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

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Return from The Warm Heart of Africa

We are back in Tanzania after a wonderful trip south through Malawi! It is difficult to know where to begin and what to say as we seem to have done and seen so much in our 12 days away! We took two and half days to drive to Zomba; it was a scenic drive, most of it alongside Lake Malawi which is vast and beautiful! We were stopped along the way numerous times for police checks, and twice caught for speeding - once in Tanzania and once in Malawi (I’ll leave you to guess who that was!) But otherwise the journey was uneventful with lots of rounds of Happy Families, listening to stories like the Secret Garden and Little Grey Rabbit and periodic look-outs for possible bush stops, which is harder than you think in a country where there are always people walking along the road and we attract a fair bit of attention!

We had a wonderful time with Paul and Helen Jones, the EI directors for Malawi. They warmly welcomed the six of us (we were travelling with Andy and Angela) into their home and made sure we learned as much as we could in our time with the large EI team there. We were thoroughly spoiled with pancakes and Canadian maple syrup and cinnamon buns and muffins for breakfasts! Every day we were able to visit different areas where EI is working, and were inspired with ideas to bring back with us. It was very encouraging to see so many lives being transformed, to hear firsthand their stories; widows who had no hope for the future now meet together to study the Bible, they work together to set up small businesses to generate income and have an established Village Savings and Loans program which enables entrepreneuring investment. Leaders are trained in rural villages to teach basic nutrition and hygiene, particular attention is given to pregnant women and women with young children. Malnutrition and sickness are so common and it is so good to see the changes being made. Orphans are being cared for, taught and trained in practical skills. Water is being pumped for children in schools…

We began our journey home on Friday and stayed at various places on the way home. We stayed beside the Lake for the first two nights and enjoyed swimming and splashing in it! The sunsets and sunrises were a picture and the fish was delicious! The third night found us up a mountain near to Livingstonia. The little raised huts we stayed in were perched right on the edge of the mountain and had the most spectacular view! Even standing in the outdoor shower (heated by a fire) gave an awesome view (hopefully only out and not in!) Unfortunately we were not able to make it to Livingstonia itself as we had some heavy rain and the roads were horrendous! We slid off the road in the mud after only 100m! With some help, we were out and off again, but after slipping around up a muddy track for a little longer we were halted by another truck well and truly stuck in the mud! Andy skillfully manoeuvred a sliding 9-point U-turn on a slippery, steep mud road and we gave up getting up to Livingstonia and headed down the steep mountain road with sheer drops and hairpin bends. And all breathed a sigh of relief at the bottom!

We had a great time with Andy and Angela on our travels! The girls love them to bits and they really are super surrogate grandparents! They played games, listened to all their chattering, and helped Amisadai learn to swim!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Detour Days

I went shopping after my language lesson this afternoon and realized how quickly I had forgotten what it is like to shop in England or Canada. I needed some photocopying done and so went to my usual lady who does copying. Her machine was broken, so I went down the road and found another copier. We were doing fine, but halfway through he ran out of paper! I’ll go back and do the rest another day. Tim had ordered some new sunglasses (to replace the UK glasses which met a sorry end at the bottom of a pit!). He went to pick them up today. They look good, but they were not very darkly tinted for sunglasses. Apparently the power had gone off and the man explained that the “tinting machine” could only do so much on the limited power of the generator he had for such times! Maybe Tim can go back when the power is on and have them tinted a bit more!
I came home from shopping to see if the power was back on. It had gone off just after putting the clothes in the machine, which was rather unfortunate as we need to get the laundry done before I can pack for the trip! I was surprised and pleased to find it had come back on, however no sooner was the machine back on, the water stopped! But at least now with power, I was able to do the baking for supplies for the journey. But would you believe it, before the banana loaf was baked, the power went back off. So I have just now cut the outside pieces off to take with us! Some days just never seem to go straight forward!
We are hoping to have a straight-forward trip to Malawi – no detours! We leave on Thursday and will be returning on the 28th or 29th March. Please pray for safety on the long journey there and back, and that we would learn a lot during our time with the Malawi team!

Monday, 14 March 2011

More on Magozi

We had a good day yesterday - we went to be with the church in Magozi.We left home with the Wingfileds at 8am and got there in time for the 10am service. It was really good to finally meet with the people there! It was also good as they had a Sunday School (which is unusual here) and so the girls were able to go outside with the other children. They didn’t understand the lesson, and were rather shy to join in at first! But they enjoyed the actions for the singing and really enjoyed playing "paka paka panya" ("cat cat mouse" or "duck duck goose" as we call it!) We had our stove with us and at the end of the service, they asked us to talk about it. Andrew did a great job telling them all about the stove, and they all seemed very interested in the possibility of doing the project in the village. There were lots of questions which was really encouraging! We were invited to stay and share a meal with the pastor and a few others. And on this trip to Magozi we had no incidents in the “holes” The girls do find it tricky going to the toilet and this week in the village, Tim took Louisa to the hole and as he bent down to help her, his good prescription sunglasses fell in. Oh dear! They tried fishing them out (Yuck!) – they had stuck on the way down on a little ledge, but trying to hook them back, they knocked them to the bottom. And to finish off that day, they broke down again on the way home and were stuck for a while in the middle of nowhere!

Tim was back in Magozi again today, going to meet with the potters to dig for the clay they use. He arrived home rather smelly and went straight in the shower! He and Andrew had been trekking though water waist deep in rivers and rice fields looking for clay! He took off his socks and shoes but his trousers were a state! And he’s come back with some rash on his shoulder/neck which I guess could be bites or possibly heat rash? I'll look later! And Andrew with a gash on his toe. Quite the day, but they got the clay!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Hair Attack and other Things

The pigs have been named and are now known affectionately as Lulu (the bigger one) and Maisy (the little one). They have settled in well and are clearly enjoying their food! The girls love going to see them. We are also making some new nest boxes in the chicken coup, as the plan now is to breed some more chickens. These little chicks will grow up to provide the eggs to go with our bacon!

It is hotter here now and we seem to be getting more days without rain – this since we finished making our rain gauge! The road to our house is in a terrible state! We have to go a different way to get out now as the potholes have widened to a deep crevice across the width of the whole road in one place! It is still manageable on the bike, but it’s a bumpy ride (especially with mangoes bumping up and down on your back). The other day I walked home from school but forgot the consequences of walking with my hair down! I had not gone far before I was accosted by at least ten little schoolgirls! They were quite literally all over me, stroking, pulling, tossing my hair in every direction. The situation was quickly out of control but at least now I had some Swahili to tell them in no uncertain terms, “ENOUGH!” But even that didn’t work. In the end I just had to run away. But I had not gone far before, to my horror, another couple of girls approached and quickly reached up to stroke my hair. Thankfully this time it ended peacefully. Now my hair is always tied up.

Tim and the girls were in Magozi again this week and were able to meet four potters from the area. We were surprised to discover they were all grandmothers, one in her nineties! Unfortunately there are no young potters apprenticing under them. But it was an encouraging and useful visit and we are all looking forward to being with the church there for the first time on Sunday and Tim will be going back again next week to find the potters clay sources.
The black Magozi clay stove

We leave on Thursday for our trip to Malawi. We will spend the first night in Mbeya in the south. We will cross the border on Friday and get as far as we can before dark, heading south along the Lake. We plan to arrive in Zomba on Saturday. We will have a week with the EI Malawi Team, and are very much looking forward to learning all that we can from them. We will be looking at the work being done by churches in communities there, including the stoves and water/sanitation projects but also agriculture and healthcare projects, orphan care, a widow’s welfare programme and pastoral support. We will stop on the way back for an extra night in a hotel by the lake which will allow a day of exploring in and around Livingstonia. I am currently reading “Into Africa” about the efforts of Henry Stanley to find Livingstone (“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”) and look forward to seeing this territory of their explorations over 100 years on.

Hair Attack Part 2

Further to the last blog written earlier but still waiting to be posted, we have had another hair attack! This time it was Tim with scissors in hand with instructions to take a bit off the bottom of my hair. In one fail swoop, it was up to my chin (in places). With my shriek of horror, the girls looked at the hair and both burst into tears, Amisadai trying to think of anything to help (“I’ll get some tape, we can tape it back on, Mummy.”) Tim assures me it truly wasn’t revenge for his haircut from me! He just thought he was below shoulder level with the scissors and didn’t think it would spring back up so much! But after a first attempt to sort the problem and Amisadai crying out “that’s going up Daddy!” none of us were keen for him to continue! I SOS’ed the Wingfields and Andrew (who rescued Tim’s hair the first time, and has cut Miriam’s hair a few times) was able to redeem the situation. After thinking I would be wearing a hat for quite some time, it actually looks just fine now!

And further to the blog about the new chicks … our first attempt has failed. Chuckles ate her egg.

And now to go and heat some leftovers for lunch … because last night this was one thing that did go right. We had a lovely family from the Pentecostal Church for a meal last night and the power cut off just as the rice was finishing cooking and the pudding was just five minutes short of coming out of the oven anyway! What good timing! Although the lemon pudding was interesting as it tasted remarkably like oranges instead. Both lemons and oranges here are green!

In all of this, all we can say you never know unless you try, and we do keep trying!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Pancakes and Pigs… yes, we’ve got PIGS!

The kiln has been finished and the first stoves have been fired – and, to our great delight, they all survived. The fire was lit (yes, this was easier said than done, but James came the rescue when both Tim and Andy failed!). We all helped to cover the pots in the kiln with grass and mud. All seemed to be going well …. Smoke alert! The grass caught fire! A short while later the roof collapsed! Plan A was abandoned and four very black stoves were retrieved from the kiln. When things had cooled down the following day, we splashed out with a tin roof. Not free, but it worked better!

Oh dear!
Then the stoves were ready to use. It was all very timely on the first day as we had no power anyway. But great anticipation ended in initial failure! We tried to boil water, but the fire went out! Undeterred, we relit the fire and succeeded in boiling water to drink. Then it was time for pancakes! But I failed to get the fire hot enough and it went out again! After an hour and half (must be a record for the longest time trying to cook pancakes!) I succumbed and lit the gas camp burner! (I hesitate to write all this as I prided myself in my pyromaniacs when camping.) But we will persevere. Other than our technical difficulties in keeping fires going, the stoves do seem pretty good! Scientific and culinary testing on them are upcoming…

And the big news today is …. WE’VE GOT PIGS! Tim and Spedito finished building a pig pen for them down in the middle of our garden in amidst the trees. Much to the girls’ great excitement they were able to sleep in it with Tim the other night! It was a great adventure to sleep in a pig pen and after fueling themselves for warmth with hot chocolate and Minstrels (thank you, Bendells) they trekked out in the dark with torches and lots of DEET and snuggled up for the night! I tucked the three little pigs in their blankets and headed back to the house for a quiet evening and my comfortable bed. There was no huffing and puffing from a big, bad wolf and they awoke at 6:15am, house intact, and called me on my mobile requesting morning tea!
The Three Little Pigs
And now the new occupants have arrived. Two little girl piggies (for whom we are still considering names) came home with us this morning in the Landcruiser, squealing and pooing! Maybe we should call them “Sausage” and “Bacon” as this is what we are looking forward to! That is if I can learn how to make sausages and cure and smoke bacon (any advice welcome). We are all very excited about this new addition to our rather unexpected household of chickens, rabbits, dogs, tortoises (we have another tortoise now too)! So now I have a slop bucket in the kitchen and the girls and I are now just off to collect lots of grass to dry for their beds.