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

Monday, 20 July 2015

Time to Go

(Due to my taking a bit of a "blogging break," Tim has filled the gap here! When we first prepared to move to Tanzania over five years ago, we talked about doing a shared blog. After 269 posts, this is now Blog Post #3 from Tim!)

We are now coming to the end of our time in Canada and the UK, time which is often called home assignment, deputation or furlough. It was a time we had looked forward to, meeting our family, friends and supporters, reconnecting to a degree with life here, tasting all the delights we have missed and hopefully having some rest and recharging our batteries. But in February suddenly our plans got put on hold. My father had been diagnosed with a brain tumour; I hastily rearranged my flight tickets and in a week I landed at Heathrow, on Friday 6 March, and met my parents. We enjoyed a few days together before my father underwent his operation on the following Wednesday.
So quickly, it was obvious this time back would be different and all planning would have to wait, as all attention went elsewhere. For me, it was a time of mixed feelings: on the one hand concern as I heard the medical diagnoses but on the other joy at the opportunity of supporting my parents and especially my father. I have always appreciated how sacrificial my father has been to me – I have been at the receiving end most of my life. If we were to measure in monetary terms I would be seriously in debt! Now I had the opportunity and privilege of giving a little, supporting him through the operation, then the treatment and finally the recuperation.

An adventurous walk in the woods

Watch those ice creams! He's behind you!

Fun exploring the Tower of London
What a blessing this time has been! I’m really thankful for it. In fact I actually feel renewed through it. I’m grateful that this time has afforded me the chance to refocus, to see what’s important and what is less so; to glimpse afresh at what is eternal and what is merely temporal. What could we let drop? Amongst other things we let drop trying to cram too much in and trying to prepare the perfect presentations of our life and work in Tanzania. Such presentations we could never have achieved anyway – sharing from the heart is what matters, and I hope we at least tried to do this.

It’s been good to see that life is a gift, so let’s make the most of it in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. I am particularly grateful to the way our daughters, Amisadai and Louisa, have responded, accepting the circumstances without grumbling, but taking every opportunity to love and encourage Grandad. And I think they too through this attitude have been rewarded. I am thankful to Rachel for her support and how she has got on with all the practical things, which in every time still need to be done.

We leave next week to return to Tanzania for another two years, knowing that too is a privilege. May we continue to refocus so that we give ourselves to what is really important there. Being in Tanzania is also a gift. May we use it well, may lives be changed, may love be shared, may hope be imparted.

So as we come to the end of our time in the UK, we are thankful that we can leave with my father getting stronger, and we are thankful for everyone’s support and understanding.