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

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.


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