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

Monday, 30 January 2012

Life at the Equatorial Arctic

Louisa's Antarctic snow scene
We had snow!
We've had great adventures exploring the Arctic and Antarctica this week! It was one of those times that homeschooling is just so much fun - and as much as I am happy teaching the girls, I can't always say that! But I learnt a lot too - I learned how to gut a fish! We ate fish and bannock (Inuit bread) and made snow scenes and experimented with blubber and insulating materials.  Thank you to all those of you who have sent craft supplies out - the white card, cottonballs, glitter, glue, paint and tissue paper and even all the packaging came in very useful and we had fun making marshmallow polar bears - thanks, Sarah! I'll let the girls say more when they post some of their explorer logbooks later!

Life size penguins and polar bears
Tim went on his own to Magozi this week and after a delayed start due to a collapsing road which left him VERY stuck in the mud he did arrive in one piece! You can see Louisa's blog for her literary version and some photos, but it was a bit of excitement, as even with all the people out there helping, we still had a very difficult time! We tried pushing then pulling; we had to help out the rescue Landrover which got stuck trying! We had a herd of cows traipse through the action, the front hook flew off ... And now over to Tim for his news from Magozi...
Rescuing the rescue vehicle!
While in Magozi, I picked up the stoves which were to be given as Christmas presents for our house workers here in Iringa; rather late because we were out of phase with the cycle of making, drying and firing stoves and so there were no fired stoves ready at Christmas time. Never mind, our workers were delighted to receive them this week. The stove group fired 60 stoves last week, so well done to them. On the Wednesday, four stove group members asked to go to Itunundu (a large village about 20 km away) for a reconnaissance visit looking for selling and marketing opportunities. We found the village office, were welcomed by the village leaders and the group gave an impromptu stove presentation. The leaders were very impressed and welcomed us warmly. Afterwards, we found the Itunundu village market and the four started trying to sell stoves. The group were impressed at what an opportunity the market gives and are inspired for next time with ideas of what to do with presentations, cooking demonstrations and food tasting! We then visited the home of the Pentecostal pastor whom I had met previously and who had said he'd like a stove project in Itunundu. We finally made it back to Magozi in the dark but pretty satisfied having sold 3 of the 5 stoves we took to show. Not bad for a fact-finding mission!

Showing the stoves
On Thursday, I drove several of the stove group into the forest to get some clay samples. Two had previously gone the 3-4km on foot. After checking with them it was possible to reach this place by car, I set off with them. There followed a tricky 2 km drive of trying to find the way and avoid getting a puncture by missing prickles. Eventually I was told, "we're lost!" They did find another way and what looks to be plenty of good clay. We just had time to visit a nearby Masai community and I was given 3 litres of fresh Masai yoghurt, before returning to Magozi!
The Masai children washing the "kibuyu" (gourd for carrying milk)

Monday, 16 January 2012

What's Cookin' on the Roof?

I've just had rather a shock! The telephone man came to fix our phone line, thus here we are back online, but this isn't the shock, although it could be as we only asked him to come on Saturday and we didn't mention any granny turning one hundred! But no, I was in the kitchen making an ordinary supper when I heard the girls shrieking, "MUM! Come here!" After realising it was a fun shriek and not bad news shriek, I said I was busy making supper. But they were insistent that I come to the rabbit hutch. So I did, but couldn't see them. Upon asking where they were, I heard their little voices coming from above, "we're up here!" To my horror, there they were prancing about on top of the upper roof! "The telephone man got us up here!" And so he had. He was there with them, his mate below tossing pliers up to him (thankfully just missing Louisa's head!) While I nervously shouted up to them not to move and to stay away from the edge etc. etc. .... he had them helping him clip and twist the wires! Oh my goodness, if this were British Telecom in England! Can you imagine what Canadian health and safety officials would make of this? Unbeknownst to mother, telephone engineer takes her 5 and 8 year old kids up on the roof to snip wires. But all was well and the two guys (who we do seem to know very well now after all the times they have had to come out!) got them carefully and safely down with only one squeal from Louisa, whom I thought until now was terrified of heights! Maybe she's cured now! And my heart rate has slowed down again now, too.

Fixing the phone line in the heights above!
We had a fun and busy weekend with Amisadai's birrthday party on Friday night and a wedding on Saturday. For Amisadai's birthday we enjoyed hot chili around a bonfire on which we roasted hot dogs, potatoes, doughboys and marshmallows (Laura's treat from Canada!). And then ate the girls' gingerbread house. It was good fun with Laura and the Galvins and the Sharpes.
Roasting marshmallows with the Galvin girls!
On Saturday it was the wedding of Mama Marian, whom some of you will know as she has worked for EI for many years. She looked beautiful and very happy! And for a small wedding that originally was not going to have a party to follow, with over 100 people eating and celebrating, it was actually quite the party!

Today, Tim and Amisadai went with Andy and Dan and three workers to a village about 70km away called Ikuka. Andy is currently doing a water project at the school and they have asked us about building a fuel-efficient institutional stove and it could be possible that we do a stoves project there in the future. They then went on to see a Compassion project operated by the KLPT Church in Ilula. They met with a number of the teachers and children, including some of the children who are sponsored by our home church in Tadley. It was great to see the difference that is being made in the lives of these very poor children.

The latrine pit being dug at Ikuka school

Compassion Children (some of them!)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

What's Cookin' in Cooking Classes?

Memories of grade 8-10 Home Ec. cooking classes with Mrs Harris come flooding back along with memories of playing "TV chefs" with my sister! Now here I am living it out in an African village! Actually, Lucy did the hard work, I was just the assistant! It was the first time we had taken Lucy to the village and she did a super job giving lessons on making bread and chapatis. And it was wonderful having her help with all the domestic chores as well! The women really enjoyed gathering outside our house, writing notes on how to make bread and chapatis. While the bread cooked, we ate chapatis and read together. We are hoping to carry on the reading work that Mama Masawa started, and this was a small way of encouraging it. We read John 6 in the new Swahili Bibles together about Jesus, the Bread of Life. "Do not work for food that spoils, but for the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you." 

Mkate (Bread)
We are hoping Lucy will come and teach again ... it was funny how the women asked me to teach them how to make chapatis when I had never made them before coming to Africa! Lucy is far better qualified! But they have asked me if next time I could give lessons in making cakes for weddings and special occasions! This will be fun on the jiko (I plan to practice at bit at home first!). Also Tim had some men over today, and after trying some banana loaf, they are very keen for their wives to come for a lesson on that too. So I will work on adapting some recipes to work with what is available in the village and we'll have a go. You never know, it could be an income generating project in the village ... the first Magozi bakery or teashop!

Chapati lessons

Reading together!
This is the great thing about living here, you just never know what will happen next ... and the opportunities are endless! The one opportunity I'm not so keen on, is as the first-aider! As most of you know, I am definitely NOT a nurse, cooking is one thing, nursing quite another! But I have a good first aid kit, and this time wasn't the first time someone with an injury has come to me! Our neighbor sliced the top off her toe with a hand hoe in the fields ... eeks! But it is cleaned and treated and bandaged and I hope she will get to a clinic to check it out if it is getting infected ... keeping wounds clean is incredibly hard. It is hard not being able to do more or give more in the way of bandages and antiseptic ... one guy was badly hurt from a bike accident, and I had to say no to anything, as we knew if I tried anything to patch him up, he wouldn't go to the clinic to get the care he really needed.

 Before we went to Magozi, I enjoyed celebrating my second Tanzanian birthday! Tim and I enjoyed a meal out at Sai Villa while the girls had a blast sleeping over at Andy and Angela's! And then we had a little tea party the night before we left which was lovely!
Birthday Curry at Sai Villa
Birthday Tea
The other event of the birthday was the arrival of another Daddy Pig (the other one we borrowed had to leave after a short time as he was sold by the owner). Hopefully piglets will soon be on the way! It was all rather interesting trying to get him in the pen, while Lulu escaped and all the time trying to hold on to a chicken which arrived with the pig; this was a live New Year's present, now cooked and frozen!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Gold Prospectors and German Loot

A Tanzanian New Year saw us and Andy and Angela sitting outside our beach banda by citronella candlelight, well covered with DEET, with some English party poppers and some fizzy drink! In true African style the power had gone out ... we had been squeezed inside with our little light as the heavens opened earlier in the evening! With great effort Angela and I managed to keep Andy and Tim up and awake with games of Pass the Pigs, Chicken and cards! All good fun and a happy start to the New Year!

The "early" party poppers!
Happy New Year!
We enjoyed a very relaxing few days at Lake Nyasa with the Sharpes. It was really too hot to do much of anything during the heat of the day, so we enjoyed lots of reading and games. And the lake was lovely at both ends of the day for a swim and some water balloon fun (except for paranoid Louisa who screamed in protest as the balloons might be forever lost!) Amisadai loved trying out Andy's snorkel and for a good deal of the time all we could see was her bottom!

Our first full day at the beach was Amisdai's 8th birthday! We had brought a cake and candles and plenty of balloons - including some really cool LED light-up balloons from Mama and Papa in Canada which lit the evening dinner table festively! She opened some lovely presents, mostly from the super grandparents who planned very well ahead!

After our time at the Lake, we went exploring for the last two days. First a volcanic crater lake full of German coins and treasures! Just above the lake are the remains of an old German military post and when British forces were pursuing the Germans in the First World War, before evacuating the post, the Germans threw their valuables in the lake rather than let the Brits get their hands on it. But approaching the lake confidently, Amisadai said "these Brits will!" The coins are still being found and the girls enjoyed treasure hunting with the snorkel. Unfortunately they were unsuccessful, but a young guy did show us his find; a 1910 German coin!
It's just another shell!
Our second exploration was to the Daraja la Mungu (Bridge of God). This fascinating geological sight is a natural bridge over the Kiwera River, cut out of a lava flow overlying the metamorphic rocks. We crossed over it on foot and made a good study of the different rocks around for our upcoming study unit on rocks!

Crossing over the Bridge
After a night's sleep in Mbeya we finished our explorations with some gold prospecting! We drove up an amazingly scenic road to one of the highest points of all Tanzanian main roads. The view was spectacular and its location as the center of the great "Lupa" goldrush of the 1920' and 30's was very exciting for the girls! Apparently there is still some small scale mining and prospecting done today and we found some deeply dug holes scattered about so the girls were in to check them out. Alas, unsuccessful again! The last time we went panning for gold was at Fort Langley in Canada. I think we have another history study unit developing...

Cool pumice stone, but no gold!

Happy New Year to you all!