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

Monday, 5 October 2015

Walking Together: Sugar and Rice and a Landcruiser Search

Four bags of sugar, a bag of rice and a basket of money. We are so grateful to be working together with the church in Kayenze! This very small but hugely missionally-minded group had a "Missions Service" last Sunday. And out of what they had, this group of maybe 18 people, gave. And then they gave to us.

It was wonderful because we realised then that we were together! So often people look to us as "outsiders" to provide or give. Often we have received a gift as a thank you for what we have done or given. But as they gave us these gifts, Pastor Amon acknowledged our need and our place with them. He appreciated and shared the fact that the work we are doing, we cannot do alone. Everything we have and do comes from the giving of others. It comes from people in other countries faithfully supporting us each month. It comes from the help we get from people here in Tanzania. We are doing this work together! He encouraged the church to support us in our work; as well as practically helping us, also financially and sacrificially supporting us. Yes, it was humbling to receive such a gift. But beautiful.

Upendo wa Mama (Albinism Mamas Group)
I am also so grateful to be walking together with a group of women who support one another in a humbling and beautiful way! I'm so glad to be back with the mamas again! Last week, after several failed attempts to get together, we finally met on Wednesday and then again on Saturday in that Primary School classroom. I had already met twice with one of the Mamas, but one of those times is another story...

Mama Mary and I met on Monday to try and find one of the mamas, who no one had seen or been able to reach by phone for some time.

It was one of those unfortunately now familiar landcrusier adventures, as Mary directed me where she didn't really know. We ended up on a crazy dirt "road" full of the biggest potholes (which made the "road" disappear) and eventually came out at a primary school where she told me to turn in. I wasn't sure that there was a road out, but we continued ... weaving through the classroom buildings, then through the middle of a football game on the school field until we really could go no further! We continued on foot, but Mary could not remember where our friend's house was. After much asking around, including a visit to the local official, I was starting to get concerned. I knew that the woman's husband had left her and that she had fought attempts made on her girls' lives. I was concerned for her safety and whereabouts.

After fruitlessly searching in the heat, Mary and I discovered that we were looking around the wrong school! So we took directions to another school, which Mary was convinced was near the home we were looking for. I began to worry about how we were going to find our way back home as we travelled on small dirt roads and took turns this way and that, following doubtful directions from people along the way. But to my great relief, two hours after setting out with Mary, we arrived at Mama's house! To find she was out! But we saw her two young daughters (both with albinism) and they said their Mama was fine. We sat with them awhile. We are thankful Mama is physically okay and are hoping we will meet with her soon and have an opportunity to talk.

While I was driving all these roads with Mary, we had plenty of time to chat. It was difficult to hear about her struggles. Her little girl (with albinism) is struggling with her eyesight getting worse and finding it difficult at school. Mary is hoping to get her into Lakeview School, but the fees are high and the sponsorship places are limited with so many children wanting to get in. On her own, she is trying to raise school fees for her other children as well. We talked about the Upendo wa Mama group and how working together the group could help one another, and it was exciting on Wednesday to meet together and talk a plan through into action.

I was thinking about how the profits from the group (small weekly contributions from the group and necklace sales) could be used to help Mary get a loan to pay her school fees. But as the group talked about it at a special meeting on Wednesday, I saw that all the mamas wanted loans. I knew how much Mary needed and knew there was only just enough for that. But she was so immediately willing to share that amount between them all. And they didn't just divide it equally between them. They discussed their needs and some agreed to take less so that others could have more. They also all agreed to hold back some savings for an oven for the benefit of the whole group later on. It was beautiful to see. And the Savings and Loans scheme is now in place and in action, helping these mamas support their families!

That we could all be so willing to acknowledge others needs before our own. To be willing to give and able to receive. That we could all then truly be in relationship, walking "together."
Mama makes some cards with the group this Saturday
Dora and Louisa have fun playing school while the mamas work

Making Christmas cards
*Names in this post have been changed to protect identities

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