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 But here it is now, just a little out of date!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!



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.