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

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!


  1. Rachel, the adventures that fill a normal day for you are quite astonishing to me! We meet weekly at Steve and Christina Stewart's, with a group committed to missions at home and abroad. S and C are right now in Nicaragua where they have set up a medical clinic for the time they are there, and are distributing water filters, among other things. The filters are quite amazing, and will provide clean water for years for quite a few families. Only $65!!!!! They used to make clay water filters, but have found these ones which are much much easier to carry and use! I think you need a supply of these filters in Tanzania. When the Stewarts are back, I'm going to inquire about the filters! I love to read your entries. I have been slow to respond though I always read what you post, as I found all my responses to your site and to Andrea Boettcher's, on Google linked to my name! It must be the way I set them up. I am going to try to post anonymously this time. I continue to pray for you, giving thanks for your flexibility and faith!
    Love Luella

    1. Thanks, Luella! That's interesting to hear about the filters! Let me know when you find out more! We use and try to teach a method called SODIS (solar disinfection) here, in which we fill a clear bottle 3/4 full with water and then shake it for about 20 seconds to increase oxygen levels. Then the bottle is filled to the top and put out on a corrugated metal roof or piece of metal in the sun for 6 hours. It is a free and very effective way of killing bacteria! We do also filter ours to get the bits out! Others do a kind of sand filtering as well, which is easily possible in villages. But really good are the rainwater harvesting tanks, which Andy Sharpe with us in EI here, does. The rainwater is really clean to start with! Lots of love, Rachel

  2. What an amazing day. Life is an adventure when you follow Jesus. You are living the message as well as teaching it, and God is using the girls too in their way. Much love, Edwin & Margaret. XX

  3. I LOVE THIS BLOG. You guys are just so awesome. Will miss you all!



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