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

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

1 comment:

  1. You will certainly be closer to the reality of the first Christmas which took place in a dark, smelly 'stable'. The arrival of baby Lightness is a wonderful picture of the Light of the world coming here 2000 years ago and we trust that her arrival will similarly be significant in the lives of the people of Magozi. Lots of love. Edwin & Margaret


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