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

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Rats Eat Stoves!

We arrived back in town this afternoon, and while it is wonderful to enjoy the simple luxury of water, particularly in the form of a shower and a good cup of tea, it is always a little overwhelming changing gears. And now trying to post our latest news to you friends in faraway places, it's hard to know where to start!

I'll start with the rats eating stoves! We were surprised to find one morning that our freshly made clay stoves were nibbled extensively by visiting rats. The second morning we were less surprised and more annoyed. It then dawned on us why these rats were so fond of our pots; we had mixed the clay with ground rice husks to prevent future cracking! Delicious! Tim and I spent over an hour canvasing the village in the hot sun for rat poison. It worked ... for a while. Then last week we tried mixing crushed bricks in with the clay. The rats weren't so interested! Obviously they preferred the rice husk stove diet.

And while on the subject of healthy diets, last week I taught on Nutrition. As part of the stoves group training we include teaching on cooking efficiently and also cooking for good health. We visited the hospital in Kimande and talked with the head doctor about some of the issues involving health, particularly as affected by local diet and water problems. (The day we visited the hospital, eight babies had just been born! One, sadly was premature and didn't survive. But the number of patients going through that little hospital is astounding.) Our hope is to train the Stoves Group and then see some of them teach their community, maybe in the hospital itself. It was a fun session last Wednesday morning, learning about the different food groups and the benefits of each. The girls were a fantastic help as they did a mimed drama explaining by analogy the roles of the different foods and why we need them!

Teaching Nutrition

Nutrition Drama by Amisadai and Louisa
And the following day, we were invited out for a meal with Mama Natasha, the group secretary. She had prepared an amazing meal, by far the most elaborate we have eaten here with beans, spinach, fish, rice, ugali, chapatis, bananas ... I wondered if she thought we had to eat every type of protein or carbohydrate at every meal! We thoroughly enjoyed it though!

Lunch with Mama Natasha
And on the subject of health, Sunday was not such a great day for the girls. Louisa was quite sick during Saturday night... not fun with mosquito nets, no bathroom, very little water and no light! And Amisadai was feeling rough with stomach aches and diarrhoea. So the girls and I stayed home while Jesca and Tim went preaching ... at the Anglican Church in Itunundu in the morning and the Kimande AoG Church in the afternoon.  But as the girls flopped in the heat and I kept force-feeding them liquids, feeling rather low, we had the most amazing outpouring of love! Pastors of three different churches in Kimande and Itunundu (a 2km walk) came to our house to pray for Louisa. She was visited with a gift of mango juice. Word spread and people came to ask after her. And she got better! But do continue to pray for health, for although Louisa is better, Amisadai was throwing up this afternoon!

And so we are slowly starting to feel more part of the community. It is very different to Magozi which was very close-knit and friendly. With a population of 3000, Kimande is far too big for everyone to know everyone, and particularly as the church we are primarily working with only has about 25 people, it has not been easy to get to know many people. There seems to be more distrust, more theft and mild violence here. We even have a jail here... another odd thing for us. The prisoners are visible so that people in the village can go to look them over. Tim was taken to look... it is deemed good to know who they are. But for some, the crimes are such incredibly minor thefts, and the shame and branding along with more hardened criminals is hard for us to understand. Talking to the doctor at the hospital, we also learned that a major problem of the village is alcoholism. This problem is not only for individual health affected by the local brew, but also accidents and many cases of women beaten by drunken husbands.

With a greater number of people, there are also more tribes living here; most common are the Wahehe tribe (as in Magozi), then also Wagogo, Masai, Mang'ati and Wasukuma. The nomadic Wasukuma herders have tensions with the farming Gogo. And it seems the nomadic Masai have tensions with the Mang'ati. I was rather wary of the rather fierce-looking Wasukuma whom I recognised only by their usual attire of welly boots and a woolly hat and the fact that they carry a stick. But I have since learned that the leader of the stoves group, who leads the Anglican Church in Itunundu is Wasukuma (he doesn't wear welly boots) and it is interesting to talk to him and hear the difference for him as a Christian. He loves the fact that in Christ, we are all brothers and sisters, our tribe and colour is far less significant and certainly not a cause for conflict! Our prayer is to see this truth be known!

As time goes on, we are becoming more known and accepted and liked! This time we have received huge gifts of rice, of papayas, spinach, peanuts and a HUGE strange root vegetable that took ages to cook! Their generosity is humbling and so kind!

People coming together. We are joining together with the people of these two villages. People from many religions and tribes are coming together in our stoves group. As people come together, tribes come together, as churches come together, unity replaces division. We believe that this is what the Kingdom of God is all about! Our prayer for the stoves group is that many of them could demonstrate, indeed live out what it means to be part of the Kingdom of God. One People. One Family. Can the common hospital records of respiratory illnesses, dysentery from bad water, poor nutritional health and physical abuse change? Can prisons be shut down? Can homes be safe from theft? Can tensions between herders and farmers be resolved? Our prayer is for transformation!

As this blog is running rather long, I will stop my ramblings here and carry on with some more news soon! So until next time, guess how many papayas I can carry on my head?

The Lows ... the cake that really burnt.

The Highs ... 64 stoves made so far!


  1. This is so wonderful Mongers! Girls I hope you feel better! Praying for you all!


  2. I also pray that both girls will be better soon. Praying particularly for Amisadai who is still feeling very sick. I do pray that for extra strength and energy for you too, Rachel. You are living under very difficult circumstances and seeing your children sick is so stressful.

    I hope that the girls will soon post a video of their Nutrition Drama on their blog. I am curious to see how they demonstrated this through mime.

    God bless you

    1. Thanks so much, Austin and Linda! And sorry, Linda, we didn't video it! Maybe next time! In the scene in the photo, Louisa is a thief (named Disease) who enters Amisadai's house ("body") because she isn't protected by the vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables!

  3. There is so much here for which we give thanks to God. It is wonderful to see the progress, both on the stove project and also on the growing relationships with the two villages. We keep praying for you all, for protection as well as progress. Much love and many blessings. Edwin & Margaret


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