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

Friday, 23 October 2015

Rainy Day Soup during Election Weekend

With Mwanza anticipating the arrival of President Kikwete and presidential candidate, John Magufuli, I confidently planned to make soup. And while it didn't start out as rainy day soup, that is what it became.

Yes! You read that! Rainy Day. It was real rain. We have been praying for rain, waiting for rain. And after all the planting we did yesterday, it was a real answer to prayer (but I'll get to that in a bit).

The political rallies and events were to take place not far from our house, and I thought the arrival of these very important figures would at least give us a day of power and I could use my blender. But before the washing machine could finish, the power was cut yet again. We'd settle for lumpy soup. And then with the lights all out, it suddenly became very, very dark. And then the rain began. The lumpy soup became lumpy rainy day soup. At this point it seems like a very good thing. Comforting hot soup for a cold, rainy day. But the rain came harder. And harder. It got so dark, I couldn't see what was going in the soup anyway. And then the rainy day, lumpy soup became rainy day, lumpy, watery soup as rain started to come through the ceiling. I shriek down to Tim "the roof is leaking!" He shouts back, "Stop freaking out!" and carries on working. "But it's raining in my kitchen!" But it isn't yet coming up in floods in Tim's office, so why worry yet?

Now to look at the bright side of all this rain ... it watered a lot of yesterday's hard work! Yesterday, we went with Peter and Joseph to Kayenze to finally begin planting for the Conservation Agriculture project! Remembering that one step forward and two steps back isn't failure, it's just the Cha-Cha, I'll say it's been a good dance. Despite being without most of the group, with no measuring sticks prepared and no beans brought, we danced forward with the guys we had, the seeds we had, in the fields we were in.

Tim plants a row of canavalia beans, intercropping between the maize
There was a bit of a bee cha-cha in here too. When we arrived at Amon's farm, I couldn't see the beehive I had given him back in March when we left. Amon has a mango tree that apparently bees swarm to every year, so we had talked about putting the hive in this tree. I had fully expected there to be bees here by now. But the hive wasn't there and when I asked where it was, he replied matter-of-factly that it was in his house. Inside his house! I was stunned. I was even more stunned, because the other week I asked Amon if there were any bees in his hive yet, and he had just replied, "No, not yet!" While I was incredulously spluttering inwardly, Tim and Peter were laughing. No, there wouldn't be any bees yet. Cha-Cha.

But it was good. Good to see Amos and Alfonce learning the conservation agriculture techniques well, good to be all working hard together. Good to see the job done when our limbs were tired, our bodies were sweaty and our skin sunburned (mine anyway!).
Adding mulch beside the rows of lablab beans

Taking a sugar cane break!

Stopping for chai and a huge shared plate of mashed beans and yams
So the up-side of all that rain today was that all those precious seeds were watered! The down-side may have been my kitchen ceiling and the erosion of our road, but the up-side was that the crowds were staying out of the rain rather than fanning political frenzies on the streets. And that made school pick-up much easier.

Please do continue to pray for peace and safety here in Tanzania over this weekend and into next week as we wait for the results. Today, news of another person with albinism attacked was a tragic reality near Dar es Salaam and we continue to pray for the safety of others with albinism throughout the nation. Here in Mwanza, there is definitely an increasing amount of uncertainty and fear for everyone. We trust it will amount to nothing more than a few skirmishes in town, but the threats and rumours are rampant and there is level of fear that is very uncommon for Tanzania.  We read about people planning to steal cows on the Saturday night before the election to prevent people from voting. We hear about threats of young people who want to hit the polls early and then try to prevent the elderly from voting. We hear about plans to take advantage of the volatile situation and police distraction to commit crimes unrelated to the election. Mwanza is predominantly an opposition party city people talk about what will happen if CCM are re-elected and foul play is suspected. But all of this is still just "talk", and we hope and pray that is all it remains.

And all that said, we are now well prepared sitting tight at home and actually really looking forward to a quiet (metaphorically speaking as it is pretty noisy around here) week at home together. We have flour, Blue Band and sugar, rice and beans stocked up; we've had the "What to do in an emergency" talks, we have fuel in the car, phones topped up and are ready for lazy starts, games, friends and baking. And maybe some more rainy day soup, preferably without the extra lumps and rainwater!

Love this!
A little maize plant springs up from the dry plant we did in Kisesa two weeks ago!

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