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

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Sweet Results

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
-- Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner

It really is late and I should be asleep, but I quickly I wanted to post an update on the honey! This evening I attempted to extract the beeswax from the crushed and squeezed honeycomb that had drained its honey. Good old Google to the rescue here!

I covered the gloop taken from the mosquito net (see the last blog post to see what that was all about!) with boiling water and let it boil away for half an hour. It smelled lovely, a bit like Christmas really, and looked a bit like mincement but the "raisins" were actually dead bees!

This is what came out of the mosquito net

Boiling it all up
I was left with what seemed rather like Honey Soup. I poured it through a teatowel (held on by bungee cords ... whatever would we do without those things?) and into a large bucket. Liquid gold, so I am told. As it cools, the wax hardens and floats on the top (I'll check this in the morning). Real beeswax! How amazing! The goo left in the tea towel really amazed me, though. I laid it out in chunks on newspaper to dry and tomorrow I will take it to the village as I read that it makes an excellent fire-starter! That will be most useful. I love it when nothing is wasted!

Straining the "liquid gold"

 Fire-starter material! Go Jiko!
And so we have our first jar of honey! We still have more honeycomb hanging in the net and before we go off to the village in the morning, Lucy and I will get that down and then we'll see how many jars there are all together (something like 5 litres, I think).

 Gangilonga Honey 

It was a sticky and time-consuming unexpected job, but there are sweet results! Maybe I need to remember this as we go off to the village tomorrow. It has seemed like lots of things have been "sticky" and time-consuming recently and with no clay, unexpected water problems here in town, a broken washing machine and a car getting stuck in town, it is easy to feel stuck down! And I know that in the village these next few weeks, at times we will feel very stuck, but the goal is sweet and that's what I want to keep in mind!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Cheese n' Bees

Cheese and honey ... and they do go together as you'll see! Remember those long-ago posts about my cheese-making adventures, way back in April/May? Well, that lovely old Gloucester and my Farmhouse Cheddar have been sitting patiently maturing since then. And now ready for the eating. Tim's parents brought us some cheese biscuits when they came in June, which made it even better. Cheese and biscuits!  I am still amazed ... it really was cheese! Even that carrot juice dye had proven itself with the hint of orange in the Gloucester! It looked like cheese, cut like cheese and really tasted like cheese. Amazing! I was prepared to be disappointed, but I really wasn't! Definitely this is something to do again, so I am delighted! My vote was for the Cheddar; the Gloucester, I thought, had perhaps a slightly acidic taste but it was pretty good really and easily delicious for cooking! I really could go on and on here .. I love this cheese adventure! Now I am convinced it is possible, I can't wait to do more! I would love to get some mature in time for Christmas!

Our cheese platter
Our other interesting project was rather unexpected on the night we arrived back from Kimande. Honey harvesting! (Louisa has written more about this on her blog ... it was a very good learning opportunity!) It wasn't great timing, but on Monday night, our night guard took the honeycomb from the hives in our garden, as he was thinking that the bees would have all the honey at this late stage. So we all traipsed to the bottom of the garden in the dark with our torches and watched as Mbwilo (wearing a mosquito net and my rubber gloves) smoked the bees out with a small fire of corn husks. He then collected all the honeycomb, loading it into buckets and brushed the combs clean with a sprig of rosemary.

Brushing the honeycomb
The next morning, there were three buckets of honeycomb to deal with. How?? Lucy and I got busy crushing the honeycomb up in the first bucket and then putting it all in a mosquito net. Yes, these nets really do come in useful ...and we do still have some on our beds! We hung the net up high and let the honey drip out into another large bucket. All day and all night. This morning, we took the net down and removed the crushed comb and bee remains and my next task is to figure out how to separate the beeswax. We've now just hung the second bucket of honeycomb to sieve. It is such a sticky, sticky job! Sticky honey all over me, up my arms, on my clothes, on my shoes and all over the floor! (This has been a really bad time for our washing machine to pack up!) And the bees! We have kept them under control with smoking areas outside. And then there are all the dead bees drowned in honey too. I guess it's not a bad way to die.

"Now, the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you're a bee. And the only reason for being a bee is to make honey, and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it."

Filling the net with honey

Watching the honey drip through!

So what do cheese and honey have to do with each other? It's brilliant, really. I can use the beeswax to coat my cheeses. At least I hope I will figure out how to do it! But in the meantime it's time for a cheese sandwich ... or perhaps some honey toast!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Prince without a Name

I'm trying to figure out how to start this post! Everything seems to be spinning a bit at the moment, and it's hard to process all that is going on! We have come back to Iringa primarily in order to pick up Jesca who now starts working with us. She is being trained to eventually, we hope, become the stoves project manager, replacing us. But there is also a lot of work to be done in the few days here before we start Training Week with the new stoves group on Monday.

It was hard-going in Kimande this past week. It is just plain tiring working so hard in the heat and I think I struggled more this time with everything being so constantly dirty - especially me! It was frustrating for various reasons. The pits had not been dug, there was no clay and despite trying every day to spur things into action, waiting for people to come and the work to start ... it still hadn't happened when we left.

The village meeting for Kimande was planned for Saturday. We toured the village on Friday, spreading the news, inviting everyone we saw to come at 12pm. But on Friday evening, due to great confusion between village leaders, the meeting was put off. It was then episodes of confusion and chaos as the meeting was changed, delayed, arranged and changed again. In the end as we had to leave midday on Monday, we had an impromptu gathering at 11am with whomever we could gather nearby the village office! The girls did a good job going round with photos of the stove, attracting attention and inviting people to come and hear about the project under the tree by the women selling tomatoes and maandazis!
Girls advertising the project and meeting!
Nothing like wazungu girls and tomatoes to draw a crowd!
I had hoped to work with Mama Esther (the pastor's wife) on our garden. We needed manure before we could do anything else and for that we needed to take our buckets further afield. I just wanted to go and get it, but waited and waited. Finally, on the second day of waiting, just when I had given up that we would ever go and I had started the fire to start cooking dinner, she said "Let's go!" We got back at 6:30pm and I was hot, so tired and filthy dirty, but there was a strange sense of actually accomplishing something, even if it was only getting cow poo after 2 days.

We were able to bring a new tap from Iringa for the water point that we use. The old one has been held together by rubber and was difficult to use, so we thought it would be a good idea to fix it. Usually there is no water in the afternoons (the water comes from an old system and is not able to supply the need of the large village), so we were waiting until the water went off to fix it. And for the first time, the water stayed on all afternoon! So we planned to do it the next afternoon. It was a major job to get the old tap off and took several people various attempts with different tools. Finally as night fell, the job was done. The water came back on in the morning, and it worked! But then the water ran out in the afternoon and stayed off ... it still hadn't come back on when we left the following afternoon. We keep a large bucket of water in the house and only once have we forgotten to fill it in the morning ... and then had to very carefully ration the water (the girls were delighted that their bath was low priority!). But seriously, we do learn here how important water is, when it is so difficult to get. It is not something to take for granted.

Fixing the broken tap
Our water "system" for water supply and hand washing

The other frustration is funny now. I had frozen some cooked cabbage in Iringa for our first dinner in Kimande, something easy to heat up without needing any preparation. But when I opened the pot to heat it up, I realised it wasn't cabbage at all. Frozen mango juice. It was frustrating to suddenly have to "rustle up" something to go on our rice at this late stage, but I thought mango juice would be a real treat with our meal the following night. So the next night when dinner was prepared, I poured the mango juice into a large cup and went to taste it to check the sweetness before I added sugar. Eghh! Not mango juice! It turned out to be pureed squash, a treat found in the Iringa market that was intended for a delicious soup in town! So then I just had to hope that it would last another day and I could make some kind of soup out of it. Well, I had a oxo cube, and still had a potato and a carrot, and it made a fine soup in the end! Just shows that freezer labels really are a good idea! My worn out marker pen scribbles on plastic clearly don't cut it!

But on a more positive note ... we ate Shepherd's Pie! I'm not sure how good it is that the highlight of my week was something as trivial as shepherd's pie, but it was even more uplifting than getting the manure! But really, it was such a treat for all of us, and Mendriad and Pastor and Mama Castory said they enjoyed it too! The word in Swahili for Pastor is the same word as for shepherd, so they found the name of the dish both amusing and appropriate! Pastor's Food. But eating one's own flock? That seemed a bit odd! I used the Wonder Pot, an amazing gift from Kathy in Langley! Sand is put in a small round dish and heated on the fire. Then the main pot (like a bundt pan) is put on the sand with a holed lid on the top. It works like an oven. As well as shepherd's pie, I cooked lemon cake and bread in it. It's wonderful! We have never had anything like shepherd's pie living in the village and it was pretty exciting. There was quite a curious crowd as I cooked it as well. Mashing up potato and putting it on the top? Very strange!

Grilling the top of the Shepherd's pie with charcoal on top
Also on a positive note, we had a good time with another church, a small Anglican church in Itunundu. They are a small group, meeting under a small shelter, and they warmly welcomed us! They have the same problem that the Itunundu Pentecostal Church has; they have started a new brick building, but without sufficient funds, they have tried to shortcut or hired bad workers and one even attempted without a foundation! Needless to say, the work is wasted and they will need to start again. The importance of planning for the future and not merely thinking of the present and immediate gain is a lesson to learn.
 Itunundu Anglican Church
(notice all the spare "seats" outside!)
And lastly, while the birth of a Prince is being celebrated, we can share the story of another birth we celebrated in Kimande! A vastly different experience for Azizi than for Kate. Azizi walked for over an hour in labour on a dirty, bumpy road in the darkness of the middle of the night with our friend, Grace (the pastor's wife from the Itunundu Pentecostal). She arrived, exhausted at 2am. She gave birth at 9am, and I was there with other members of the church at 10am, praising God for his safe arrival! A child of the King! And like the new royal Prince, this little "prince" has yet to get a name.
 Amisadai unloading the new table and bed!
Louisa making us some candle holders
We plan to be back in town until Thursday ... I will hopefully get another blog up before we leave as I have lots more to tell about cheese and honey! But that's another story!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Late Night Bishops, Stoves Fired and Quickly Off

After a busy couple of days in Iringa, we are just now heading back to Kimande. We had a great, albeit late and short visit with Bishop Charles (Mwanza) and a few other bishops travelling with him. We are excited about working with him in Mwanza when the time comes! The interview at the Diocese did really happen on Wednesday! And we had a good time with Jesca (who got the job!) and are looking forward to all being finalised and her coming to work with us as soon as possible! Tim had a full day off yesterday doing some translating work at the Bible College in Mafinga. He is enjoying an interesting project here ... which we will tell more about later! While he was doing that, the girls and I enjoyed a chilled out day with friends out that way which was a real treat! Also while we've been back, we worked with Lucy on new Cinnamon Bun Minis! So something new on the market again!
Bishop Charles (3rd from left)

We fired up the kiln here in town and have fired some stoves testing varying clays and also the fire chambers for the institutional stove that we will be building at the Magozi school later on. Here are a few photos taken at that slightly nervous point when the lid of the kiln comes off!

Time to take off the lid!

Checking the fired stoves!

So, it's bye for now! Headed off to Kimande, ready for a village meeting tomorrow. We will work on getting a good group together, ready to start next week! We hope the pits are dug and we can go and get some good clay to fill them up. I am also hoping to do more work on our keyhole garden and I'm sure there will be some more cake and bread making lessons! More about that next time .. I am loving this Wonder Pot from Kathy and this time I am all set to try Shepherd's Pie! Makes a change from ugali ... how exciting! I'm interested to see if a chicken has laid an egg in our house again while we've been gone! Last time we arrived, we found an egg in the corner and spent the first hours of being there chasing this chicken out of the house every two minutes!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Sharing Life: True Hospitality

Sharing life. A good way to live, but also a challenging life to live. It is something we are truly learning in our life in the village of Kimande. Learning that sharing a house with our two Tanzanian friends also meant sharing my hairbrush and losing my pink flip-flops! Yes, really! Mendriad asked for my comb to do his hair and when I went to put on my shoes, there was Ezekiel walking around in my pink flip-flops! Several times! Things are meant to be shared here, but from our culture of individual ownership, this is hard to adjust to. Suddenly my precious oil bottle is down to the last quarter! The soap is all gone. I never know how many I am cooking for - but all the food is shared. But as much is taken, so much more is given. But even that can be hard. To receive. Receiving the gift of food when there is so little for the giver to give. Patiently waiting 3 hours for an offered meal when I'm tired and want to go home and really not sure I can stomach more ugali and leaves. But relationships are formed through the sharing of life - and this does often happen through the sharing of food. So much to learn about life and hospitality. Why in our culture do we worry so much about having the "right" space to offer hospitality, worry that what we offer won't be "good enough?" It is all about the people ... not the size of the dining room, the quality of the china or the cost of the feast. Relationships grown through the sharing of life in the sharing of food. Hospitality is offered in the love and serving, in the friendship. Even if it is just maizemeal and cooked leaves, a shared meal, a shared life is priceless. And as a guest, I can learn to humbly and gratefully receive and then learn to do likewise.

We have had a good week in Kimande. It all began with a village meeting in Itunundu. We demonstrated the stove and talked about the project and started taking names for the group that will form to learn to make the stoves. The meeting took a long time to get started, (it was supposed to be 9am, but we pushed it to 11am and it started at 12pm) but once we got going, there was lots of interest and loads of questions. One man asked how the food would be hot as it part of the pot was not over the flames. Wouldn't that bit be cold? It really is a foreign concept moving away from three-stone fires! 
Ezekiel and Mendriad sharing about the stoves project

Good news! We have found a place to work! We have a house ready for the group to use to make and store the stoves. And there is a place outside where we can dig the clay pits and build a kiln. So we were delighted about that and hope that this week the pits will be dug and filled with clay!

We have started our keyhole garden and tree planting too. Thanks to money raised by Aldermaston School staff Christmas card fund, we have bought trees and seeds! It was hot, hard job on Saturday, digging the garden (remembering our awesome Canada team doing the work last time!) but we are ready for planting this coming week. And we have planted papaya trees, trees for firewood and a moringa tree. So we are setting up a little "demo" area at our house, which is already arousing interest.

Building our keyhole garden

 Planting trees

On Sunday we went to the Pentecostal Church and are encouraged that relationship with this church is growing. Tim began preaching to a group of 6 women, but the crowd did grow!

We also had several visits this last week from Iringa, which was fun. Amisadai has written in her blog about the UK team from Loughborough, and we also had a visit from Andy and Angela and their two lodgers who are working at Neema Crafts, along with Pastor Mfumbe from another village.

Sharing our lives. Waking up in the morning to the sound of the village coming to life and joining them outside as I light my fire. Feeling the great satisfaction of getting it going, making a cup of tea, baking fresh bread and scrambling eggs and cutting up a papaya for breakfast all before heading to the church meeting at 9:30am. Seriously, I used to think it was hard work getting to the church meeting in England on a Sunday morning! But also feeling so frustrated as I can't communicate what I want to if I am to really share life. Feeling so tired of sharing life as I think it isn't worth straightening up off the ground from all the cooking and washing up! Sharing life is hard and I want my own. But then feeling so fulfilled sharing life in the choir practice, learning with laughs to sing and dance Tanzanian style. And then the joy of sharing life with Ezekiel,  who when we met him, didn't think it was possible to eat with white people! But yesterday, he asked to come back with us to Iringa to stay for the night and when he was asked by a friend where he stayed in town, he answered "with my family." A shared life is a good thing! And then there is the joy of sharing life when someone asks to ... as Mama Tao said to me "I want to talk about life with you, because I am so happy you have come." Praying that I can talk about life with her. And share life with her.

And just to add a bit ... we are back in town now for a few days for the interview for the position of future stoves project manager which was supposed to happen last week. We have a busy few days here in town; we have just had the honour of a late night visit from three Tanzanian bishops who after car trouble arrived here to "share food" at 10:30pm! Tomorrow we will share food with Jesca, who will by then hopefully have the job! We go back to Kimande on Friday and have a village meeting planned in Kimande on Saturday.


Monday, 8 July 2013

With Time and Space

So often in our culture, we think that we haven't enough time or haven't enough space. But this past week, we realised again that we have more than enough time and space for what we really need. This week we moved into our house in Kimande ... time and space ceased to be terribly important!

But before we moved into our house in Kimande, there was great excitement celebrating Canada Day. This year, outnumbered by some wonderful Americans, it was an American Canada Day in Tanzania! We had chili and cornbread, peanut butter cookies, maple leaf cookies and Nanaimo Bars, fun and games! Here is a photos with our lone fellow Canadian, Laura!

Even before we arrived in the village, we soon realized again that nothing ever goes as expected and we had again that familiar feeling of total confusion, as to what is going on! We stopped in Magozi, planning to quickly greet some friends before we carried on to Kimande. But then there was chai to be shared and we rather apprehensively noticed that the house was filling up with people in their best clothes. When Mendriad, our host, appeared in his better clothes, we realised that everyone was wanting a lift to Kimande with us (there was a big market happening there). Then noticing bags, we wondered how many were thinking of staying with us...

We had packed our vehicle full of buckets, water, food, firewood and all kinds of other things and then we somehow managed to squeeze in 13 people (4 in the front seats, 8 on the backseat and one on the firewood in the back. Then on the way, we were asked to pick up a huge sack of rice for the pastor, which we managed to squeeze in the back as well, then making that 9 on the back seat! We all piled out with relief in Kimande. As I set up the house, I was wondering, long into the afternoon, how many were planning to stay that first night and how many would want food.

The next morning, after our morning chai of tea and bread, we, with our "unexpected" guests, were all reading I Peter 4 together. In there is the verse, "offer hospitality to one another without grumbling" and that was a good reminder. I was worried that there would not be enough space for everyone, there would not be enough food and water for everyone, that I would not have enough of "my" own time or space with a houseful. But there was plenty of food and enough space and I had, at the last minute, packed spare bedding! And with this verse as a reminder, we shared our time ... and had a wonderful time with Ezekiel and Mendriad staying with us until we left. Also, we had a beautiful and constant example of the verse in Mama Castory and her family, who having already shared their home with us, now shared their food with us! Why should I ever worry about having "enough" of anything?

The following verse in I Peter says, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in various forms." This was an interesting verse to reflect on given what came to happen! I have my own views of what I think these gifts might be, things I can see myself doing as a means of serving people. But the Bible doesn't say use the gifts you think are your best ones; it says use "whatever gift!" And this doesn't necessarily mean doing it the way I think, but in "various forms." I was thinking about how I might serve with stoves and cooking, with gardens or English lessons. No fixed plans, but typical me, just wanting to be prepared!

But by the end of the first day, two mamas had independently brought their sick babies to me and I was able to pray for them. Then early on the second day, with a number of other mamas, I visited Mama Joseph who was very sick, lying on a mat outside her house. I ended up driving her to the hospital with two other ladies. Now those of you that know me, know this is not a way I would choose to serve! This was a difficult thing about being a pastor's wife when were in the UK ... visiting members of the church in hospital! I would feel it coming, that awful nauseous feeling, in a hot, stuffy environment with its clinical smells, as patients were explaining their condition, or even worse, showing their wounds and stitches! On several occasions, a nurse has neglected the real patient to sort me out as I went peculiar shades of green or turned white as a sheet about to keel over! So serving the sick, really never seemed a "gift" of mine, but here I was praying for the sick and finding myself in a small village hospital. There were lots of people: a little boy, the whole side of his face slashed raw and bleeding after falling off a motorbike, a man, his chest covered in blood after being beaten down and trampled by cows gone mad, a woman with serious injuries, external and internal to her stomach after being hit by a power tiller (similar to a tractor). There were lots of babies, sick or not growing. It was so hard seeing my new friend, so ill, struggling to walk, yet needing to go from place to place, doctor to nurse, and then what seemed like such a long walk in the hot sun to a horrible hole in the ground to get a urine sample into a tiny jar. I could see the difficulty in getting anything in the tiny top of the jar, but despite all my protests, the women took a filthy broken water bottle from the ground and took it to use to get the sample in the bottle. And then we took her to the room of beds. The sheets were bloodstained and unmade, the dusty room was small and cluttered. But I didn't pass out! I unwrapped my khanga from my waist and Mama Elisabeti took hers from her shoulders and we spread them over the bed for Mama Joseph to lie on. We prayed for her.

Mama Joseph is now recovering well at home. It turned out that she was sick from drinking the dirty water, untreated. I had seen her lying in so much pain on the mat outside her home with an old plastic cup, drinking the water to cool her fever, and then watched with horror as her two young children took the cup and finished the cup of water. But with so little firewood, how is it possible to keep boiling the water? It's good to be here.

Whatever gift ... various forms. I know I could never nurse or doctor the sick, but I can pray for them! And if serving comes in the form of going round a hospital, then so be it. Learning to be flexible. I was gone all morning at the hospital and with Tim out searching for clay, the girls were left on their own, for what I thought was a long "time." But it was all the right time. And I came back to find the girls had invited in a roomful of children, all happily colouring with some books given by a friend. God's time and His space!

On our third day, Mendriad asked if we could read together Luke 4. He and Ezekiel shared how they saw themselves, through the project, taking the good news of the Kingdom of God to these surrounding areas. They are following Jesus, wanting to bring physical and spiritual healing. And that is our prayer too. In a village with a hospital, there are many who are sick. And as we serve the sick, we remember that there are also hearts that are infected with sin and broken by pain.

So now before you think that I turned into Florence Nightingale, remember it was only 2 babies and a hospital visit! But it has got me thinking! There is a lot more that I could write about the rest of our time, but I think more about our experiences and activities in this village will have to wait for another blog post! Only one more thing Tim says I should add ... in my hurry to get back to town on Sunday in time for the Wimbledon Men's Final, I took out a shock absorber, so it's off with Andy to the welders tomorrow.

 Ezekiel, Pastor Castory and Mendriad (left-right) in our house
Louisa with Diana and Josephine ...and a duck!
 Amisadai playing football (a ball of plastic bags) with the kids
 Washing dishes with the chickens and baby ducklings!

 Off to take the rice to be milled
(it was a lot further than I thought ... ouch!)

We are back in town for three days, primarily to interview for the position of future stoves group manager. We will go back to the village on Thursday. Our plan is to have village meetings about the stoves project on Friday and Saturday in Kimande and Itunundu. Our biggest challenge is to quickly find a place that we can use to keep the clay and make and store the stoves, as until then, we cannot get clay. And until we get clay we cannot start the stoves group!