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

Monday, 31 August 2015

The Offering: One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato Gone!

The road reminded us of moguls, just without the snow and without the slope. Steep ups and downs seemingly endlessly into the distance. Some deep dips were like craters! Slowly, continually up-down-up-down in the hard, dry, dusty ground. Then the moguls became more like speed bumps. Relentless, equidistant bumps, one immediately following the other. And if that were not enough, when we came out of the bumps, we moved on to the washerboard. Small, closely packed ridges that made one feel as though being scrubbed on a washerboard. A noisy, jarring, bumpy early start to the day on Sunday!

The Moguls
The Bat in the Net
But we (with Peter) made it to Kayenze by 9:15am, a little late for adult Sunday School. It had been such a long time since we were with the church there and we were warmly welcomed back. Tim preached in the main service at 10am - his first in Swahili for a good few months! Although he preached really well and was very appreciated by all, the girls and I were somewhat distracted by the plight of the bat above him...

Kayenze is a fishing village, which is why old fishing nets seem to appear for different purposes and in random places. Old nets were covering the window at the front of the church and they were stuffed into the cracks of the roof. This was rather unfortunate for the poor bat who flew into the net hanging down from the bit stuffed in the cracks in the roof. I am not a bat-lover, but I watched with sympathy the valiant and desperate efforts of this bat to escape. The poor thing was in such a tangle of net and I never before realised how delicately arm-like a bats wings are when folded up. But the more it tried, the more tangled it became and then once it tried to flap open his wings, things got even worse. As it squealed quietly, I thought about how often we try to do things ourselves and only get in a "flap" and end up getting more tangled than we were when we started. But a little patience for someone with the scissors to come and help can make all the difference between life and death. A good reminder for me not to try do things on my own, in my own frantic or misguided strength but to depend and wait on the One who can save!

The bat in the net
Burn Tragedy
Pastor Amon shared with the church about two funerals. One for his friend, another pastor in Kayenze, just 44 years old. And the other tragically for a six-year old little girl whose death from injuries was sadly common but so preventable. She was walking past the three-stone fire where her mother was cooking when her clothes caught fire. Having not been taught to "Stop-Drop-Roll" she and others tried to remove the burning clothes. Her father took her to the local clinic with serious burns; they sent her on to the big hospital in Mwanza. The father returned to the rest of the family. But by the time they returned the next morning, she had died from her injuries. This reinforces for me the somber importance of including burn prevention and treatment as part of the teaching we do with stoves and health.

Under the Mango Tree
After the service, we enjoyed time to meet with members of the church outside while Amisadai and Louisa gathered a crowd of kids and young people under the mango tree and started an impromptu English lesson and hunt the Bible reference in the Swahili Bibles. A short while later, we returned inside with some of the other pastors from Kayenze for a meeting to discuss plans for the upcoming conservation agriculture training seminar and project. It is exciting to be starting this next phase, now working with many more farmers from this village. Working with the churches, we are praying for transformation for this village. We later talked to Amon about his harvest while we were away, knowing it had been a very difficult season. He did lose a lot, but he said he got over three times as much from the small plot farmed in the new way. And his soil is improving with a year of nitrogen-fixing crops.

Discussing plans for the agricultural project
(the bat still struggling there in the top left corner)
After our early breakfast, bumpy journey, adult Sunday School, main service and then project meeting, we were more than ready by this time for our lunch! We, along with Pastor Amon and others, went to the home of a lovely family in the church. The girls and I sat in and under a dense passion fruit canopy with the mamas finishing cooking on the three-stone and charcoal fires. And then we moved inside the house to enjoy the rice and beans and even goat meat which was prepared so generously for us!

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato Gone...
After finishing our late lunch and saying our farewells, it was time to head home. We decided to take a different and possibly better route back, but not knowing the road, Pastor Amon who was going almost that way, offered to lead us on his motorbike. With his white suit and black sunglasses he looked like something from a James Bond movie biking across the dry, dusty track!
Pastor Amon leads the way!
All went well for a short while, but after stopping to check the rear doors on our vehicle were shut properly, Amon couldn't get his bike started again. After many failed attempts, Peter got out and pushed him on the bike and he was off again! Not much farther down the road, we noticed the church offering come loose on the back of the bike. Amon started losing the offering, one potato at a time. At first, we thought it better not to stop for the sake of a potato with the risk of the bike not starting again. But when more potatoes started bouncing off onto the road, to the happy surprise of people walking along, we thought we better honk him down. We caught up and I leaned out the window, shouting "VIAZI!" pointing to the potatoes on the back and behind him on the road. After securing the potato bag offering (with the engine running), we were back on our way.

We stopped at Amon's home to see his wife and daughter, Anna (who is friends with Amisadai and Louisa) and congratulate them on the birth of their baby girl, Annis, born just before we left Tanzania in March. Back on our way again, we were approached rather closely by a herd of cattle with enormous horns! One of cows, shoved by the others, thumped into our vehicle, but thankfully it was one without horns! And then we were home around 5:45pm, ready for a cup of tea!

On a completely different not, we recently took our blog off Networked Blogs. It could just be we are getting too long and boring in our old age and thus interest dropped, but did Networked Blogs make a difference to anyone?


  1. So great to read your news guys. I read your blogs by email now, but checking I see that you have no comments...which simply won't do, so here is the first of many I hope - and not just from me!
    Love the bat story and the parallels of struggle, patience and release in our own lives. But deeply shocked to hear about the little girl who died after the burns. How much we take for granted here about life and safety.
    Praise God the car wasn't taken out by those awesome horns or the moguls ...just reading about it made my stomach churn!
    Surely Pastor Amon is the most stylish pastor around; great shot...who got it?
    Love to you all from me and the boys, Ellen xx

    1. Thanks so much, Ellen! I was beginning to feel I was typing into the abyss! Glad that comments still work and removing networked blogs hasn't been a problem! Definitely agree with you on Pastor Amon ... but my shot wasn't that great; I had to crop off Tim's nose off :) Loads of love to you and the boys!


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