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

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Avocado Oil and Grainsacks

There seems so many things I could write about, but my head just doesn't quite know where to start or how to make sense of it all! While there are plenty of good things at the moment to be encouraged about, there are also things that are discouraging, frustrating or sad. This isn't unusual, I know! Life is like this. And it usually all overlaps and intertwines and even in the sadness we find joy and in the discouragements we are encouraged!

Turn my Avacados into Oil

The old motto "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" has been my mantra with parachichi's this week! Parachichi is the Swahili word for avocado. With the mamas groups eager to get making their beeswax products, I have been working on how we supply our own oils. A good place to start was avocado oil ... we have lots of big avocados here and they benefit hugely from bee pollination. And so I tried extracting oil. With Joseph's help... pounding, crushing every part of the avocados, drying for days. And then with my homemade press of cloth and spoons, I squeezed and squeezed. For nothing. So then I started again, trying just the flesh. Pounding and drying. Days later, I squeezed again. I ended up with beautifully oiled and moisturized hands and an oily cloth, but absolutely none in the jug. Not a drop! Now designs are in place for Tim to make me an oil press and I need to find myself a whole heap of parachichi. There is something here about anointing my head with oil that surely my cup will overflow, but I'm too tired to formulate that right now. And sorry, I have no photos of this whole episode. I was too crushed!

Turn my Grain Sacks into Bee Hats

I carried the mantra on into protective beekeeper-wear made out of grain sacks. If you have ever thought about working with this material in your sewing or craft projects ... don't. It's horrible stuff. Scratchy and rough and it shreds by the second. I have given up on the first design for a combined hat/shirt. Amisadai refused to be my model any more based on the fact that she couldn't breathe in it without an air hole. I didn't want to cut the window for the face until I had the rest right. That never happened. She couldn't breathe. So not succeeding there, I tried again with a simpler design; a hat/shoulders design to go under overalls. And this, despite all the fraying, worked better. We have a Mamas Sewing Bee (yes, sorry, pun intended!) in Kayenze next week and I hope we can copy this and get enough made for the beekeepers there. And then another Sewing Bee in Malya the following week. That will be enough of sewing grain sacks for me.
First attempt

Second Attempt

Fuel-Efficient Stoves

I repeated the mantra as Tim and I sat in an empty church building for well over an hour and a half this morning, waiting with 18 mandaazi (donuts) for a stoves group to arrive. We were joined by one man, Daudi, who worked with his machete outside to find the kiln buried in the undergrowth. After much waiting (and another man arriving) we discovered that most of the stoves group has actually now left, with just three remaining. With the two men there, we had a lot of mandaazi to eat. But reflecting afterwards, we realised we can actually be encouraged. We are left with the three best workers from the group. We do hope that they will stay keen and interested, be willing to learn, willing to serve and able to train and teach. There is something deep and meaningful hidden in the undergrowth surrounding this buried kiln as well!
The buried kiln

Earrings and Necklaces!

On an encouraging note, the Upendo wa Mama group has been busy. With more beeswax activity planned for this Saturday, last Saturday they finished lots of cards and earrings and necklaces to sell. Jeni, the new young mother, joined us for the second time and there is another woman with albinism named Angelina, who would like to join as well. She had planned to come on Saturday, but was nervous and didn't come. I hope she joins us this week. Tim has been super helpful sorting out their bank account which has had lots of loose ends to tie up which involved numerous trips to the bank! Again sometimes with all the hoops to jump, all the waiting alone early on Saturday morning in a school playground for any mamas to arrive, it is tempting to think about giving up and going home. But at the end of the day, these women are so special and at the end of the day, it is they that encourage me.

Much about Mulch!

After a discouraging visit to some of the farmers in Kayenze we are working with, we were a little concerned about what we should do. Not only has the weather been extreme and damaging for the crops, also a couple of the farmers have not followed the principles well. It was frustrating and disappointing. But this week, Tim returned with Pastor Amon and was very encouraged by good preparation of farmers who had previously not been at all keen to try the new ideas! One of the most difficult things to teach is covering the soil with mulch, a difficult and time-consuming job! But look (in the photo) at what this farmer had prepared when Tim got there! Tim and Amon (yes, we are really missing Peter at the moment!) also met two potential participants, one of whom had observed the work at Amon's farm and started to implement some of the ideas himself already! Encouraging!
Look at all this mulch!
I have looked at some of the rather more light-hearted frustrations we have seen this week. But it isn't all light-hearted. There has been nothing light-hearted about Peter waiting all week in pain in that hospital for his leg to be set. (He has been told today that he will go for surgery on Friday.) There was nothing light-hearted about the young girl hit to the ground outside our gate at dinner-time yesterday as her phone was stolen from her. There is nothing light-hearted about waiting to go back to England to be with Tim's dad battling cancer.

And while the mantra to try and try again is a good one, there are better ones out there! Sometimes just realising we alone cannot succeed is the best place to be. Sometimes just receiving the anointing of oil on our heads as our cup overflows (abundantly more than out of my avocado) is a reminder that surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. And as for sewing clothes out of grain sacks ... we can be reminded that He has turned our mourning into dancing, taken off our sackcloth and clothed us with gladness!

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