I am just so thankful that we are finally getting our hands (and a lot else besides!) dirty in these Tanzanian shambas (farms). For several years now, we have felt so strongly that if we are to work alongside people in rural Tanzania, we must understand their life and livelihood. Over 80% of Tanzanians farm and depend on their crops to live. Many people over the years have asked us if we have a shamba and what we grow. We were always the wazungu (white people) without a shamba. Now finally, (to a small degree) we can relate ... as of last Wednesday, we have a shamba here at home and we are growing maize, beans and (from Thursday) pigeon peas! And during this past week, it has been wonderful to be working alongside farmers in their fields; proudly keeping up with the physical labour in the hot sun! And despite hardly being able to move the day after the first planting, I am so thankful for the opportunity to work again in the villages, this time with Robert, Baraka and Amon and their families.
|Our shamba: A measured line for planting the maize in holes at each cloth marker|
|Joseph helping us plant the beans in the furrow|
|Bean rows looking good!|
|Amon and Esther's house|
|Getting started with Amon ... the first hole for the first seed!|
|Starting with the maize seeds ... and a big bucket of manure!|
|Holes looking good! Planting maize seeds.|
|Time for chai ... hot sweet tea and chapatis!|
|But decided to give a toilet break a miss! The advantage of physical work in the hot sun!|
|Getting rather dirty and itchy!|
|Covering the planted seeds with a blanket of dried grasses|
On Friday, Tim went to Kisesa with Peter and Esther (our trainee trainers). The field had not been so well prepared there, and they were all delayed in starting due to the traffic havoc created by the President's visit to Mwanza, but after a hard, hot day of digging, they had a field of maize and beans planted with Robert, one of our four Kisesa farmers.
|Robert adding compost to the furrow for his beans|
|The church planting school|
... also a home (centre) for Baraka's family and a meeting hall (right) for the church
|Mama Esther prepares tea on an open fire in the classroom! |
(don't worry, the fuel efficient stove project gets going next month!)
|Planting beans in furrows|
|Baraka and 4 year old Anna|
|Little Anna was a great helper!|
|Tim and Anna planting beans|
And still on the subject of planting ... there is a church being planted in a village called Kisamba. And it was here on Sunday that Tim preached to, without a doubt, the smallest congregation he ever has! We had been invited (many times over the past few months!) to visit a church in a village beyond Magu (about 75km from Mwanza). So we arranged to go and were delighted to have Monica (a lovely woman from Bishop Charles' church) and Matilda (a young woman training to be a doctor who also happens to be Bishop Charles' niece) with us to direct us. We had no idea what to expect, but we arrived to find a very small enclosure of sticks holding sheets of cloth around the sides, with a small section of sacking overhead at one end. We were ushered under the sheets and found the six of us sharing the space with the pastor and one woman and six children (not, as I falsely first assumed, a family!)
It was the first time in Tanzania that as invited guests we sat at the very back! We were actually given the best place to sit because the back was the only place which had a small strip of shade from the hot sun. Tim unfortunately didn't have his hat, but smothered on the suncream before standing to preach at the front in the full sun! Three more children arrived as he preached which brought the total number up to eleven. He started with Matthew 13:31 with the parable of the mustard seed which starts small and grows to become the biggest tree of the garden! Our family and Monica and Matilda also turned about to be the choir, so we spontaneously sang Michael W. Smith's song "Alleluia" which we had heard Matilda sing beautifully at her home church a few months ago and so knew it was one we all knew! Amisadai found it amusing that the whole church including all the children and all the guests individually introduced themselves and she tried to imagine how long that would take in our church in Tadley! So thankful for small seeds, praying for a big harvest!
|Tim preaches under a hot midday sun!|
|The Kisamba Congregation with our family and Monica|
At time of writing on Monday, we have just had a call from Amon who tells us
the plants are sprouting! Bwana Yesu Asifiwe!
Praise the Lord for his great love...
For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
-- Psalm 107.8-9 --