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

Monday, 4 January 2016

Plagues and Treasures

What's blue and fuzzy and grows all over?
Mould.

I think we have a plague here. Mould is everywhere! We arrived home from Iringa to find that the house is still flooded. Water and mud outside and water within. Still the basement is filling with water. Now the doors down there are rotting so badly that they are falling off their hinges. But while we were away, the damp was rising. We had a damp disaster upstairs and down. Mould had spread over books, clothes, bedding, furniture, kitchen drawers and cupboards. Not on everything, but a very considerable amount to require a very considerable amount of clean-up. The smell of the damp and mould has permeated the house and you could brush the dampness with your fingertips.

It's not only the house, but also our car. Left in the shelter of the house while we were away, moisture entered and now the interior is a ripe green and blue fuzz. The steering wheel looked like it just gained one of those fancy fluffy covers. Unbelievable.

And so Operation Clean-Up begins. And as this already busy season begins, this wasn't on my list of things to do.

Someone recently posted that they admire our perseverance and endurance. Don't. I am trying hard not to grumble, and wish I could say I was succeeding. I'm not. And perseverance is running out! I googled mould and it said to first identify the source of the moisture (!), fix it and then get rid of the mould. Source identified. We've been mopping it numerous times a day for two months now. Fix it? Work in progress; live in hope. As for getting rid of the mould... wearing my hankerchief mask and marigolds, I boil water on the stove and slosh in vinegar solutions. Surrounded by heaps of washing, I wipe the blue and fuzzy mould from books and furniture. And forget about the fact that there is no food in the house!

So in my lamenting, I am now momentarily fleeing the rubber gloves and vinegar solutions of the clean-up operation to sit and write gratefully on positive highlights, in confidence of ending in praise.

With Ezekiel and Mendriad
While we were in Iringa, it was so wonderful to go back to Magozi and Kimande. These are the villages where we started the stove project. We met up with Ezekiel and Mendriad first. After all the happy initial greetings there was a lull and a big sigh and Mendriad broke the brief silence, "this is good. We are back together. We eat together again. The team is back together." And it was so good to be together again.

A few days later, we spent the day visiting the two stoves projects, and we laughed together at happy memories as we travelled about. Some of you who visited us there may remember Ezekiel's  "POPPPP-corn!" or our typical end of meal "Asante Sana Squashed Banana; Asante Sana Squashed Lice!" We laughed at the spot where Jesca "destroyed" a tree in our quest to plant trees when she was learning how to drive! We laughed about the guinea fowl that got tangled in the roof rack before we were mobbed by passengers from the daladala behind us keen to take it home for dinner. We remembered endless games of cards in which Mendriad fell asleep...

But these memories and so many more are far more than just fond happy memories. We are left with the sense of such a deep deposit left from our times together. Reading back on the blog posts of those days (like "Sharing Life" in particular), I see we had plenty of struggles, but now looking back, out of it all, what remains is a treasure. It is like a large bar of gold settling firmly on the dust of what once was trials.

We enjoyed a meal at Mendriad's home. We visited Ezekiel's wife, Bora who two days previously had given birth to their second child! We caught up with Hosea and Yuda and many others. 
In Ezekiel's new house with their new baby girl!

In Mendriad's home (now with plastered walls)
In the morning, we met with the Kimande/Itunundu Stoves Group. They welcomed us back so warmly and it was wonderful to see so many of them there, still working! Within minutes, the girls were surrounded by the children of the village amid the excited cries of "Amisadai! Louisa!"
The children come running to find Amisadai and Louisa!
Amisadai greets the group

The Kimande/Itunundu Stoves Group
In the afternoon we met with the Magozi Stoves Group. These people and this place holds a special place in our hearts. It was the first village in Tanzania that we lived and worked as we started the Stoves Project, and these gracious people befriended us in a special way as we learned how to live and talk! We all met in the church and sang and talked and prayed together. They sent us on our way with huge gifts of rice.

The Ebenezer Group in Magozi
The project that started with this village is growing! Jesca, who worked with us in Kimande is now the Stoves Project Manager and she is running projects in 8 villages now! They have their struggles, but it is exciting to see the progress and especially to see Jesca in action in her new role!

Such a priceless treasure we have stored with these friends. More than any riches. More than any house. And so I am reminded that our house is only a building. Things destroyed by mould or stolen or broken are only things. Yes, I need to do all the cleaning up, but I need not let my focus waver. What is important here? Where is my treasure to be found? When the struggle is past, what will be left? I pray there will be a treasure safe, and not just eroded emptiness!

 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Matthew 6:19-20

2 comments:

  1. You guys continue to go through some tough stuff, but I will say that you are demonstrating to the rest of us endurance and perseverance in the midst of these trials and that proving of your faith is more precious than gold. it might feel like you are not always demonstrating that, but I think God sees it very differently and would want to encourage you with His well done good and faithful servants. loads of love from Grace.xxx

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  2. Thanks for sharing your life with us even when, maybe especially when, it's messy. Hang in there, I'll pray for it to be dry.

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