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

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Some Precious Girls

Sarah* had her first baby when she was just 12 years old. She was the same age as our Louisa is now. Now Sarah is 19 and by herself with two children. She is one of the 23 girls living at the Shelter long-dreamed of and recently set up by Carol Nzogere (Mwanza International Community Church). The girls range in age from 12 to 19 and their stories are heartbreaking. Teenage pregnancy, family rejection, death of parents, poverty, prostitution, female genital mutilation, witchcraft … these are the real life themes of their stories, but should not be defining who they are. 

These girls have dreams of being teachers and doctors. They want to go to school. They long for love and acceptance, for friendship and laughter. And this home for the girls is going a long way in helping them redefine themselves. They are being cared for, loved and taught. They are finding God and experiencing His love through Carol and others working with her. 

Baking class

Making Ginger Biscuits
It has been a real joy and privilege to visit with these girls! We have been doing some classes on baking. The girls have learnt to make breads and buns, biscuits and cakes. They are so keen to learn and eager to try – and despite all the challenges with power cuts and oven troubles, we have had a great time!
Their first cakes
Eager to try a piece of cake

Unfortunately, we had a little trouble with the first bread!
In the “waiting” time of rising or baking, we have read the Bible together. We are so grateful to Tadley Community Church for providing each girl with their own Bible! Thank you so much! It is so wonderful to see them all reading them, and bringing them to church on Sunday! And it makes Bible studies a lot easier! They enter into discussion readily and we have drawn truth and encouragement from reading for example, about Sarah, also a breadmaker, and someone who also learned about the truth of God’s promises.

Bible Study time
The girls are delighted with their Bibles!
They need your prayers. The challenges are huge. Each girl has her own struggle with where she has come from and how to move into hope for the future. There are personal spiritual struggles. There are physical battles with sickness and pregnancies. Many of the girls really need to go back to school but there is no money for school fees, books and uniforms. And there are huge challenges also for the home. Right now it is hard just to feed all the girls and they are struggling to get food each day. In time, they hope to start a bakery to bring in some much needed money. The girls are also learning to sew and producing bags to sell. Please pray for provision for these girls, that needs could be met. If you feel able to help in any way, please get in touch with us as we would just love to see some of these girls sponsored for schooling as well as having enough food to eat. Thank you!

*name changed

Monday, 5 February 2018

Bread and Tallow

I was rendering tallow at the weekend. It brought back happy memories of those days we had pigs. Unfortunately this tallow was not from our own pigs ... Tim still needs some convincing! But before I show you how that went, let me tell you about the latest what's cookin' with the mamas...!

... Bread!

With our long-awaited new oven and new baking materials, the Upendo wa Mama group are now learning to bake! So far we have made some lovely loaves and yummy ginger biscuits. We are going to spend a fair bit of time over the next number of weeks learning and practicing. I hope they will learn well and be able to put these skills to good marketable use!

We did laugh at our cross-cultural confusions in the bread baking. When the first loaves came out of the oven, they looked wonderful to me. Nicely risen, good crust, good colour. But the mamas didn't seem quite so thrilled about them. I asked them what they thought. The general consensus was that next time, after the second rise in the bread tins, before we put the tins in the oven, we should take a large, sharp knife and nicely level off the dough at the top of the tin. I was horrified at such a suggestion! All that time beautifully rising and then you cut the top off! Why? The women pointed at the finished loaf, saying it had all overflowed the tin, it was like a mountain, all protruding up over the edges. It should be a nice square shape. And then I understood. The only bread they see here is the store-bought bread which comes completely square with no beautiful crust! This was just too different and clearly not quite right!

The first loaves (as you can see, they rose into the roof ... shelf now lowered!)
Kneading the dough
Sixty-five Ginger Biscuits
Packaging the biscuits
While we waited for the bread to bake, we read together about the Bread of Life in John 6:25-40. The woman shared quite a lot as they were reflecting on this. Jesus is not simply giving out bread, but He IS the bread! We don't want to be seeking the miracles and gifts, but seeking first Him. He, Himself, is the treasure.

Here is a quick one minute clip of the baking in action in our workshop!

Rendering Tallow

This week, as well as bread baking, we are making tallow soap. Trying to explain (rather physically) in Swahili to the man on Saturday who was slaughtering a pig, that I wanted the waxy-coated mass of leaf fat from beside the kidneys of the pig, was amusing. Then I got busy rendering the tallow. Yes, very cool.. and very little-house-on-the-prairie! It was actually rather more time-consuming and also smelly than I thought! The whole house stank ... and so, my girls told me, did I! As Amisadai said, I smelled much worse than a pig ... I smelled like dead pig. She was quite right.

Here is the process from start to finish ...

Fresh fat from the pig! 

Chopped finely and in the pot to melt

Getting there!

Strained and golden fat in the dish to set

The next morning

But the end result was these beautiful (odourless) bricks of pure white tallow. And the next end result on Wednesday, will be some lovely coconut soap!