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

Monday, 29 September 2014

Parasites, Postal Paperwork and a Birth on the Pavement!

Louisa hasn't been too well for a while. I kept attributing her lack of energy and poor appetite to tiredness due to starting school, late nights with a busy time recently and told her to just "get a good sleep ... finish your lunch ... drink more water ..." But with repeated bouts of diarreah and recurring tummy aches, I finally clued in that she might have a problem. So we had her tested and she has another amoeba. But then it might just be the same one which has been lying dormant for a while? I am trying to figure it all out, but every time I start reading up on it, I end up just going again to wash my hands!

So this was all a cause of great distress as Louisa remembers all too clearly the last amoeba, or rather the medicine given to treat it. Before it does the job, the medicine causes more sickness than the amoeba. It isn't fun. But as we began waging war on Louisa's parasite, today we plodded through hurdles at post offices with little yellow papers in order to procure a parcel of books for pastors, and I read a prayer that seemed rather amusingly appropriate. The prayer by Anne Washington (who lives and works in Bolivia) is her prayer for all those "suffering under the weight of paperwork or parasites" ...
“May your lines be short and your patience long.
May you rejoice in the moments of health and know that in the moments of sickness this too shall pass… literally.
Or you’ll vomit and then you might feel better. Or you might not feel better but at least you might lose a few pounds.
May you have the gift of tongues to interpret the medical jargon on the very strong medications.
May you interpret, as well, the official wording on forms, visas, signs, documents, contracts, etc.
When the parasites come crawling and the paperwork keeps trailing may you be surrounded by people of compassion and be filled with perseverance that pushes through to find some kind of humor in it all.
Amen.”(Life Overseas)
Other than treating parasites and plodding round post offices with papers for parcels, today (which happens to be our 13th wedding anniversary and thus entitled us to coffee at Gold Crest), I also had an interesting drive home from school! As I pulled up to a stop with a carload of kids, waiting to turn onto the main road, I saw a woman struggling on the ground in obvious pain at the side of the road, surrounded by a few others. One was stretching a khanga (cloth) across on the roadside. But from where we sat, we watched one woman bend over the first and then incredulously realised what was happening as she suddenly lifted up a tiny baby! She wrapped the baby in a khanga and other women hovered over the new mother, setting her as gently as one could on the hard tarmac at this busy corner. With speeding motorbikes cutting the corner and a huge ditch right beside, this has to be one of the worst places to give birth, but what excitement to all see a new life begin! And it was all over just like that as we turned onto the main road! Wow!  
Anniversary selfie at Gold Crest!
This past week, we have enjoyed having Sue Fallon, manager of EIUK, here with us. She came to see how things are going, so we've had plenty of time to chat about what we are up to, how we are doing, go over our finances situation ... and play some games, make loom bands, climb to the Dancing Rocks and enjoy dinner out at Malaika (we will post some fun photos soon, but here is a sneak peak... )

She has been able to have a few visits with us to see what is happening on the farms with the agricultural projects, to meet with the BMCC women's group for a Bible Study, and meet with various key people we work with here.
So on Wednesday we were with Sue in Kisesa, (a village about 20km away), checking out the three or four "shamba's" (farms) of people we are working with. As you can see, the land is very dry now, but we are anticipating the rains and preparing for planting.
Potential for growth!

This pit is being painstakingly dug by hand to collect water in the rains.
Hot, hard work!

Treking along narrow dirt roads cut with thornbushes!

Surveying the land

This deep pit still has water, but I didn't want to attempt descending the slippery pit to collect it!

Making plans for planting
So with parasites in check and parcel procured, I am left only wondering what they named that little baby ... thinking it must be something like Barababa (road) or Haraka (fast, quickly)!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Students, Pastors, Farmers

It's hard to know just how to catch up on our blog! With many things happening and very bad internet, we seem to be many stories behind and we are now another visitor ahead with Sue Fallon visiting us from the UK. But here is a bit of a catch up!
We have had a great month with Tim's parents here. Amisadai and Louisa have blogged about some of what they got up to with Grandma and Grandad. Tim has started teaching weekly at the Bible College here in Mwanza and is enjoying his 19 students as they work through Missiology together.
Last week we were with Mama Minja and the children at Console Nursery School. I know many of you have visited or supported the work here and you will be so pleased to see how well the new building is coming along! They are almost ready to use the new classrooms which will make such a huge difference for these young children! And the plan is to also use the building for some income generating projects to support the school with a fully-paid and qualified teacher and provide more nutritious food for the children. Praise God for Mama Minja and the amazing work she is doing! 
The new building for Console Nursery
One of the new classrooms

Pastor's Conference
We had to wait a while to begin the Pastor's conference the other week. The electric meter had run out and no conference can proceed without PA! So we waited until someone had topped it up with some money in the slot and then we were powered and ready to go! The only problem was he can't have put enough in, as a few hours later everything fizzled and he had to pop out again to top it up! Needless to say, lunch was a little late later on! But the conference was great! Tim and his Dad taught over the two days and there was lots of good discussion and good questions from the various pastors there, all from different denominations.

Teaching at the Pastor's Seminar
The conference delegates

A good lunch!
Agricultural Training Seminar
Last week, we were excited to officially start the conservation agriculture project! This has been a lot of preparation work for Tim recently. We are working on this project with a group of three graduates from St Augustine University, Mwanza. These visionary young adults have formed an awareness group to focus on the need for agricultural education in this region. It seems crazy in an area which struggles agriculturally with bad soil conditions and unfavourable weather, but we hear that agricultural courses have been cut. So this group has taken it upon themselves to initiate change! They formed the awareness group, applied for and received land from the government on which to work and are now working with us to help train local farmers in conservation agricultural techniques.
So we invited eight subsistence farmers from three surrounding villages to work with us. We are going to work with them for a year, with the condition that they then teach  others all that they learn! So they came last week for two days of "classroom" teaching where we laid out the theological basis of what we are doing and outlined the practical steps we will be taking. Tim's Dad led the opening with the Word on Psalm 65. Peter and Esther (two from the awareness group) also helped with some of the teaching. Now the task for the farmers is to prepare their mulch and compost for the planting season coming up. But it will be a busy few weeks as because we had some early rains, the schedule has moved suddenly forward!
So it was a good two days in Nyakato - albeit very hot and long for Mum and Dad as it was all in Swahili under a tin roof!

Peter demonstrates how to space seeds when planting
with the use of a rope and scrap cloth markers

Esther teaching
And here are a few shots from our farewell picnic on the beach before Grandma and Grandad left us here last week on the shores of Lake Victoria!

A game of horseshoes
Leaping in the Sunset

 And finally ... anyone looking for a foam mattress?

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Baptism in the Indian Ocean

We were so delighted and proud to see Amisadai get baptised on Sunday! We have put some of the photos together in a short video for those of you who would have liked to be there for it! Thanks so much for the messages and prayers - it was very special!

Amisadai Faith Monger Baptism from Rachel Monger on Vimeo.

We had an amazing weekend in Dar es Salaam. We arrived very late on Friday night. On Saturday, Tim's dad was teaching at the Bible School and in the afternoon we enjoyed some fun in the pool! We were up before sunrise on Sunday and set off at 6am to the beach for Amisadai's baptism in the Indian Ocean. We all sang Amazing Grace in the early morning sun, Amisadai shared why she wanted to be baptised (read below), Pastor Huruma gave a short message and a few of us shared some things for Amisadai. Then it was into the waves with Grandad and Uncle Huruma! It was lovely to see Amisadai take this big step as she follows God in her own walk with Him.

Click here to read what Amisadai shared.

After a quick change, we arrived late at the 7am first service in which Tim's Dad was preaching. That was followed by chai and then the 10am service. It was great to be back with Victory Christian Church (VCC) again; they have been such a great support to us!

After the services, we were treated by VCC to the most incredible, amazing lunch with the Nkone family! It was such a treat, and such a good time all together! We were 21 stories high and yes, the LONG lift was pretty exciting for the girls! The experience was comparable to Buddy's in Elf, but although the comment was made to press all the buttons like a Christmas tree, we didn't! We stepped out of the lift to a view from heaven! Surrounded by windows in a revolving restaurant! Wow!

Only in Africa would you find an open window at waist height on the 21st floor!
And yes ... we had to tell Louisa to get down from the window sill!
This photo was taken leaning out of the open window on the 21st floor ... don't show my mom!


Louisa with Joan and Marion

Beautifully presented!
Delicious! Pickled Octopus

Friday, 12 September 2014

Compassion (com·pati)

com·pas·sion. com·pati. com·passus. co-suffering

Our English word, compassion comes from the Latin words "com" (with, together) and "pati" (the one who suffers, from which we get the word "patient" and "pity"). It is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as the "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." It is to love together. The Swahili word is "huruma."

Last week we saw this word in action. The people at BMCC (Beacon Mission Christian Centre), a TAG church we work with in Nyegezi,  are compassionately serving their community in their desire to see people released from problems and all types of poverty. They run a nursery school, have been working with street kids since 2010 and with children with albinism since 2013. They recently teamed up with Compassion (Child Sponsorship Program) and it was their Compassion project for children in poverty that we specifically went to see last Saturday. Friends of ours in Tadley who work with Compassion UK were speaking at our church in Tadley last Sunday and they wanted some first-hand information and recent photos. So we went and Remmie (the Projects Director) told us more about the work they are doing.

Compassion kids learning about malaria
With Pastor Mbuke (centre) and Remmie (left)
So far, they have 201 children from families in poverty who they are helping through the Compassion partnership. They seek to help the children in four major areas: spiritual development, physical development (health and nutrition), social development, and intellectual development (income generating projects, education and skills training).

Many of these children are underweight or malnourished. Diets at home are poor and help is needed to help and teach the mamas about nutrition and balanced diet. Many of the children are often sick; every week Remmie says that over 20 children are at home sick. This is often due to poor hygiene and sanitation. Teaching is given on clean water; mamas have been told to boil water, but they say that they don’t own a big enough pot to boil the water in and it uses too much valuable fuel. Children that have been orphaned and are living with relatives are often abused or badly treated. BMCC teaches about the rights of children, their right to be loved and protected. They work with the government on child protection issues and are able to intervene and help children in harmful situations. They are able to pray with these children and their families. Sharing in the suffering and helping to alleviate it. And they are seeing suffering alleviated.
Uji time!

It is so encouraging to see the love and passion of God's people shared with others in the midst of their suffering; people demonstrating true compassionPeople who are not selfishly thinking of their own desires and avoiding suffering. But looking at Jesus who embodies the word compassion. People who are joining with (com) other people, seeking to understand their situation, showing love and kindness, especially to those who are suffering (pati).

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
And so from the above verse, we see that all this compassion ends in com-fortis (with strength). A good place to finish. How many ways can we think of to show compassion and to give comfort?

Outside the BMCC church building
On another note, here is a recent news report from CBC which looks at the need for fuel-efficient stove projects! Good to see that CBC agrees with us! http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/news/story/1.2753661

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Where Zebras Roam and Monkeys Steal Snacks

Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika. Zebras wander the roads and monkeys hop from tree to tree. There are apparently two families of zebra in town, each frequenting their own particular area; one family came early each morning to visit us! And the cheeky monkeys hopped from tree to tree outside our cottage with beady eyes peeled, waiting for the opportunity to steal a snack. We left our breakfast table momentarily unguarded one day and quick as a flash they scarpered off with our loaf of bread!
Zebras outside our cottage
We enjoyed a lovely few days with Tim's parents at Jacobsen's in Kigoma, a beautiful spot with a private beach on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Unlike Lake Victoria, this lake (in the Rift Valley) is deep and clean and lovely to swim in! While Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa, Lake Tanganyika is the deepest, the largest by volume, in Africa. It is second in the world to Lake Baikal in Siberia and it is the longest in the world. As well as being close to Ujiji, famous as the meeting place of Livingstone and Stanley (see the last blog post), it is also close to Gombe, the home of the research centre where Jane Goodall has carried out her research on chimpanzees. We wanted to visit the chimps there, but you have to be bigger than Louisa to be allowed in the Park

Lake Tanganyika

It took a while to get there from Mwanza. We started the journey on Monday; a four hour drive which included a chaotic ferry line-up, to Geita on a tarmac road.
A night in Geita
We continued on Tuesday on a bumpy dirt road for 11 hours. The road was not in good shape due to rain the previous day. At one point we came to a halt on a very muddy section of road with a truck well and truly stuck in front of us and others looking perilously close to their demise. Unable to carry on, we turned back and took a detour passing by the gold mines. Lots of mud but no gold. We were all happy to arrive at our lovely accommodation at 6pm that evening!
Stuck in the mud
Greedy Gold Diggers

While in Kigoma, we enjoyed lots of swimming and dingy boat antics in the Lake. We were able to meet up with good friends, the Essers, who we met in Iringa and who now live in Kigoma. And we enjoyed meeting up with another friend, Pastor David Nkone, the brother of Huruma. You will already have read in the last post about our interesting excursion to Ujiji, not far from Kigoma. Then there were evening games with Grandma and Grandad and just time to read a book! We were all sorry to leave early on Saturday morning.

Since arriving back in Mwanza, the girls have returned happily to school and we had the excitement of celebrating Dad's 70th birthday!

A Birthday Dinner at Malaika
The waiters and waitresses came to sing Happy Birthday!

Back at Lake Victoria
Tim is busy! Today he begins his teaching course at the Bible College, tomorrow and Thursday, he and his Dad are teaching a 2-day Pastors Conference and next week Tim starts the Conservation Agricultural Training.

We go with Tim's parents to Dar es Salaam on Friday for the weekend; we are thrilled for Amisadai who is going to be baptised there on Sunday. This will be with Victory Christian Church with Pastor Huruma, in the Indian Ocean! We are so proud of her making this step; it is quite unbelievable how quickly she is growing up!

(Sorry about the repetition in this blog with Amisadai's ... we were writing them at the same time and Amisadai published hers first!)