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

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Terrifying Mzungu

That precious moment as happy parents give thanks for the gift of their baby, as God's blessing is bestowed upon the small child. But then the utter terror as those small, sweet dark eyes suddenly open wide to see a large, very white face just inches above their own! I know from personal experience here, that many babies and young children are completely terrified at their first sight of a mzungu (white person) and thus I was rather apprehensive when I was asked by the Pastor to hold every baby prayed for in the special service on Sunday. An honour. A recipe for disaster. But thankfully only two out of the eight infants screamed in terror during their blessing.

The mamas and their babies

Happy now!
It wasn't only these babies that had rather a shock that Sunday. Tim was also rather shocked as the singing came to an end, with the news that he was the preacher. He did very well, preaching a good sermon (appropriately on children) off the cuff, in Swahili. Amisadai said, "You did very well Daddy, even though you didn't know what you were doing!"

Our focus in going to this small church in Kisesa (where we earlier walked the Water Walk) was actually agricultural and not on children per se! We are preparing to run part of the conservation agriculture project in this area, starting in September, working with farmers on 8-10 plots in total. Tim is working really hard at the moment getting everything prepared for this. But it was very encouraging to see that children are important to this church. Through a large Sunday School and a recently started English Medium Infant School, it is evident that they value these children and are doing all they can to teach and train them well.


I am thankful for Sunday as a positive footing for getting to the blog. Truth be told, it hasn't been easy recently, and I never quite know how to write when it isn't! I don't want to put a glossy, everything-is-great coating on everything, but neither do I want to use this blog as a whinge and woe-is-me outlet! But reality is what it is and in it all, I do find that looking for the beauty in the tangled threads is easier when I come to write about it! (This said as I attempt to reteach myself to knit and crotchet with another project brimming in my brain, and find that Louisa is doing much better than tangled, fumbling me!)

As my tumultuous thoughts are rather rambling at the moment ... around a cautious, fearful Gideon (in the Bible) who needed nothing that he thought he did, a burned meal and a lot of smashed jars along with the deep questions like "why am I here?" ...  I will stick to the more easily explained tangle of our weekend.

One of the things I have been eagerly working on (with the able help of Joseph) has been a kitchen keyhole garden. I had just excitedly planted all my English herbs and started planting the garden's "medicinal" component (more about this later). My aloe vera (on whom I pinned many ideas and much potential) was carefully planted out with strict instructions to all around not to water for at least a week.  I planted various flowers and grasses to welcome my soon-to-be-beloved bees to their new hives (still under construction, but coming soon). 
The kitchen garden under construction

But disaster struck. A freak rainstorm in the dry season. An absolute deluge. Heavy rains. And it continued throughout much of Saturday. It flooded roads, washed the streets with piles of rubbish and carried mud and mire in its wake. I watched in helpless horror as my precious aloe vera lay in a pool of water, as the soil nursing those tender little seeds was washed away with the torrents. The day was very dark (the storm took the power out as well). My job list for the day was impossible with no computer, no oven and no garden. So we read the Hobbit aloud together. We went to bed early but only to be disturbed in the middle of the night by mysterious men with torches inside our gates, creeping around the perimeter of our house. I was imagining machetes while likewise creeping around the inside of the house, in the darkness, following their every step around the outside, as I planned our defense or escape route, ... but it turned out they were investigating the power cut and the guard had let them in. The rain stopped and the sun returned but the power didn't come back until Monday evening, by which time I was more than a little concerned for the 3-day defrosted contents of our freezer and frustrated with the lack of progress on various fronts.

But now normal service has returned. The phones are charged, we have computers again and our cookie and bread supply is restored. And on the subject of bread, I am left wondering again about Gideon, about a dream of a round loaf of barley bread that could collapse the tent of an enemy ... and thinking that I really don't need what I think I need.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Tadley Team Tanzania

The Brits have departed. Now in the quiet, tired, rather subdued calm as we clear up and finish unpacking our boxes, I am finally re-emerging and posting a rather overdue blog update!

The team has been just fantastic! We had our pastor, Greg Whittick from Tadley Community Church here with four young people, Samuel, David, Lottie and Alex, also from Tadley. They will tell their own story here later, but here is a quick snapshot of all the things they got up with us ...

David, Samweli, Alex and Lottie with the infamous Vomiting Fish of Mwanza

Team Tadley 2014
They arrived on June 26th and jumped in immediately the next day with a seminar on discipling young people in the church. It seems this will be the start of something bigger; Tim will carry on with what Greg has started, working with pastors to help them see the potential and opportunity in training young people.

David leads "Set a Fire" at Mkuyuni Church
In their first full week in Tanzania, the team worked at two separate schools for children with albinism connected with Under the Same Sun. It was a special and moving time with these kids. A young boy shared his story with us. He and his brother and sister all have albinism and he told of how when living at home, they were woken by intruders in the night. He and his siblings managed to hide that night. But the next night, the men returned. While hiding, his sister was found and he was helpless as they cut pieces from her, including her tongue, and sat and drank her blood. Another girl, Elizabeti who is missing a finger, shared her story also. These kids, considered by many to be a curse, have lived a life of danger and rejection. They have witnessed and experienced horrific things as their body parts are sought after for witchcraft purposes. But it was beautiful to listen to these children share how God has saved them and to hear them share their hopes to become accountants and pilots and to help others like them. And it was wonderful to share some fun and laughter doing games and songs and crafts.

Arts and Crafts

Parachute Fun!

Greg's Famous Balloon Ministry!

Lunch with the children at Jellies School

After a 2-day trip to the Serengeti, camping in tents and seeing all the incredible wildlife, they were back leading services again for their second Sunday. They enjoyed a special service and lunch with the street kids of the city. It was great to all share a meal together; we all tucked into huge platefuls of rice and beans! The BMCC church is helping these kids get vocational training or more importantly, returned to their homes and reconciled with families. The work with these kids is also growing with Mwanza International Community Church; the work is ballooning really as more and more kids are coming to Sunday services! Girls on the street are also coming; one young girl arrived with her newly born twins (you can see one of them below). All are in desperate need of help, both physical and spiritual.
Pastor Zakayo (MICC) with the children at MICC
The team's second week was a trip to Kome Island. A 6-hour ferry got us all to our guesthouse, where the team experienced the joys of no running water and multiple meals of fish and saw some of the poorest living conditions they have ever seen. We "helped" in Dr Makori's clinic and did surveys in the area. The aim was to discover what the main sicknesses in the area are. From our research, the top problems were typhoid and amoeba and other stomach related illnesses (water-related) as well as the usual problems of malaria. The survey was also able to find out more about childbirth situations. Jountwa, one of the guys from Mwanza International Community Church, came with us and was able to offer counselling for people with HIV AIDS. We were able to walk around the village in the late afternoons/evenings, visiting people, praying with people and sharing the love of God with loads of children that followed us as we went! Samuel came into his element as he shared the gospel with his flock of children!  Greg and Tim were very encouraged after meeting with local pastors, talking about how the church can reach out to their community and how they can disciple young people. Tired and dirty, but healthy and happy, we returned to Mwanza via the night boat... an experience the team will never forget as they struggled over rocks through the sea of people both coming off and getting on the boat, all with sacks of rice and jabbing elbows on a narrow causeway jutting into the lake.

Attempting to board the ferry!

Greg leads the Pastors Seminar on Kome Island

Their work finished with some teaching at Console Nursery, the school run by Mama Minja for orphaned or needy children. We succeeded in our goal to get a smile from a little girl called Esther, whose father has died of HIV AIDS and whose mother is very ill with it. She is a malnourished and sad little girl from a very difficult home situation, but we coaxed a smile! 

More parachute fun at Console Nursery

Alex and Lottie work on making a clay stove (they later cooked on one!)
So it has been a full three weeks, but thankfully all stayed healthy and although it seemed impossible at times, all were fed and watered daily (note to self for the future... do not try and host a team after just moving house and with a small dodgy oven and without sufficient help or a washing machine!) The team was a great encouragement and blessing to us and many others and they have opened doors for the work of God here. They have worked hard, they have served and given so generously and have learned and received even much more!