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

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Thankful.

We have so much to be thankful for! A house, a car, a shower and a fabulous time with the King’s School Team from Canada!

Yes, it looks like we have a new house! It is a house built years ago by some Finnish missionaries on a plot of land owned by the Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania. Interestingly, it seems that the Finns shipped everything for their new house over from Finland and we were amazed to see not only some fine wood panelling but also an old Finnish Aga and a beautifully finished wooden sauna! I can’t imagine ever feeling the need to warm up with either of these – I think just stepping out in Mwanza is enough of a sauna experience! But the house is good with three bedrooms and a study and also a large area outside for playing and planting a garden. We met with the FPCT administrator this afternoon and are hoping to sign a contract next week and move at the beginning of May! Thankful!
We are thankful to have our car back! It was rather bad timing, but our car broke down during the first week that the Canada team was with us. Although, as you can see in the photo, maybe having them around at the time was not such a bad thing! Thankfully, Mama Minja very kindly loaned us her Land cruiser to get us all about. And although it was terribly expensive, we were grateful yesterday to get our vehicle back on the road. And as for the water, I am very thankful to have water again! We have not had proper running water for over a week now, but today it has returned and so as soon as I have finished here I am going to enjoy a much longed-for shower! Very thankful!

PUSH!
And we are so very thankful for the fabulous time we have had with our Canada Team! We have shared many fun, great and meaningful times with them over the past three weeks. This week I was able to go with them to the Serengeti for two days. There, for the first time, we came up close with a leopard! It was so close lying there in the grass that we could have reached down and stroked it! Our guide was carefully watching the large beady eyes and took the cue when we should leave … NOW!  So beautiful and such a treat to see! Thankful!


Serengeti Game Drive

Looking Leopard
We had a real African adventure as we found ourselves standing out in the wild when our vehicle tire had a major blow-out.  And then again in the afternoon, when we started going up in smoke …  thankfully just a simple fuse problem and quickly fixed! Then on the second day we were waiting a long time with the zebras while several men took our wheel off and banged and bashed, fixing a brake problem! We had the full experience of camping in the wild in small tents under the amazing Serengeti sky, alight with innumerable stars. And then experienced the real African rains in a camp awash with rivers from the torrential downpour!  
Changing the tire in the Serengeti
Fixing the brake in the Serengeti


Tenting in the Serengeti
As well as bumping along through the Serengeti in an open-top gamepark vehicle, with the team we have crossed Lake Victoria in various forms of ferries. We had great fun traipsing the dusty, bumpy tracks across the island on the backs of piki pikis (motorbikes). A piki piki parade heralded by surprised cries of "WAZUNGU" as we passed by! And maybe not quite so much fun, we also bounced across the island squashed in dala dalas (local buses).

Across the island to the Secondary School

PikiPiki Parade

Dala dala across the island
But however we travelled, we certainly got around! With the team, we have been to an orphan nursery school, a “Village of Hope” for children without families, to kids on the street, to kids with albinism, to a church in the city centre and a church on the top of a mountain, to fishermen, to the elderly, to the suffering … So while we were sad saying our goodbyes today and are missing them already, we are so thankful for the time we have had with this team and for the doors that they have opened up here in the Mwanza area! Hearts of gratitude are surely a good thing and as the team left, there were many hearts full ... ours, theirs, many in the churches and also the hearts of those who have found faith or been encouraged. May we all take encouragement from what God is doing (in the midst of the difficulties) and share a heart of thankfulness!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Rich Life Under the Same Son

Marginalised, rejected, cursed, stigmatised. So many people, so much pain. It is always hard to witness, always hard to know what to do, always hard to know how to help. The team visiting us from Canada has come face to face with it this week. This week was one of exposure for them, a time for them to learn and grow and see their worldviews develop and maybe change. And they have stepped out of their comfort zones and reached out in a way they never knew they could.

We have just returned from a visit with Dr Makori (and others) to Kome Island.  It is such a privilege and so exciting for us to be working alongside him in the work that he (and many other Christians here in Mwanza) are doing, sharing his vision for the transformation of the islands on Lake Victoria. He has named his project work “RICH” (Rural Island Community Health Initiative). This island is seen to be poor. But the island is already rich in so many ways with the resources it has in the fertile land and fish of the lake. But more significantly there is the need for people to see how “rich” are the people who have God’s Life!  We long to see people on these islands have life; healthy, hope-filled life now and also eternal life. We long to see the people of these islands place a value on life, ALL life.  
Walking through the rich, fertile rice fields on Kome Island
Life for so many people is given a stigma, a curse, a rejection. The life of Jesus was the same.
We went to the home of Abbas, a young man suffering severely from what we think may be cerebral palsy. He is considered by his family and villagers to be a curse. He is hidden away in a very small dark, wooden hut on the sandy ground near the lake. He lies every day on an old foam mattress, he is only ever taken outside on Christmas Day each year. We went in, our eyes adjusting the darkness and our noses to the stench and we talked and prayed with him for just a while. He was so delighted with the company and attention; he wanted just to hold our hand, to have his photo taken, to have a glass of water. As we prayed, his face lit up with the largest smile and the sound of laughter came bursting out. We left to his insistent cries that we must remember him. I just cried as soon as we got back to our rooms. 
Abbas
Jontwa, a teacher from the Mwanza International Church taught a seminar on HIV AIDS. People with HIV/Aids are another group extremely marginalised and stigmatised here in Tanzania. As I mentioned before, HIV AIDS is particularly rampant on the island, but there is so little knowledge about it, and so much stigma, that people will not get tested or treated. Friends of one lady suffering badly attended the day seminar on Wednesday and later asked Jontwa to go out and visit this woman. He rode out on the back of a motorbike and found her very ill, very much in need of testing and medicine. But her husband would not pay the 5000Tsh ($4 or £3) to get her to the hospital on the local bus and ferry.
Jontwa teaching on Kome Island
On the mainland last week, we visited “Under the Same Sun” a group committed to ending the deadly discrimination against people with albinism in Tanzania. It is a particularly serious problem here in the Mwanza region as albinos are hunted down and murdered for witchcraft purposes, their body parts sold in wickedness for fishermen’s “spells”. We heard the heart-wrenching stories of young children whose parents have just run away from them, leaving them alone and endangered.

One girl sharing her testimony with us

Taylor making butterflies (new creations) at Under the Same Sun
While on the island we heard the awful sounds of a woman being beaten in the common (and very public) act of domestic violence. We could hear the resounding hits from a raged man drunk and the screams and cries of the suffering woman. We could see the crowd of onlookers, staring, watching the gruesome scene yet doing nothing. All we could do was pray. So we did. And we saw God’s hand extended in mercy and love in a real and miraculous way as immediately the beating stopped.

Yes, there is so much pain, so much discrimination, as people created by God are stigmatised, marginalised, cursed. In recent days with the Canada team we have seen it over and over. Yet we have also seen that God is good. Those heart-wrenching stories of desertion for the children with albinism ended in the glorious testimony of God’s grace as He saved their lives and brought them into family at “Under the Same Sun.” We saw God’s heart of love for people and I think each of us grew in our desire to see that love extended. It was exciting to see the young people on the team boldly demonstrate and show God’s love as they reached out to serve, to give, to pray. They shared the love and life of God with people as they sat with individuals and gave the hope of the gospel and had the joy of seeing that gift received! 

Jesus himself was marginalised, rejected, deserted, cursed and afflicted. Yet the story does not end there. He rose again victorious over sin and death, over pain and affliction. And this victory is ours; we can share in this hope. We can rest in the fullness of his love for us and share this love with others, however marginalised, discriminated against, cursed, stigmatised, rejected, or suffering. Coming out of this curse of darkness, in God’s Kingdom, where all things sad are coming untrue, we are truly all RICH and truly all under the same Son.

And this all said, if any of you reading this would like to help the work here, we (and Dr Makori) would be so grateful! Amisadai and Louisa are raising money through their sponsored SODIS Shake and Water Walk and the details are on the page at the top of this blog and also on their website (mongergirlswaterworks.webs.com) Any donation, however small, would be appreciated and we want to especially encourage children to get involved; this is not a large and professional fundraising campaign, but it comes from the heart of two children seeing that children can help too!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Canada Comes to Tanzania

It's all happening here in Mwanza! Right now we are excited to have the team from the King's School in Langley, B.C. here with us. They arrived on Sunday morning and were whisked quickly to the second service at MICC before the adrenalin wore off and jet lag set in! After their three-day journey and with the 11 hour time difference, they are doing well to cope with all the activity and all that taking in a new and different culture means! Today they started teaching at Mama Minja's orphan's nursery school. Not all of the children are actually orphans; Esther, for example is a lovely little girl whose father has died of HIV Aids, whose mother is sick with it also. But Esther herself is also a sick little girl and so Mama Minja has taken her in at the school and the love between the two is so beautifully evident. Today Taylor (one of the team) was sitting with her, helping her learn to write the number 4.

The team arrives in Mwanza!
 
The team doing a "drime" at MICC

Louisa enjoying morning uji (runny porridge) with
Mama Minja's nursery children

 Before the team arrived, Tim had an interesting and fruitful few days visiting a couple of villages. The first was a place called Nyakato, a village on the edge of Mwanza. Here he visited with Pastor Elia Swai who is in charge of community development for the TAG Diocese. They were able to discuss what churches are doing in the Mwanza area, what the recognized needs are for these communities and what opportunities there are. Things are really just starting to get off the ground in terms of practical development, but already they have a project running teaching crafts such as knitting sweaters and making shoes. I was excited to hear about the keen desire for development in areas of farming and gardens and health and even bee-keeping! More honey on the way ...


The shoe-making project

The next day, Tim had agreed by phone to meet a pastor and his church ... before realising just how far away this pastor lived! It was a four-hour drive on some bad roads including a ferry across the Gulf of Mwanza to the village of Nyehunge, about 116km away. But well worth the effort as the meeting was incredibly well organized with a good number of church members there for the meeting.


The Nyehunge Church


The church in Nyehunge

There is not much happening there at the moment but they are keen to do something! Tim found that the people were looking to him for what we could bring them rather than looking at what they already had themselves or could generate and do themselves. He worked at turning that view around. One thing that the women mentioned was that it took the whole day to collect firewood for cooking which would last three days. So a stoves project would be a good idea! We were all very relieved when Tim got home that evening, after a long drive home with a hold-up at the ferry for a rather dramatic rainstorm!

Squeezing on the ferry ... with rather over-loaded trucks

And speaking of bad roads ...
The road outside our house became a river on Sunday and Monday with water pipe problems
...so unfortunately no running water for the team when they arrived from the airport! All fine now!

And still on this note of long drives on bad roads in rainstorms and more bad roads, I would like to recommend the girls' latest blog and efforts at a website to you! They are raising money for a land cruiser for our work! It is a real and valid need that we all recognize, which we will hopefully post some more information about soon. The girls came up to us with their pocket money a few weeks ago and asked if it would help ... which was very sweet of them! They also saw the need for medical help on the islands and wanted to help Dr Makori's work (which we have written about in previous blogs).

A few weeks ago, they started getting very busy making cards as they decided they would make and sell gift cards to raise money. But we had a chat about markets (which they hadn't yet thought about) and realised the market for homemade cards wasn't a good one. So we started thinking of what else they could do ... i.e. a sponsored fundraiser. Swimming was the first idea as Amisadai's friend, Emily in England is doing a sponsored swim for Sport Relief, but that was quickly out-ruled as neither are good swimmers; biking was the preferred activity (Amisadai was quite taken with the ride for water that Canadian, Jason Manning is currently doing from Japan to Vancouver), but that was out-ruled because their bikes are still in Iringa (and Japan is a long way away). So that left walking! But ideas started coming as we carried on with our school topic on water and sanitation. And we ended up with the great 100L SODIS Shake ... although Louisa took a little while to come round to this idea as the novelty of shaking bottles to treat the water has long worn off and as she said firmly in her own words, "I was not born to shake!" ... But she agreed in the end that she could make the sacrifice!

So you can find out all about it on their blog and website (www.mongergirlswaterworks.webs.com) which includes videos on how to treat water with SODIS and how to make a Tippy Tap. And if you are able to comment on their blog or sign in their guestbook they would really love it! And if you are able to sponsor them or organize a fundraiser or share the websites with your friends and family, that would help too! Thank you!


Making a Tippy Tap in Tanzania from Rachel Monger on Vimeo.

SODIS Treating Water in Tanzania from Rachel Monger on Vimeo.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Jiggers in Feet and Jigging with the Diocese

It was bound to happen eventually, and last week, Amisadai found her first jigger bedded down beside her big toe in the bottom of her foot. By the time she noticed it (a blister-like thing with a black bit in the middle), it must have been a least a week old and was rather large! Remembering the complete hash I made of trying to get my jigger out a couple of years ago, we asked Mama Minja to help! She took a pin and scraped away the top and then slowly dug down around the sac of eggs. (This is the bit where I had pricked the sac and they all spilled out and it all got a bit messy!) Mama Minja carefully dug around and then pinched and pulled to get the whole thing out; it hung for all its worth as Amisadai grimaced and had to look the other way! But finally it was out … with its rather large and impressive sac of eggs (duly passed around to all for inspection), leaving a small crater hole in the bottom of Amisadai’s foot. 

Operation Jigger
Jiggers aside, we had a lovely time with Mama Minja and her family. We finally got the opportunity to meet her husband who works in Bukoba (about 400km away), a kind and very generous man! 

The Mongers and Minjas
Last week, Tim was chauffeur for the Deputy Archbishop of TAG Tanzania from Dar es Salaam. They went to a meeting of the Diocesan Council where Tim was officially introduced to the Council and given the opportunity to talk about our rural development work and meet key people of the Diocese. Tim was impressed with Dep. Archbishop Magnus Mhiche who was very supportive of developing our partnership together.

We had a full Sunday this past week; in the morning we were at Bishop Charles’ church for the annual TAG Mama’s Sunday in which all the women take the service. With it only happening once a year, the ladies make the most of it, and on Sunday we finished at 2:30pm! But it was full of singing and dancing and generous giving of gifts! 

Mamas Singing
Mamas give a window as a gift to the church for the new building

We went on from there to grab a quick bite to eat before getting to a big event at Zakayo’s church (MICC). It started at 2pm but we were rather late! In Swahili it is called a “tamasha” which I can’t say without thinking “to-mash-a-potato” and it takes all my effort not to add “potato” on the end or giggle! But a tamasha is a concert and it was a great afternoon of music and praise with hundreds of people turning out for it!

MICC Concert
The choir in their beautiful matching vitenge!
The Sunday prior was unexpectedly exciting. We discovered when we arrived, that there was to be a baptism after the service, at the hotel pool over the road. And at the end of the service, Joseph (our weekend guard) made the decision to be baptised. He chatted with the leaders afterwards and then we went along with him to the hotel and in the water he went! This public proclamation of his new faith and his desire to leave the old behind and live a new life in Christ was a joy to witness! With no towel or spare clothes, it was a soggy but happy ride home for a very late lunch!

Joseph's Baptism