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.


  1. Excellent blog! Thank you for your honesty (which we understand all too well!). We too read the Hobbit aloud when in Ecuador, and recently rediscovered the cassette tapes of the reading!
    We had Samweli (and Meghan) round last night for a meal, and he showed us pictures and talked at length of the Tadley team's time with you. We wish we could visit too, but not sure if the wheelchair could cope... maybe fit caterpillar tracks?
    Keep trusting and blogging - it's pure gold!
    Simon and Jane Aspray

    1. Thank you so much, Simon and Jane for your encouraging words both to us and the girls! We really appreciate your thoughts and prayers ... and the feedback! Thanks so much! It would be a bumpy ride around here with your wheelchair ... but we'd love to have you :) Lots of love, Rachel and Tim


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