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

Monday, 25 February 2013

"The Place That Sends You Mad"

If you have read the recent blog entry of the Driving License Saga, you must see this Asterix clip about "The Place That Sends You Mad!" What a laugh! Yes, it reminds me of TRA offices and yes, I did go slightly mad! Thanks for the link, Linda!  


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Swimming to Magozi and Tea Research

After a night of noisy, heavy rain, we set off (with Jesca) at 7:30am on Wednesday for Pawaga. The road was much as we expected, very wet and muddy! We did a little slipping and sliding and had some great splashes, but the best bit for the girls was as we came into Magozi and the road disappeared! It was as if a river was coming in and across from the side and in we plunged. And then, a little further on, it happened again. The Great Land Cruiser heroically met the challenge and brought us safely into Magozi, albeit a little wetter and muddier than when the journey began!
The road to Magozi
We picked up Mendriad and Ezekiel in Magozi and took them on with us to Kimande where we met the new pastor of the Anglican Church, Pastor Castory and his family. He has just taken over from the retired pastor while we were in the UK. It was great to meet him and chat about the stoves project and the possibility of our moving into the village. We were served heaped platefuls of rice and lovely hot chai as we chatted.
We went on with him to meet with Pastor Joseph, pastor of the Pentecostal Church in the very close village of Itunundu. We know him and his wife, Grace fairly well now and it was good see them again. They were able to meet Pastor Castory and we talked about working together as churches to help their joint community. We were also given more heaped platefuls of rice with beans and more lovely hot chai!
We then drove back to Magozi to drop off Mendriad and Ezekiel (it had been so great having them along with us). And then to our surprise, Mendriad's wife invited us in for yet another heaped plateful of rice with sauce and lovely hot chai! I was able to have a cuddle with Mendriad's new baby girl. She is already almost a month old, but they are still looking for a name and asked Amisadai for "English" suggestions! They said that they couldn't use the name "Amisadai" because there were already one or two of them in the village now! So Amisadai gave them some suggestions of good names. We then set off for home (on much drier roads now) feeling rather full. And when Tim asked what was for dinner, I replied, "rice and beans."
And on the subject of food, we have really enjoyed some grilled halloumi cheese on toast! Really very yummy! I am quite excited about it and continue to really love this whole cheese adventure! I then made some much improved cream cheese which, when mixed with herbs and garlic, we enjoyed as a dip and with cucumber in sandwiches. 
Halloumi on Toast
Herbed Halloumi Cheese

Tim had a visit to Furahia, a village where Andy is currently working on a rainwater harvesting project. They are interested in having a stoves project, particularly as it is an area with little firewood. Tim met with the pastor there to discuss the possibility so that is exciting! 

Tim joins Andy's Bible Study with the project workers

And finally, we have just returned from a really lovely time in the Mufindi Tea Estates with Andy and Angela. We left on Saturday morning and stayed for one night in a cheap and cheerful hut with an amazing veranda view! We enjoyed playing badminton, table tennis and card games amongst other things. We enjoyed a picnic by a lovely lake. It is a really beautiful spot, acres and acres of vibrantly green tea plants, with small dams and lakes and walks with amazing views. Good food and good times and very relaxing! We are already planning a return for a school field trip on "tea" - with all these plantations and factories to explore, I think a new topic is waiting to be researched! And we're all up for some tea research!

Tea fields

Picnic Lunch

Monday, 18 February 2013

Saga of the License

The Saga of the Driving License. An epic experience. An organizational fiasco of fantastic proportions. This saga is actually nothing particularly unusual here and a fairly tame account compared to the experiences of many others, but herein begins my account of trying to obtain a Tanzanian driving license. We had planned to leave at 8:30am, leaving the girls with a detailed schedule of schoolwork to accomplish in the teacher's absence. Due to unforeseen reasons, we were delayed an hour. Now before I begin, take a moment to appreciate the wonder and luxury of online (or even postal) forms and online payment.

Tim and I arrived at the Tanzanian Revenue Authority (TRA). Tim embarked on his (straightforward)task of getting a new car tax disc. I began at Reception and was then directed upstairs to Room 120. I was given a form to fill out and sent to Room 113 for photocopying. I returned to Room 120 with copy and was sent to Room 106. Here my form was copied into the computer and I was given a number. This number I took back to reception. I was then sent with my number to Room 6 where I waited for my turn to be fingerprinted and photographed. After that I was told to wait. Some time later I was called back to the desk and given instructions to go to the bank with another form (I now have a small handful of papers) to pay Tsh 10,000 into the TRA account. At this point I noticed that my form was for a Provisional (3 month learner's license), but when I questioned this, the man assured me not to worry, that I would actually get a full license. OK. So it was a five minute walk to the bank. Now Tim was with me, so we took turns waiting in the bank line while I went to withdraw money from the ATM, while he went to get my passport stamped at Immigration in the next building and then while I went to buy mangos down the road. It was a long line.

Then we traipsed back the TRA office. I went back to Room 6 where I was told I would have to wait over an hour until the computers cleared the payment. We decided to go home for some lunch to pass the time.

I returned alone after lunch to Room 6. Now I realize that I have actually got a provisional license. But I am assured that it is all part of the procedure. One cannot get a full license without first getting a learner license. Even if just for an hour or so. So then I was told I need to pay another Tsh 3000 (the fee for a driving test, which of course is a necessary part of obtaining a license, only I didn't actually have to take the test, just pay for it). So it was another walk to the bank. And another long wait in line (but by myself this time, so no mangos). And it was during this standing half hour that I reflected on how my respect for "The Line" runs so deep. If there is a Line, one does not form a separate line but goes to the end of The Line. One does not budge into The Line. And one does not crowd another person in The Line. But as I stood there watching others squeeze in front of me, I was forced to relinquish my "personal space" in front, even as the person behind me had their phone pressed into my spine to check her messages. Just smile and wait.

When I had paid for my test at the bank, I walked back to TRA and was stopped at Reception. I said that I was getting my license. He said something about the police. A little confused, I said (in Swahili), no, I didn't need a policeman, just a driving license. He told me to go to Room 6. There was now quite a crowd in Room 6. Finally, I showed my bank receipt to the official at the desk and asked for a full license. "Ahh ... but for that you must go to 'Trafiki.'" Now I had been told earlier that the trafiki office was in this TRA building, but at this point I realise that the answer given was only the answer that they thought I wanted to hear. Well, yes, I did want to hear that the office was here, but not if it wasn't. And it wasn't. I had to go back, back past the bank and five minutes on. So I went to find the trafiki office which as it happens is in the Police station. (Aha! Now I understand the polisi conversation at reception!) So round the back I went, as prisoners were being taken past me and locked up behind the bars back there. I didn't get locked up, but I didn't get my form. The trafiki officer there said it would be five hours before the money had cleared (now we are talking about £1.30 here and at this point I would have gladly given him another £1.30 to get out of there). But it was now 4pm and he said come back at 8am the next day. So I did.

Now at this point, I thought all I had to do was pick up my form, go to pay another fee at the bank and return to TRA for the license. I was optimistic for an hour and half and then school with the girls could resume. But after an hour and half, I was still sitting in the back of the police station waiting for the man with the key to arrive. I asked so many policemen if they could unlock the door or find another copy of my form. But it was always "subiri" (wait!).  Finally at 10am, I asked specifically where the man was and discovered he was on traffic duty at the dala dala station (local bus depot). So I went to find him, to politely demand my form. I found other policemen and asked them where he was. They took me on to the big bus station. No success, but I got the name of a senior policeman to talk to. So I returned to the police station intent on finding Stephano to help me. He was coming ... I waited. And waited. A policeman suggested I go to TRA for a form (which I could have done 3 hours ago, I now think). So I marched back to TRA insisting they must have a copy of this form for me. Without going into all the details here, I was eventually given a form and filled it out. 11am. Then wouldn't you believe it, I had to go back to that police station with my form. More waiting in the back. More stamps and signatures. More slips of paper. Then a dramatic exit with an entourage of prisoners coming out with guards waving sticks and carrying guns (with me in the middle as I was too frustrated and upset at this point even to notice I was in the middle of something) being loaded onto a guarded truck. No, I didn't end up on the guarded truck. I marched back to TRA Room 6 with my signed form. And then back to the bank to line up again to pay another fee, (this time for my full license). Back to TRA. Room 6. Hungry and exhausted, I was then told to return the next day to pick up the license. Hungry and exhausted, I went home. Without my license.

In the two days all I seem to have done is paid Tsh 53,000 (in three transactions) and filled out two forms (both with the same information and one for a license I didn't need anyway!) And walked countless times back and forth between TRA, the bank and the police station, all the while picking up slips of paper, blue and pink, and various stamps and signatures! Oh, for an online form and pay by credit card button!

Today: Result! I have just picked up my Tanzanian Driving License! So thankful to be at the end of this story!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Pizza with Cheese and Bellbottoms

The cheese-making was, I think, a pretty good first attempt! We all enjoyed a pizza treat with the homemade mozzarella. And then with the ricotta cheese made from the discarded whey, we had roasted ricotta aubergines! The texture of the ricotta wasn't quite right, but we'll work on it! We are planning to try halloumi this week, so I'll be sure to let you know how that one goes! I just think it is so exciting, being able to make cheese! Lucy too, is enjoying the challenge and I do hope we can pull this off and she can actually start making it to sell! And I should just note, that with the milk demand increasing, I can't deny a strong urge to get myself some cows!


Roasted Aubergine (eggplant) with Ricotta
Tim and Amisadai went to Magozi this week, while Louisa and I did just Year 2 work together. Tim and Amisadai took with them Jesca, a Tanzanian student, who is working with EI for a month. She has worked with us before, and is a brilliant help! We are hoping get her on staff when she finishes her studies. They also took Lexa, a potter from the UK who is helping at Neema Crafts for two months. She came along to see the project and offer some experienced advice on our clay.

It was great this weekend to Skype with everyone at the EI conference in the UK! The team gathered at Andy and Angela's house for pancakes (making up for the fact that we forgot it was Shrove Tuesday this week!) And then internet and power cooperated and we were able to see and communicate and pray with the group there.

And then we donned our 60's clothes, from rummaging in the second-hand clothes market in town. Friends were turning 40 and organized a huge Iringa-wide birthday party, so we were off to join in the fun! Go flower power bellbottoms!

Monday, 11 February 2013

King David, the Vikings, Miss Muffet and I

What do King David, the Vikings, Little Miss Muffet and I have in common?
Answer: Cheese!

Rennet at the ready

I am loving this cheese adventure! And combining this latest learning craze into the school curriculum is working well. Quite clearly cheese-making is a science... as the natural bacteria in milk (lactobacillus) reacts with the lactose in the milk it releases lactic acid which will coagulate or set some of the protein in the milk. This makes it insoluable in water and causes the water to separate from the solids. Okay this needs a little simplifying for Year 2, but there is still the scientific knowledge gleaned by hands-on practice!

In Bible we learnt that David the shepherd boy took ten cheeses to his brothers when he went to fight Goliath (I Sam 17:18) and Job asks of God if he didn't pour him out like milk and and curdle him like cheese (Job 10:8-12). (Not sure exactly what he means by this yet!) In History, we learn that our cheese-making today is much as it was in the time of the Roman Empire. As Roman legions travelled around, they took with them different recipes and skills of cheese-making and established the cheese trade. Then we find the monks. These scholars, working in the monasteries before the Viking invasions were also skilled cheesemakers (from them, we still have Wensleydale cheese today). Then the Vikings brought with them their own Scandinavian cheese-making recipes and techniques (we are going to try Norwegian brunost next week). And this is only scratching the surface of the amazing history of cheese! In Maths tomorrow we are going to weigh our cheeses and see just how much cheese we got from our litres of milk. And if we are to sell our cheese, how much should we sell it for to make a profit? As well we are fastidiously measuring the temperature at various stages of cheese-making with the great thermometer that Gudrun gave us. And then of course there is Little Miss Muffet and the literary narrative of nursery rhymes!

So after previously trying cottage cheese and cream cheese, today with Mama Lucy, we branched out into the mozzarella world. A bit more of an art, or so it seems on the first attempt! But I have to say it is rather fun trying and very satisfying! And hopefully it will be all the more satisfying tomorrow when we have the treat of cheese on pizza! I've also just now tried my first ricotta cheese using the whey from the mozzarella. However, this seems to have been a long job with a poor, rather minimal result. But we'll try again, anywhey.

So thank you very much to good friends who have helped with the gift of cheese-making books and equipment and of course Gudrun for the lessons and advice!  Next cheese: Halloumi ...

Separating the curds and whey

Ahh! It's hot!

Deep in concentration! What next??

Mozzarella Cheese!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Rats, Jikos and a Fat Mama

Woken in the middle of the night to the sounds of a stick being whacked about in the house, I peer in the moonlight to discover what is going on. It is Tim hunting down a rat with a broom in the kitchen. WHACK! He missed. Two hours later, he was at it again! These huge and determined rats had decided as soon as I set up the cupboard with food last weekend, they would invade. So now, out come the traps and poison. Food is hidden away in boxes and coolers and even things hidden in the oven! The rats had eaten their way through a trap door in the kitchen ceiling, so Tim fixed up a stronger wooden door. But then the following morning after the escapades of the night, the rats had gnawed their way through a ceiling board in the living room!

On a brighter, happier note, it was wonderful being back in Magozi on Wednesday. We were so kindly and warmly welcomed by the stoves group and many others in the village. To my delighted surprise, we were served bread, freshly baked for us on a fuel-efficient stove! As well as morning chai with Kalista, we were also served two lunches, one with Yuda and Lucy and another with Ezekiel and Bora, one right after the other! Feeling rather full, I then felt I was living up to the "compliment" I received many times that day, "Mama Lecho, you are so much more fat now!" It really is a compliment here in Tanzania ... does wonders for your self-esteem! I blame the English cheese and chocolate!

Lunch One

Lunch Two
It was then so moving to be back seated in our group "circle" in the church building, praying together our thanks for being together again. After the Bible study, we talked through how the work has been going. They are proud of the stoves which are very positively received, and pleased with their profits. The group recognises that they need to get out and sell more stoves, and we talked about using bikes with tomato crates to transport stoves. We will be doing a marketing session in two weeks to look further at the way forward with selling. They also talked about the need to improve the house they use to work in, but they are keen to overcome the problems and we were encouraged!

Bible Study

Making stoves

We took Toni with us, a gap-year student pursuing photography. She is here for five weeks, and has been going out to various villages photographing the work EI is involved in. And it was great to have her with us to take photos in Magozi. The group demonstrated to her how to make a stove and she was shown Kalista's garden and the trees which were planted last June. We were delighted to see how Kalista has persevered with her garden, and has finally enjoyed the fruit of all her efforts. We still have a long way to go trying to beat the pests though! We were also thrilled to see the size of the trees which are growing really well! So we with them, give glory to God for His goodness!
(Is. 42:12)

Ezekiel with his tree