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

Monday, 23 May 2011

Greasy hair, smelly toilets and spitting cobras

I am sitting here in the dark squeezing the last juice from this computer battery! We have also been squeezing the last drops of water as we have now had three days without running water. We are getting very good at recycling water from first use to third use! Greasy hair, dirty clothes, smelly toilets! Tanzania is having a period of increased powercuts at the moment. Some say it has run out of money to buy power from whatever country it buys from. Others report fixing parts… Our phone line is also dead, so with no phone or internet, no water, no power and to top it off, a spitting cobra in our garden, we are feeling like we are in Africa or something! The spitting cobra was spotted on Friday and Amisadai braved the first attempt with Spedito to poison him in his hole. It failed. On Saturday, Spedito came across him hissing by our washing line and quietly followed him back to a second hole he had made. Spedito said he was too big (aggh!) to try and lure out for a kill, so tried a second attempt to poison him and covered the hole with rocks. Now two days later we hope he is dead in his hole, but are not totally sure…

A Christmas parcel! Thank you, Esther and Maria!
Hopefully despite the obstacles (and also without the invaluable help of Mama Lucy who has sadly been sick since last Wednesday) we will be ready to board our bus early on Thursday, clean clothes or no clean clothes! We are off to Dar-es-Salaam to pick up Tim’s parents who arrive on Friday morning. We are then flying out on Monday to Mwanza (on Lake Victoria) where Tim and his Dad are speaking at a Pastors’ Conference organized by two churches with whom we have a great relationship (led by Pastor Zakayo and Pastor Charles). We think there are over 120 pastors coming from all over the Mwanza area, more than twice as many as came to the first conference 18 months ago when Tim and his Dad were visiting! We will have a week in Mwanza, staying with Mama Minja (and visiting the orphanage she has set up), visiting the various projects that the church is involved in, and Tim and his Dad will be preaching in the two churches on the Sunday. We will then fly back to Dar and catch the bus the following day back to Iringa… with Grandma and Grandad! Lots of fun!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Ups and Downs and Solar Kebabs

It's been a week of  both sadness and happiness. We felt very far away grieving this week the sudden death of Karen in the UK, mum of Tawney and Heather who are friends of Amisadai and Louisa. And at the same time we celebrated with George and Rachel the birth of their first baby, also in the UK. And in the midst of our thoughts being in England, life goes on here. We had to say goodbye to Kate who has been working on her PhD here, living with Andy and Angela, and is now heading back to the UK. But on a happy note, we have enjoyed some useful science fun, a good time in Magozi and our first oranges (yum!).

The Cone Cookers with Bananas stuffed
with chocolate!

Cooking eggs

Our solar experimentation has been good fun. The girls have been learning about energy from the sun and we have been able to do some solar cone cooking eggs (first attempt failed as we didn't leave them long enough and they were a bit raw!) and chocolate bananas (delicious! But we left them too long and melted the cups!)

Oops! Melted cups

We tried fruity kebabs on parabola cookers and we are drying chilis and mangos in the awesome solar dryer Tim built. The solar dryer in particular is something we would like to work on as part of our stove project and encourage its use as a means of food preservation, supply of nutritious food and also possibly as a small local business idea. So it's been very useful science work!

Parabola Cooker Kebabs

Solar Dryer
Today we were in Magozi and had a good and encouraging time with the church there. It was very hot and dry there, and quite unbelievable how quickly the land has gone from lush green to dusty brown. Tim preached very well in Swahili with very impressive improvement to the last time he did this - always encouraging. We feel we are getting to know people and also realized a large number of people are wanting to join the group we will soon be starting to work on the stoves, so again, it is encouraging! This week, they will be digging the three large pits we will use to store and prepare the clay for the stoves.

Learning to weave in Magozi

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

What's Cookin' with Mama Kiri

Yesterday I got cookin' with Mama Kiri on one of our jikos! Mama Kiri is a lovely lady who lives very close to us. She is a good friend, a good cook and also speaks Swahili in a way I can understand (slow and simple!) It is her nephew, Stout, who is working with Tim. I enjoyed a morning learning from her as we prepared and cooked some Tanzanian dishes and talked about local food. As well as the very different cuisine here, Tanzanian cooking  is so culturally different as well. It is slow process, enjoyed with company. Sitting outside on the mat in the shade of the sun, five of us ladies peeled potatoes, sorted rice, stemmed the mchicha leaves .... There is no Ainsley with Ready Steady Cook here! Slowly, peas are shelled, garlic is peeled and ground in the pestle and mortar, groundnuts are roasted, peeled and ground. And then when everything is prepared, it's time to cook on the jiko (stove). Lunch is ready when it is ready, there's no clock! And it was delicious when it was ready! And with fresh mango juice as well! 
Mama Kiri preparing the rice

Some of you on facebook may have seen our "solar conversations". We had a day without sun, and I was as cold as I have ever been here! The rainy season has finished here and it is a sobering thought, knowing the next rain will not come until December (especially when with all the recent cuts in running water we must use our precious rainwater). But the sun is out again now (and the water happens to be on again too) and so the girls and I have been able to continue with our science studies on solar power! It was suggested to us that we try candle power rather than solar power when the sun disappeared. And so we did. And discovered that heating 250ml water to a temperature of 30C took 15 minutes in the sun and took 4 minutes held over a candle! So candle power is quick, but you have to buy the candle and it does make your arm ache holding the pan!

Today's experiment proved that ice melts most quickly on black card (and also shiny card), and most slowly on light card. So with black as a proven good sun absorber, we are making our solar oven and dryer to feature lots of black and aluminum foil!

And one final note, please remember Tim in your prayers on Friday. He has the first official meeting in Magozi to discuss the stove project with the village leaders. We hope to get the official go-ahead to begin the project with the church in this village.