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

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Easter Celebrations in Kayenze

This year was the first time we as a family had celebrated Easter in two continents. Rachel and Amisadai were with Tadley Church in the UK and Louisa and I were in the village of Kayenze for Easter Sunday. Louisa and I had a fantastic Sunday!

We have been working with the church in Kayenze for nearly 3 years now,  helping them run conservation agriculture and beekeeping projects in the community, but this was the first time we’d had the privilege of being together for Easter. Easter, for Christians is the most significant Sunday of the year, as we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death and the new life, hope and peace he has brought. And what joy it was to share this day with our very enthusiastic brothers and sisters in Kayenze.

Kayenze Church gathers at the lakeside
Louisa and I arrived just before 9am, the official start time of the main service, but the Sunday School was still in full swing. Some had been there since 7am when they began with prayer! This church has come such a long way in the time we have been involved with them. 3 years ago there were often just 15 people present and now on Sunday it seemed close to 100 people. Easter Sunday was also the first occasion of trying out the new PA system which has been loaned to them. Thankfully, they haven’t worked out yet how loud the speakers go – a common experience here!

Kayenze Church
At 9:20am we began the service, PA in use but with surprisingly few squeals, but most importantly with voices together in heartfelt unison. I then stood to preach, and we looked at how the disciples had gone from wondering whether they should look for another job to discovering that they (and we also) have actually been given a new job… that of spreading to others the results of Jesus’ resurrection.

The resurrection is the dawning of a New Day of light and life
(painting by Anita Skinner)
After that and dedicating a couple of babies, you might think it was time for a cup of tea and hot cross bun, but instead we walked down to the Lake (just 80 metres away) so that 22 people could be baptised – 5 others had become Christians in the service. Louisa was in great demand, being pulled into the lake more than once, as many of the baptised wanted her in the pictures as part of their record of the day! I was wondering if we might need to come back in a couple of weeks and pray for healing from bilharzia!!
Baptism in Lake Victoria

Before we went for a soda and biscuits with the newly baptised, there was time – and in Tanzania there is always time – to make good use of the new speakers to dance and celebrate one last time!

As we left Kayenze, Louisa and I were grateful for the privilege of sharing Easter with these lovely and life-filled people – yes, we’d sincerely touched something of the joy of Easter.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The In-Between Time

I realised it has been a long (really long!) time since I have written on this blog. For the past few months, it has been a strange "in-between" sort of time of waiting. And so I keep waiting to post on the blog. Waiting for when we might have some actual news. Waiting for results. Waiting for when all my unsettled thoughts miraculously flow into interesting and meditative prose! But the moment doesn't come, so I'll carry on regardless.

Our family has now been living apart for 10 weeks which does feel like a very long time! Something is clearly not quite right with Amisadai and we wait to get to the bottom of it! She has had good days and bad days. Although she is good at putting on a brave face and carrying on, this week she has spent more time in bed in quite a lot of pain. On April 27th, she is going to Southampton Hospital for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy. We really pray that this will give us some (quick!) answers for the way forward. We realise that most likely we are unfortunately not going to be able to go home now for quite a while. Tim and Louisa will plan to join us as we hopefully go to Canada mid-June and then have some more time together here in the UK in August before returning to Tanzania.

But we are not twiddling our thumbs while waiting and Grandma has been looking after us very well! Amisadai has been working to keep up with schoolwork at home. I have been able to get on with admin-type things, research and think about more creative things and start a proposal for project funding. And we've been able to meet up with many friends, including a visit last week to Julian and Zoe's ...

Allecott Farm

We had a great time on the Willford's farm in Exmoor National Park. Amisadai did well health-wise most of the time and was thrilled with the opportunity to get involved with the lambing and spent most of her week in the lambing shed or pairing up ewes and lambs in the fields.

Amisadai after "pairing up" the sheep on the quad with Will

Delivering lambs
Meanwhile I had the opportunity to go with Julian to a good number of his beehives and learn how beekeeping is done in this country. No crazy bee tales this time! Julian and I went to the National Bee Convention where I was able to meet the guys from Bees Abroad who support Julian to come and help us with the beekeeping groups. It was great to network with various people throughout the day, see all that is "out there" and attend a workshop on top-bars!
Julian's Honey Shed

Out to the hives in the Land Rover

The finished product in stock on the local shelves!
We had an afternoon at Quince Honey Farm, where if you are in the area (South Molton, Devon), is well worth a visit to learn all about bees! There I enjoyed afternoon tea (a cup of Earl Grey with delicious Honeycomb on a Teacake) and we met Paddy and Ian, the beekeepers who run the centre and also support Bees Abroad.

On our final evening, we had a fantastic barbeque with Dave (who also came out to Tanzania to help with the beekeeping) and Mary and were introduced to their rather adorable donkeys!

All in all, it was just wonderful to have the time living and learning with Julian and Zoe. We enjoyed walks with the dogs on the hills and drives across the moors. I went to a crafting coffee morning with Zoe's friends as they spun their own wool and her friend, Bev helped me hugely with ideas for the mamas group soap-making (with help from her goats, she has made her own goats milk soaps).

If you would like to stay in this beautiful spot, check out their website here, as the Willfords run two lovely holiday cottages on the farm ... very appropriately named "Honey Cott" and "The Bees Knees."

Allercott Farm nestled in the hills in the centre of the photo
The Exmoor Ponies
I am writing this blog on Easter Saturday. The in-between day. The quiet day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday where nothing seems to happen. For Jesus' disciples, it must have seemed like such a long day. Afraid, tired, grieving. Waiting confused. They didn't realise a new day was dawning. Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, the third day which is actually the first day, is the day we have all been waiting for. Risen. Life. A New Beginning. This is the Hope we now have. Easter teaches us to be patient during the in-between times. Even when we wait in deep grieving, despair, confusion or simply frustration, we know that He is alive. That all our waiting will be over with the dawn on Sunday.

Happy Easter!