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

Saturday, 23 September 2017

All in an Unexpected Week

Well, it definitely wasn't a week we expected. The unexpected death of Martin was a sad shock to all of us. We had not expected to be packing a bag and going back to the airport parting ways again, before we had even finished unpacking! There were many phonecalls and quick plans made on Tuesday. We were sorry we could not all go, but thankful that Tim could fly out to Dar es Salaam first thing on Wednesday, and attend Martin's funeral on Thursday, taking our condolences and sympathy to Esther and also Martin's sister, Penny. Martin will be much missed by his church family at Victory Christian Centre. As his body is returned to the UK, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends there, as they prepare for a funeral.
Family gather to honour and remember Martin
Even though it was only three days, the girls and I were very pleased to have Tim home again on Friday and on picking him up from the airport went and enjoyed a late meal out. It was the first time to eat out since begin back in Mwanza, and Tim and Louisa introduced Amisadai and me to a restaurant new to us - The Copenhagen Burger House! They do a great pizza combo! The other bonus with him being back was that he was able to deal with the dead mouse in the kitchen this morning, as I had started the a battle against the mice while he was gone!


Mamas Good News

While Tim was away, I met again with the Upendo wa Mama Group and was so happy to discover that one of the women had become a Christian and was happily sharing how wonderful she feels with a peace that she has never known; Jesus is with her and there to help her! Fantastic! It was also encouraging for the group to receive the proceeds from selling some of their products in the UK and Canada. They banked half of it and the other half was divided amongst the group. They then all gave contributions from their profits for gifts. And the rest of that story was today...

The mamas all arrived at our house this morning (Saturday). After chatting over chai with sweet breads and fruit, they gave us a gift, especially for Amisadai, to contribute to our expenses to help her get better. After praying for her for so many months, they were so pleased we were all back and so happy she was better, they wanted to give something to "their daughter" in honour of that. We are so blessed by and thankful for these lovely ladies!

When a Land Cruiser Has Limits!

The mamas then all piled up in the land cruiser and I drove us to Mama Laurensia's house. Always an adventure! Trying to get directions from a car full of passengers who have never driven a vehicle can get confusing! I think we turned around at least five times! Attempting to drive up steep rough tracks without being able to get into second gear because of the crowded front seat blocking the gear shift! Being assured that of course we can find the house driving down a particularly rough and rocky narrow path ...been there, done that, got stuck! So I firmly suggested we left the car at the top of the hill and walked on foot down the track to find the house! A good move, I soon realised!

Twins!

It was so very wonderful to see Laurencia again! In April, she gave birth to twins! I had known she was pregnant, but it was a great surprise to find she had two babies! We all had a cuddle with these adorable babies, a boy called Elisha and a girl called Esther! After a refreshing glass of avocado juice, we prayed God's blessing on them and their family. It was so special for us and also Laurencia was so thrilled to have the whole group there at her house with her children!
Mama Laurencia with her precious babies!

All the mamas with Elisha and Esther and their older brother and sister
The showering of love gift-giving continued as we all trekked back up to the land cruiser and drove to the market to purchase another gift. Then we arrived at Samantha and Joel's house! Samantha has been a good friend and support to the mamas and they were so happy about little Ethan's arrival and wanted to bless them. We enjoyed sodas with the family and the mamas were able to give their gift and pray for little Ethan and his family!

With Samantha and baby Ethan and his big sister
Truly they demonstrated we are blessed to be a blessing to others! From what they have received, they gave out in love!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Time

We have now been back in Tanzania for a week! Time is such a strange thing. While at times I can't believe a week has flown by, I also can't believe it was only a week ago we were at the Basingstoke TKS Celebration before heading to the airport; it feels like another life an eternity ago! It is great to be back home and it's been a very busy but good week of meeting up with people and starting to unpack the house and sort everything out! Time to enter another season! After leaving in such a hurry at the beginning of the year, it was so strange finding all these things just left abandoned so many months ago, so many things left undone! Where did that time go?!

The girls were happy to get back to school and reconnect with all their friends! Louisa has started Secondary School and although she was a little concerned about missing the start of the year, is now all caught up and apart from the greater load of homework, enjoying being a Year 7 student! And early on our first day back, Tim started teaching again at the Bible College.

There seems so much to catch up on! While much remains the same, time changes things. So much has changed as people have moved away or moved in, babies have been born, there are new roads ... and far more expensive bananas!

It has been great to have our "team" all together for the first time. We were able to share a meal together at the Ewings home on Tuesday, attend Mkuyuni church yesterday, where we were all warmly welcomed and able to share another meal together with their leaders and then today we had our first Monday morning team meeting all together!

The EI team with leaders from Mkuyuni Church

Warmly welcomed by Mkuyuni Church
(Their building has progressed amazingly in our absence!)
Amisadai and I were happy to finally meet Simon and Victoria and their two children, Tabitha and Reuben! And it was so wonderful to meet little Ethan, the new addition to the Newby family! And it was lovely to have Esther visit with her baby girl, Praise! Born the day before Ethan in May, she too is no longer a little newborn! Esther is doing well and hoping to start doing a couple of days a week for the agriculture project.

With Esther and baby Praise


Peter is doing a great job carrying the Agriculture Project! More on that another time, but just to say he is very busy this week with four days of training in two villages with over forty farmers! We have already had a little rain here and are praying for good rains this year!

I met with the Mamas Group on Saturday for the first time in many months! It was wonderful to see everyone again ...and discover Mama Laurencia has given birth to twins! More on that later too!

But today has been a difficult and sad day. We are grieving the loss of a good friend, Martin Shaw who died very suddenly in Dar es Salaam last night. Martin, like us, moved to Tanzania from Tadley. His wife Esther, in Dar es Salaam, and his children in the UK are much in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. As our pastor in Tadley, Greg, said so well, "We are grateful to God for Martin's clear Christian faith, his commitment to God's kingdom, and his sure hope of eternal life. Martin was a man of boundless optimism and confidence in the future, a man who always made big plans, followed where God led, and who saw many of those plans come to fruition. I will certainly miss his enthusiasm, can-do attitude and practical outlook." We will all miss him.

This photo was taken before either Martin (centre) or ourselves moved to Tanzania,
but here we are with our good Tanzanian friends Huruma and Zakayo at John and Tania's house in England!
And so I end up reflecting on the fragility of our time here on Earth. The priorities we set and those things done or left undone. Those things that time changes and what remains the same. What will I do with my time? And I am left thankful for a solid hope, eagerly anticipating an eternity without time.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The 100km Challenge for the Islands

100 kilometres. Twenty-four hours. The South Coast Challenge. This was the challenge for Sue and Ineke. Starting at Eastborne at 9am on Saturday, August 26th, they (along with about 1600 others)walked (or ran) over the Seven Sisters and along the South Downs Way all the way to Arundel.


We are personally very grateful to Ineke who walked for the Rural Island Health Project on Kome Island! She walked with Sue Fallon who was raising money for the Pads Project in Uganda. And they were incredible! It was a really tough challenge, walking that great distance up and down steep hills across rough terrain. Walking all day in the hot sun and then on through the long darkness of the night with blistered feet.

We went to Steyning, (close to their route) where our good friends, Andy and Angela live. We all headed out at 12:30pm, walking by flashlight from their house to the point on the South Downs Way where Sue and Ineke would pass. We waited in the dark, watching the little lights of the walkers making their way across the top ridge of the hill and down to us at the river.
Looking a bit like a constellation
The walkers as they make their way across and down the hill
It was probably almost 2am when Sue and Ineke came by. We went with them to the food and drink station where they could grab a snack and attend to their painful, bandaged feet. And then we prayed and cheered them on their way! We walked back to Andy and Angela's house, arriving about 3am and went to bed as Ineke and Sue walked on through the night. We later arrived back in Basingstoke at 10:00am in time for church, with the news that they had made it to the finish!

A brief rest at 2am

Sue sets off again

And Ineke is off again!
We are so grateful for Ineke's support of the health project which will serve people on the islands on Lake Victoria. You can read more about this project on the blog ... and will definitely hear much more in the weeks and months ahead! But about the project in a nutshell ... as well as low survival rate in labour for both mother and child, people on these islands experience numerous health issues due to unsafe water and poor sanitation. The Rural Island Community Health (RICH) project will seek to provide medical care and health education for the people on the islands. With an emphasis on maternal and child health, the project wants to engage in preventative and primary healthcare through mobile clinics. Our new team-mates, the Ewing family, are working with Dr. Makori and the local church to move this project forward!

Huge thanks to Ineke for her amazing support and congratulations to both her and Sue for their amazing achievement!


See the link here to read more about their challenge: http://www.eiuk.org.uk/sue-and-ineke-are-raising-funds-for-ei-projects/
And if you would still like to give your support, it's not too late!

(and after saying this blog would continue from Tanzania ... no ... we are still here in England!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Blog is Back

This is the first time I have written a blog update in about five months! Sorry about that! 

Back in February, Amisadai and I rather abruptly left Tanzania with our two small bags, thinking we were coming to England for a few weeks; we have now been away from home for seven months! We were happily reunited with Tim and Louisa two and a half months ago in Canada and now we are together back in England, slightly in limbo once again, waiting for insurance to cover us before we can return to Tanzania.

It is ridiculously difficult to know what to say after five months! It has been wonderful to see so many friends while we have been back ... we have been able to reconnect with many (and make new friends) and it has been strangely familiar sort-of-slotting back into the make-up of life both in Canada and England. Yet there are people we haven't seen, or just had very little time with, and that is always rather sad! It has been particularly rushed for us this time in England; time was shorter with just a month here all together and it quickly became taken up with medical appointments for Amisadai as well as lots of appointments for teeth, eyes and jabs. Then there was the rush to sort out banking and insurance, find school uniforms and shoes, fix computer, sort phone, visa forms... the list goes on! But as we prepare to put all this and some difficult times behind us, I know how much we have to be thankful for!

Fun in the melted ice in Canada!

16 years later ... back to our honeymoon house!
Sandcastles at the seaside in Weston-Super-Mare!

Amisadai attempting to beat gold-winning Greg Rutherford in the long jump at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
First of all, I must start with how thankful we are that Amisadai is so well! It seems we will never really know what caused the respiratory attacks which started a year ago. But she is on medication for colitis and acid reflux and now feeling very healthy! There have been so many tests and appointments and inevitable waiting times, but it does finally look like she is good to go! She has just had the most amazing time at Soul Survivor Camp, and that along with the great times she has had at Taste Youth and with numerous friends in both countries over these months, we are so thankful for!

We are incredibly thankful to Tim's mum for having us stay with her all this time! She has looked after us so well these many months and given us so much. We truly don't know what we would have done without her! Many others in the UK and Canada have helped us out in different ways; being without our own car hasn't been easy and many have helped with lifts. Being without warm clothes and shoes also wasn't easy and many provided those! Being without much extra cash wasn't easy and many have given to us generously! So many friends have reached out in friendship, sharing meals and fun with us. It has been rather a strange and confused year, and in this we are so incredibly thankful for the many wonderful friends we have!

We have been able during our time away to share with many of you about what we are doing in Tanzania. It is always hugely encouraging, especially when things look a little muddled, to look back and see the good things God has done. And that was very true for our Open Days! God has done so much in these past few years, and the way He has used us despite our failings, weakness and uncertainty is such marvellous testimony to Him. It was overwhelming both in Langley and Tadley, to have so many friends with us at those occasions. We are very grateful for the love and support we receive and feel we have a great team behind us!

And so to our great support team ... thank you! We will try to get back into blogging (and be better with newsletters!) as we get back into things in Tanzania. We are excited about being back with much-missed friends there! I am looking forward to getting back with the Mamas group again! We are looking forward to the start of this training and planting season and to harvesting honey with our beekeepers! Amisadai is looking forward to being back at school after a long absence and Louisa is looking forward to starting secondary school. We are excited about this new season working with new teammates doing new things! And we will try to keep you posted on the adventures and challenges that all this entails!

If you would like to receive periodic newsletters or weekly email prayer updates, please email us (rachelmonger@gmail.com) or our link secretary, Ellen, (ellen@thebraithwaites.co.uk) to be added to the list! And if you would like to join in supporting us in any way financially, please drop an email to Ellen or Emmanuel International (UK).  And, please do stay in touch with us when we are away! We will miss you!

And so the blog begins again ... to be continued in Tanzania ...