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

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Tim's Classes, Metal Molds and Little Trees

We've been Iringa-based these past few weeks as our Magozi friends are all busy, focused on getting their harvest in. But Magozi came to us and it was nice to be able to have Ezekiel stay with us when he came into town to buy some large sacks for his rice. He came back a week later for a less happy reason with his wife, Bora to bring their baby girl, Lightness, who was sick, to the clinic here.
Lightness playing with Louisa's doll

The new molds and cut-outs for the "door"
We are waiting to hear how the recent firing of the stoves went last night. We hope firstly, that it actually happened, and we hope that the new Magozi clay has come out tops! Tim has taken a few trips out to a metal workshop run by the Catholic Fathers to order and collect eight new molds for the stoves. The Magozi group wanted three more and five are for the new projects. While Ezekiel was with us, he helped us out by making a test stove out of the new clay from Ikuka. This seems excellent clay which is very promising for a potential Ikuka group! Unfortunately the clay we got from Itunundu was not even good enough to attempt a stove! But we will go back to find better clay from a different spot ... we keep looking!
Ten tree seedlings

The other good news is that we have found and bought our first seedlings! Just ten little trees  that we have learned are ideal for growing in hot, dry places like Pawaga and in time will good for firewood. We will grow them up a little bit at home in Iringa and in a few weeks take them to Magozi and find opportunities to talk about the importance of replanting trees. We will work with the kitchen garden families to plant them and make sure they are able to care for them. This is just a very small beginning of something that we would like to grow into something bigger. As well as "kuni" (firewood) trees, it would be lovely to sit under trees for shade and eat fruit from trees growing in the village in eight to ten years time!

Tim has been teaching this week at Bethel Bible College in Mafinga (about 80km from Iringa). He enjoyed starting the six-week Swahili course on "Introduction to Mission," with keen and attentive students. Due to the cancellation of the first class last week, he stayed overnight and taught the second week's class the following day. It gave him the opportunity to spend time with the College Principal, visit a new church plant and experience what cold means in Tanzania. Fortunately, they brought a charcoal stove in the house just for his benefit!

He has also spent some time, along with Andrew, at a week's conference in Iringa hosted by the Anglican Church aimed at equipping leaders for holistic transformation of society. The content was great, although a little hard to follow in Swahili, but he was grateful for a participants workbook in English!

I have run out of steam a bit this week, busy with various things, tired of nightly planning and teaching with lots of distractions and a little fed up with the water (or lack of!) situation! But the water is back on now and we have had some fun with friends and yesterday enjoyed chocolate brownies out as a school reward treat! The girls especially have enjoyed some time to play with friends which hasn't happened so much recently! We had an Iringa Community Day last Sunday which was a day for expats to talk through issues of safety and security and other "community" things. So we learnt all about snakes and what to do in other emergencies of various kinds, be it on the road, medical or break-ins. It is good to be aware of the potential dangers and be prepared best we can and know who we can contact in case of an incident. The girls enjoyed playing with all the kids while the adults met together.

And now we are looking forward to having Phil and Helen Norris with us this week! They have arrived in Dar-es-Salaam and had a good time with Victory Christian Centre this morning. They arrive on the bus tomorrow evening!
Two silly girls!


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

BEING. Fresh Buns, Young Plants and New Projects

It has been good being in Magozi. We have been “being” and not “doing” which from a very Western way of thinking can sometimes be a bit frustrating. So often we want to get the job done,  to see the result, meet the goal … now! But here in Tanzania we have a good opportunity to remember to “be”, without worrying about our own “agenda” or quest to the finish, but following the Leader and enjoying the journey! Without all the stoves work going on in Magozi at the moment because of the harvesting season, we just were just “being” there. As well as a little threshing (which you read about in the last blog), we were meeting with people, practicing Kihehe, the local language (with no great success!) and making the most of opportunities that come up. There are still ladies coming to me wanting to learn how to make bread, and with time on our hands this week, I made my first jiko bread rolls. They were yummy and there will have to be more lessons next time!
Fresh rolls ready!

We visited the gardens that the Canada team started, and although there are some disappointments, we must be encouraged overall as Mama Juliana’s garden is doing very well, the secondary school carrots are doing very well, and the garden that failed initially, is now starting again very well. We are experimenting with some natural pesticides of chilli peppers, garlic (and will try urine if we get desperate) to keep the unwanted bugs away.  This garden idea is taking root, and that is encouraging!
Carrots at the Secondary School
Mama Juliana's tomatoes
 We visited a very small Pentecostal church in a village called Itunundu about 16km on from Magozi. This village, even hotter and drier than Magozi, is where we would like to plan to do the next stoves project. After Tim had preached, two of the Magozi stove group members, Ezekiel and Mendriad spoke about the project and its benefits. We had stopped on the way to talk about the project with the leaders from a nearby Anglican Church who we would like to work with as well. The Anglicans did have a church which was meeting in Itunundu … until the banda fell down and then their small group joined others in the neighbouring village of Kimande! We are excited, as are those in the two villages, about the potential and hope to start when we come back in January. Please do take a look at the projects page at the top of the blog to see how you (or maybe a group you know) can help with getting this project off the ground. We do need some funding, and we would also love to be able to employ someone locally and need funding for a salary, so please let us or Emmanuel International know if you can help in any way at all! 
The Church in Itunundu

Monday, 14 May 2012

Threshing Lessons

Threshing is thoroughly therapeutic … is what I want to say for purely alliterative purposes, but actually it is just exhausting.  Slow, back-breaking hard labour in one very hot field. We went out to thresh the rice; it is what the whole village is doing now from dawn till dusk and many during the night hours as well. Many are sleeping in their fields, couples leaving children with bibi (grandma) and spending every waking and sleeping hour with the rice. It is an important time as the livelihood of a family for the coming year depends on this harvest. One plot could yield 20 large sacks of rice, one of which might sell for 90 000 shillings (£40). This is the years’ earnings in one fail swoop. 
Rice plants ready to cut
The rice plants are cut with a machete from the field, sometimes waist-deep in water and then laid out on dry ground in piles on large sacks sewn together to make a “floor.” The bundles of the long plants are then beaten on the sacks to shake out all the mpunga (unmilled rice) The unmilled grains are gathered up and carried back to the village and laid out on the ground to dry for 3 days. Then huge sacks are filled, ready to sell or store for the year. Some will be reserved to plant for the next season to yield 30-fold! 

We went to thresh with Ezekiel who is working on his fathers field with his brother-in-law before doing his own plot. I was tired by the time we got to his plot in the rice fields!  It was a long walk in the hot sun through muddy fields and on the slippery raised pathways between the fields. The piles of rice plants ready to thresh look daunting and the amount of rice coming from each mighty thwack is rather disheartening.  We didn’t last very long; feeling rather more in the way than helpful, we left them to it! Meanwhile they stayed at it; and there is such as lesson in that! One grain of rice is such a very, very small thing. But that is where it all starts. Grain by grain, bundle by bundle, the pile of rice grows slowly. A bucketful, a sackful, a harvest.


We also had a lesson from Bibi on how to make a bamboo “slingshot” of sorts with which to shoot the birds that come after the seed. The girls are now keen on practicing their shot (best to stay clear!) Back in the village, Tim and the girls later helped our neighbour fill his sacks – no small task! Barefoot, bare-legged and bare-armed, the girls were happily right in the unhusked rice shovelling bucketfuls. But when all was done, they were not so happy! They were both scratching themselves silly, hopping and crying with the awful itching (rice husks seem to be similar to fibreglass!) I threw them, wailing, into a bucket of water in the outhouse!
Filling the sacks

The outer husk is removed at the milling machine
The man we helped, very kindly gave us a bucketful of rice for our help. So we took it to the “mill,” a man nearby who runs a machine to mill the corn and rice. For 200 shillings (9p), in it went and then out it came as good old familiar rice. What a labour-intensive process! It surely does make you appreciate a cup of rice. I realized again how we take so much for granted, so much is just easily available for our personal convenience. And we expect it to be so. What we experienced was not convenient and was certainly not easy. But what we did experience was appreciation, appreciation for the simplest things. Appreciation for friends and family working together, sharing, helping, laughing.  Appreciation for a cup of rice.

The field left after the rice plants are harvested

Monday, 7 May 2012

Two Pairs of Glasses

Two more pairs of glasses. It doesn't sound like much, but it certainly meant a lot to Mama Rehema and Mama Juliana! Now able to see clearly and read their Bibles, they are two happy ladies and it was lovely to see!

Thoughts about eyes are running away with me at the moment.
Seeing clearly. Eyes to read and eyes to learn. Eyes to see. 
Blurred vision, damaged eyes, red eyes, smoke and witchcraft.
The blind will see.
... And with a handful of carrots, I think this may be another blog!

As well as bringing the two ladies back from Magozi, Tim also brought another woman, a male teacher and a student, all in the little red pickup with no suspension! And yes, you guessed it, they got a puncture!

New glasses for Mama Juliana (left) and Mama Rehema (right)
While in Magozi, Tim "helped" in the rice fields, threshing the rice, much to the amusement of the locals! Not much was happening in the stoves group, but Tim was able to talk to some members of the group about planning and increased production for a large agricultural fair close by in July.
Threshing the rice
Meanwhile, here in Iringa, the girls and I have been enjoying volcanoes, crystals, magnets and underground railroad stories. We worked hard last week and so will be able to go to Magozi this week for four days. While there we will do a little study of constellations (the night sky in Magozi is absolutely breathtaking)... but will we see the "drinking gourd" (Big Dipper)? And school then aside, we will be able to visit the gardens (experimenting with some natural pesticides to keep the "wadudu" away) and do some cooking and visiting!

Tim and the girls went to buy wood to fix the pigpen
after one little piggy got its head stuck trying to escape!