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

Monday, 16 November 2015

Strength and Joy in the Turbulent Times

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

So much turbulence is shaking the world right now. Paris. Beirut. Syria. Burundi.... The atmosphere seems so sombre, although our world has long been broken and hurting. And in the midst of the vast turbulence, all of us face our own small or huge personal turbulent situations. I am just thankful that my strength is not in the governments of this world, not in the success of a crop, nor the rain or the sun. And pertinently for me, especially not in a house in the floods. All these will fail. I will fail. My strength and my joy are in the Lord ... no matter what.

I can't really get my head around my thoughts of the greater turbulence right now. My brain is tired from the lesser turbulence around me. As I write, Tim is stuck in Dar es Salaam, unable to fly in on time because of the turbulent waters in Mwanza. It has been a busy week. I can easily and quickly focus on the frustrations and all that has gone wrong. But while the turbulent waters swirl about, my desire is to keep them off-board. Being in a place of strength and joy rather than sinking with the waters. Treading the heights with the feet of a deer. Looking for the sparks of hope, the glimmers of beauty.

I am rejoicing for the opportunity that Mama Saidati and Mama Wilson have to go to an International Albinism Conference in Dar es Salaam this week! They are excited about representing the Upendo wa Mama Group, taking some of their handmade goods to sell. Some of my recent "turbulence" has come about from the busy preparations for this event. The mamas are enthusiastic to meet and make things to sell, but gathering the group together at one time for a profitable time has been a challenge and involved a lot of "waiting." And trying to keep quality a priority over quantity has also been a challenge!
A busy morning!
After various meetings and plannings during the week, which included ordering, waiting for and picking up our very own "Upendo wa Mama" rubber stamp, we met at the school to do final work on Saturday. As the dark skies thundered ominously, we realised the man with the key was gone! We couldn't get into a classroom to work. We found a spot out of the deep, squelchy mud of the compound, someone ran to borrow a mat, and we got busy on the ground. Again today, heavy rains thwarted plans. Missing all the mamas but one, I ended up driving boxes of soap with Mama Wilson through driving rain to a red container at a bus stand. I can't say I've felt much like we've had the feet of deer treading in the heights, but we do have reason to be joyful!

Now the bus tickets are bought, the soap, Christmas cards and necklaces are boxed up and ready to go. The two mamas leave early in the morning. We have prayed together as a group for their safety as they go. I can't even imagine how it must feel as a woman with albinism, who can neither read or write, who has never travelled to Dar before, to be embarking on this trip! I pray it will be an encouraging and life-changing time for both of them. They have been through terribly turbulent times and my prayer is that they could find real strength and true joy. I can't wait to see them in Dar when I arrive at the conference on Friday!
Bottling the homemade soap
And finally, to finish with some more strength and joy in turbulent waters... water is such an appropriately apt analogy for me at the moment as we vigorously fight the rising floods downstairs every few hours! But while I still struggle to find joy in the basement, this church in Kisesa quickly found joy in the remains of their ruined building. They have been building a church, and had just put the roof on. But the high winds of the other week tore off the roof and the flooding torrents tore through the foundations. And yet the people sang.
The temporary building

The now-roofless frame. The rebuilding begins.
They know where there strength and joy is found. Yes, they see the problems, and I'm not talking about just their own building problems, but also those of their community, faced with harsh weather conditions, poor soil, and a lot of witchcraft. They see misplaced strength and a lack of joy. We are looking forward to working with them in Kisesa, reaching out from where we have been working at the demonstration farm at the School, to the rest of the village.

So yes, these times are turbulent. The history of our world has always been turbulent. But yet we can rejoice and have strength. In God, when all else is failing around us, we can rise above and tread the heights with our feet like the feet of a deer. And this is my prayer for friends, and also suffering strangers, in turbulent times now.

Singing in Kisesa Church from Rachel Monger on Vimeo.


  1. Beautiful heartfelt worship-so lovely to hear. may you go from strength to strength climbing those high places in the midst of all the things that happen. You continue to be His light in the darkest places and shine brightly for Him. You are all amazing. Love to you all. Grace.xxx

    1. Thank you, Grace! Thinking so much of you with your move and especially Grace's wedding next week! God bless you!


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