the tents to the sound of Ben’s crying –the tent flap had been open and with his bed underneath, he was soaking wet L We had realised that we could not all sleep in our tent if it were wet, as only the small sleeping compartment was waterproof. And arriving back we found, much as we predicted, the front part awash with rain. Fortunately, we had moved most things (including the girls) into the sleeping compartment. So I spent the first night in the Nissan Patrol! The next night I was cosily tucked up in a “banda” with Andy and Angela!

On Saturday we had a walk in the rain and squelched in mud, so it was all a very familiar camping experience! But we did all have a wonderful time together! The site was great, we had a covered banda to cook and sit in. The girls were so happy to have their bikes there and Louisa made excellent progress and is now able to ride on two wheels by herself!

A wet walk

Our group banda

Last Monday the four of us went with Andrew to Magozi, the village where we are thinking about starting the stoves project. We were so encouraged and excited at the prospects there. We met Mr. Duma, a government official who already has a keen interest in developing this project in the area. He came with us and introduced us to a village leader and to several people who are interested in the stoves. He and some men from the village walked us out to find some local clay which we dug up to bring back for some trial stoves. Walking past the rice fields we saw lots of people at work; the area was full of many “shambas” (areas cultivated for crops). The land was vast, much flatter down in the Rift Valley compared to where we are up in Iringa. And much hotter too! Back in the village, we (with rather an accumulating entourage) walked through the small travelling market which passes through the village once (maybe twice) a month. Several times throughout the day (we also visited two nearby villages) Mr. Duma would get our demo stove out beside the vehicle and in a very short time, we would be surrounded by curious crowds eager to see what had come to the village!

We are looking forward to visiting again soon. We will visit the church on a Sunday morning. It will be good to talk with the pastor to see how best we can help him and his church to help this village. It has been a few years now since the church and EI first talked about working together on a stoves project and so they have long been waiting for someone to do it. Well, finally, here we are! We are also looking forward to meeting the local potter (yes, it is very good news to find a potter in situ.) It is so exciting to see the beginnings of the work on this project underway! This week we fire the stoves (the girls enjoyed slapping mud on the kiln last week.) We were supposed to fire today, but have been delayed because the firewood is not yet chopped. We could have further delays, (indeed progress will be entirely halted) if Tim cannot light the fire (no joke – this is not as easy as he thought!) And also upcoming now is the job of hiring someone to help on the project.

Digging up Magozi clay

Sadly, I must finish now with some rather sad news. Three baby bunnies died this last night/morning, leaving just one left of the five we started with. We found them very poorly, apparently due to the “cold” weather we had. So the girls are rather upset, but we are hoping that Sude will produce some more bunnies soon!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Hair cuts and head cuts

Yes, Tim had a hair cut ... and I cut it!!! Now many of you reading this will know that there are very strict boundries around Tim's hair! I have never been able to touch it with a comb, let alone scissors! Well, with no local hairdressers out here, it called for drastic measures in a desperate situation! And so a few weeks ago, I was given clippers! I was doing really well, but then it all went terribly wrong. I forgot I had taken the guard off ... and proceeded to cut round his ears. Horror! Major oops! Andrew Wingfield came quickly to the rescue and Tim ended up with a very short haircut and a slight bald patch round his right ear. I thought for sure my life as Tim's hairdresser was over. But this weekend, I was given a second chance! And I think I passed this time. Judge for yourself, but not bad for a novice? Since then someone else has asked me to cut their hair, but I don't think I'm quite ready for a new career yet! This week Tim is cutting mine ... thankfully he's not one to take revenge ... (I hope!)

And as I practiced my hairdressing skills on Tim's hair cut, I also had to practice my first aid skills on Louisa's head cut today. Although my first aid skills are really not much better than my hairdressing skills, thankfully, all has ended up a lot better than it could have done on Louisa's head.

We had rather an eventful day today. We drove out to a small village (Lupembe) over an hour away to visit a church that EI is currently working with to help with a new church building (good for reasons you will see later!) When we arrived, Louisa jumped out of the Landcruiser, her skirt caught on the bumper and she fell head first to the ground, landing with her head on a sharp rock. She had a nasty cut on her forehead. It was rather worrying at that point, knowing we were very far away from any medical help. The pastor of the church held her as we cleaned her up with wipes and alcohol wipes (ouch!) It was not as deep as we had first thought, and thankfully we had a first aid kit and were able to glue her back together with steri-strips. And I thankfully, didn't pass out! With a calpol tablet and a bottle of fizzy fanta, she perked up pretty quickly. And Miriam (who is a nurse) checked and sorted her out when we got home this evening, and it looks ok, no stitches needed! We are so thankful as it could have been so much worse.

See, I'm ok!

After all the trauma of our arrival at the church, the service had its own excitement! It was a very small village church, made of mud with a grass roof and dirt floor. In the middle of the sermon, there was an incredibly heavy rainstorm! The rain blew in at the back and the floor got muddier and muddier. The rain came through the roof and it became harder and harder to find one of the low wooden benches to sit on that wasn't under a hole! The offering was soaked, the tablecloth on the alter was soaked, the floor had huge muddy puddles. Andrew was preaching and did an amazing job keeping going through it all! It made us realize how very good it is that we are building this new church building for them. Before this morning, I was thinking only how nice it would be to have a bigger building, I had no idea how important it was to get a roofed building.

To top off this eventful day, we got a puncture on the way home! Again, here we are in the middle of nowhere, this time so thankful to have a spare tire!

And so ends another week! We've been busy - Laura came to make a stove with me the other day, and this brings the total number to seven now. We've removed a huge dead rat from the ceiling (stinky!), had two consecutive days without running water, more power cuts, lost and found the bunnies and sadly lost one bunny to a dog's breakfast. We enjoyed an EI team skype with everyone at the UK EI Conference yesterday, and it was great to know their support for all of us. And we are looking forward to a camping weekend retreat as a team next weekend. Love from Tanzania!
Making a jiko with Laura

Thursday, 3 February 2011

On a Pink Bus to Mbeya

We returned on Monday evening from our visit to Mbeya. We travelled down early on Saturday by bus, a rather rickety and very pink bus! Louisa was delighted! It took us a full 6.5 hours, although there was a call for a very quick stop at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere! At one point we were momentarily halted by a lorry which had just turned over, scattered its goods and completely blocked the road. After waiting a few minutes, our bus driver then found a way down off the road and along a side track and back onto the road! Bumpity-bump! We were thankful when we finally made up every hill and into Mbeya! We really enjoyed our time with Pastor Sunday and his church. Tim met Pastor Sunday about three years ago when they were both in Dar-es-Salaam and it was great to finally be able to accept his invitation! It was great fun to be with them as they celebrated their 4th Anniversary as a church on Sunday.

Church lunch for everyone!

Eating outside!

We met many new people, and visited the Bible College there. We stayed at a centre which is used by SIL Bible Translators and it was interesting also to see the work they do translating into the nine local languages around Mbeya. It was wonderful to see something of the Southern Highlands; so many beautiful places which we are looking forward to exploring! Volcanic craters, meteorites, hot springs, bat caves (maybe not!) mountains, lakes …

With Pastor Sunday in Mbeya
Last night we had a lovely time with the retired Archbishop of Tanzania, Donald and his wife, Gladys. He was the Bishop of our local Diocese here shortly before we arrived. He is going to the UK next week; he is the guest speaker at the Emmanuel International Annual Conference on Feb. 11-13 and will be meeting some of you who are hreading this! We sent him with our love and greetings to you!

So all is well here! The kiln is finished, we now wait another two weeks until we can fire the six stoves. Homeschooling and language school continue to go well (most of the time!) And as I write I feel very healthy for all this bike riding to and from school and market with kilos and kilos of vegetables and fruit on my back!
Tim and the almost-completed kiln