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

Thursday, 30 August 2012

"Doctor" Tim and a Tanzanian Departure

Our last day in Iringa was rewardingly typically Tanzanian! We grow to love (in a way) these unexpected, random events that make us wonder how we ended up where we are!  This time Tim ended up in the maternity ward in Iringa Hospital in doctor's garb, being proudly introduced to staff and patients on the ward as the new doctor from Dar es Salaam! How, you may ask, when one is just expecting to be packing to leave the following day, does this happen? It all began at 8:15am while we were eating our breakfast, that we had a call to say that Ezekiel had arrived on the bus from Magozi and could we pick him up. So a little later, we were all in town, and there was his brother-in-law (although we didn't realise that at the time) whose wife (Ezekiel's sister) was in labour in the hospital. But we didn't realise it was labour at the time as pregnancy and labour is not public discussion here So all we knew was that she was sick. While we ran some errands in town, Ezekiel and Ndondole went to visit her and came back reporting that she was very, very ill (we thought she was dying and were suitably distressed and sympathetic) but 30 minutes later, Ezekiel received a phone call announcing that his sister has given birth to a baby girl! I guess in labour one does seem "very, very ill!"

"Doctor" Tim
We all went home for some chai (not sure at this point what anyone's plans were ... and how many would need food and lodging for the night). Later, after some lunch in the midst of clearing and packing up the contents of the house, another visit was made to the hospital to see the new baby. All were keen to see the new baby, but the nurse looked past the new father (we realised now that he was the father), the brother, Amisadai and Louisa, and turned to Tim saying "only you can come in!" And this was how Tim ended up in a doctor's coat introduced as the new doctor from Dar es Salaam. Tim protested to the nurse that he wasn't a doctor but was assured that didn't matter. He met the new mother, her firstborn and her mother. He became the official photographer. And then he left. The whole group then left the hospital, no others were allowed to enter, but were quite satisfied to see the photos! To finish the story, we were also asked to name this precious baby with an "English" name. As the safe delivery came at the end of a difficult pregnancy, we suggested "Joy" which was happily given. We pray this little girl will continue to be a source of joy to many as she grows up!

Baby Joy
Ezekiel left with us early the next morning for Dar, without meeting his new niece. But the new father was able to meet his daughter that same evening.

We arrived safely in Dar-es-Salaam, after a lovely stop in Morogoro with Matt and Amy, and after minor meetings with a bolting impala and then a guinea fowl in Mikumi Game Park! The guinea fowl ended up caught in the roof-rack and with it flapping and the bus behind us honking and flashing, we continued until we were out of the game park to pull over and investigate. The guinea fowl was almost if not completely dead and rather a sight on the roof of the car. But as we just looked at it wondering how to disentangle it, the bus behind pulled over and guys jumped out and ran over to climb up and remove it. They happily carried it back to the bus and continued on their way, lunch ready!
Guinea Fowl Prize
We then had five days in Dar-es-Salaam. We had medical check-ups done on Friday. We failed at the "synchronised pooing" at 11am! Later, Louisa did the most expensive poo at a whopping $45 US but that's another story!

We had a lovely last Sunday at Victory Christian Centre and a great time with the Nkone family, particularly as we went with them Monday-Tuesday to Kipepeo Beach.

And now, to finish this rather long account of our activities, we find ourselves in a rather wet and cold England. But happy and feeling very welcomed! Keith and Pat were at the airport with Tim's parents, with flowers and chocolate ice creams and pressies for the girls. And Tim's mum and dad have welcomed us into their house with lots of special treatment!

We are looking forward to catching up with lots of you in the area!
On British soil again!

Friday, 17 August 2012

My Life as a Butcher

Sorry, it's another pig story! But I must tell it!

Today, after two days of grace, Lulu bravely faced her end. As Amisadai said, she was bonked on the head. And then she knew no more, nothing of the slit throat (I'll spare you the details) or the apprehensive butcher nervously trying to tie off the rectum or the two girls giggling at the wee squirting out of the bladder. The girls coped fine, and eased the pain of losing Lulu by roasting some previously rationed marshmallows on the fire that boiled the water. A little surreal roasting marshmallows by a beheaded pig, but we are getting accustomed to strange experiences.
Roasting marshmallows
We had Edge (Swahili-spelt phonetically, but pronounced Edgar) to do the dreaded deed and help with butchering, but I think he was used to the slaughtering more than the butchering. I had to work hard to convince him to hang Lulu in the tree by her back legs so the blood drained out and not the other way around. But that was nothing like the hard work actually getting her hung up there! Whew!
Finally hung and examining the innards

We managed to get all the vital organs out without disaster. Another biology lesson. And yes, we saved the bladder to blow up for a game of catch! Edge sawed the pig in half very ably. But then all my studies of the diagrams and photos of Greg butchering seemed to fly out the window, and I lost my way a little in the search for recognisably British joints. Trotters off. Legs off. That was fine, but then trying to pull back the ribs and find the chops all became a little trickier. As for cutting out the blade bone ... made a pig's ear of that. In the end, with Edge, it all got chopped up and put in pots and buckets. Dirty and bloodied, my work then began in the kitchen, and it took all day! So much pig and what to do with it! It is now all sorted into legs, a fairly acceptable rolled joint, and the rest chopped, sliced or minced. Then there is the liver and kidneys and lots of fat and bones. Well and truly butchered.

So at the end of the day, exhausted and just a little stressed, with hands stained red from blood (and purple from an incident with a purple dye yesterday which is another story altogether) and clothes filthy with blood and guts, all I wanted was to get the mess cleared up and have a shower. But to my total dismay, the water had gone off. The shower was not to be. I had to strain the ants out of the rain water bucket and use a jug.

So that is the end of my butchering day (which began far too early at 6am!). Tim manged to miss the whole event as he was in a village 90 miles away with Andrew and Andy ... but he was dutiably impressed with my efforts when he returned! I am gutted I didn't do a better job, but keen to have butchering lessons when we get to England ... as well as hair-dressing (as long as I don't confuse the two).
The first half (before it got messy!)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Woven into Something Beautiful

In Magozi last week, I was practising my mkeka-making skills. Long khambas (like rushes) are woven into strips which are sewn together into mats. I brought dye powder with me from Iringa for our friends, the evangelist and his wife, Rose. On the jiko they boiled the water in which we dyed the pale brown strips pink, purple and yellow. They were then dried in the sun before being bundled up ready to weave. About 27 strips of khamba (including a few coloured strips) are tied together and then woven in and out, It is a beautiful and simple handicraft, one that we see quite a few people in the village doing at this time of year when the harvest is in. The girls and I have enjoyed weaving strips, and have collected khambas to bring back with us so that we can do some weaving in England!

Khamba in the dye

Khambas drying in the sun

Laying out khamba to dry

Weaving the mats

Learning with a few khambas
A strip made with many khambas

Individual strands are woven together and what results is something beautiful and something useful. Sometimes there is some pulling and tugging, sometimes there is some trimming and cutting. Some strands are different, and that is what makes the uniqueness of the pattern. But if one strand is taken out, everything is misshapen and the pattern broken. If one strand becomes hard, it cracks and will break unless soaked and softened. Underneath looks messy with strands hanging out at angles as one strand ends and another enters to take its place, but on the top all is smooth with the pattern continuing and unending.
Lives intertwined, we have a Master Weaver with a master plan. We each have our place if we bend in His hands. Woven into something beautiful.

EI has just posted this video clip which is all about the school here in Ikuku where Andy and Andrew have been working on the water, sanitation and hygiene project. Take a look!


Monday, 6 August 2012

Weight in Gold

While the world was watching how fast people can swim, run or cycle, we were in a village that has no idea about Olympic racing and competing.  The thought of a deep pool of clear, clean water to jump into seems incredible when just a glass would be nice. And the thought of lifting 140kg of metal just for the sake of it seems bizarre when there are loads of 60kg sacks of rice to be lifted because you have to.  Cycling fast on smooth tracks in sleek outfits with shiny helmets also is hard to imagine when here to have a bicycle is a luxury, even more so if it has pedals. The rush of speed is unfathomable in the slow pace of life and a weight of gold to hang round your neck doesn't compare to a small coin wrapped in the knot of a woman's skirt.
Needless to say, we felt a world away from the Olympics! But we had such a special time as we finished our work in Magozi and stayed in our Magozi house for the last time. We arrived on Thursday, cake in hand, expecting the group ready for our final meeting as we “handed over” the project. But there was no chai boiling. There was no group there! We are fairly sure that no one had taken us seriously when we said this was the end of our work with the project! But I soon had water boiling on our jiko and with chai almost ready, people from the group began to appear… and then disappear only to return a while later with their Jiko shirt on! We all squashed into our little house, and as we shared our thanks and encouragement with them, and my tears began to fall, they realised this was really it!
Our last Ebenezer Jiko Magozi meeting

On Friday, we went to Kimande, the village where we will be starting the next project in January, with a few of the group members. We thought we were meeting with the leaders of the Pentecostal and Anglican churches to discuss the project, but the Pentecostals weren’t there and the Anglicans thought we were doing a seminar on fuel-efficient stoves and making cakes and bread! We thought we were starting at 9:30am, and sat and waited but when nothing was happening at 12:30pm, we thought we might just go home, but in the end we started an impromptu “seminar” on the stove at 1pm! I had made rolls on the jiko earlier and eating them for “chai” pacified the desire for bread lessons! We were home for a late lunch that day! But the Kimande pastor had found a house for us and we were able to take a look and now begin to get excited about the next step.

Back in Magozi, there were lots of goodbyes. We seem to have a lot of these which is never a fun thing, but always good evidence of love! We have felt so loved these past few days, as people took us into their homes and shared food with us and even bought us sodas. This may seems such a small and insignificant gift but you have to see their cost to realise how much it means. We felt loved, and couldn’t possibly refuse, but there is also a limit to how many sodas you can drink in an afternoon – and after three on Saturday, I was bubbled up and ready to pop!

Sunday was an emotional day with a lovely send-off! The Wingfield family and also local government officials came for the church service.  EI and ourselves were thanked for the work we have started and the group was encouraged in its work with the stoves and the church in its work as salt and light in the community. We were then overwhelmed with gifts of rice, handcrafted brooms, money, mats, wooden spoons, and khangas (Tanzanian material) with which Kalista (a lovely friend) is sewing the girls dresses! I don’t know what the cultural norm is in these situations, but I cried through it all, and there wasn’t much I could do about it! We all managed words of thanks and farewell and Tim encouraged the group that this was not the end but just the beginning. The stoves group had prepared a send-off lunch to follow and yet again, we just so appreciated all the friends and wonderful people we have met in this place.  
Receiving a huge gift of rice from the Stoves Group
Receiving the love and gifts from the church

On the last night as I killed our last scorpion under Amisadai's bed and the last cockroach in the outhouse, I appreciated how much we have learned and how much we have grown to love this place! Not so much the cockroaches and scorpions, but the love and community we have found there. People worth their weight in gold.