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

Sunday, 5 January 2020

A Good Year End!

Before Christmas it was a fantastic, (albeit exhausting!) flurry of activity and also sales for the Upendo wa Mama group! We have so much to be thankful for!
Mama Monika dips candles
Always a laugh in the workshop! 
In the first week of November, there was a Charity Fair at the International School. This was followed by a busy week with Emma, coming for the second time from Trinity Western University in Canada, working on a project aimed at helping mothers of children with albinism. She came with her two professors involved in the project, Barb and Sheryl, and it was wonderful to have them all with us. They are doing such great work and were just so encouraging and loving to all of us.
It was a lovely treat for our whole family having these three!

Sheryl and Barb with us at the Mamas workshop!
The following week both Penina (Upendo wa Mama Chairwoman) and I went to Dar es Salaam to meet with the group there to prepare for the big Artisan Market. Emma, Sheryl and Barb had gone on before us, working at the UTSS office, and it was lovely to meet up with them while I was there!  It was unbearably hot (Penina was struggling with the heat even more than me!) but we survived! We spent two days of preparation at Mama Happy's; on the second day were also joined by Emma, Sheryl and Barb, giving time to the women to share their stories, there heart, their heartache.
The Upendo wa Mama Dar es Salaam Group

With these lovely women who treated me to an amazing dinner on my first evening in Dar!

What a treat!
I can't really seem to put all of those five days into words! Finding Uber taxis who would take me from my little 'guesti' all the way out beyond Pugu is the first challenge at 6:30 in the morning. Then driving for over two hours in crazy traffic. Then working in extreme heat with an oven and gas stove with hot beeswax in a small space with many women. And then when the work is done, unable to find an Uber taxi that will come and pick me up! Both days I ended up traipsing on foot down the dirt road with either Faudhia (the new amazing UTSS staff member!) on the first day or Penina on the second day, from Mama Happy's house with armfuls of materials and products! Getting to the main road and then walking until a daladala (small minibus) passes by … then squeezing (yes, literally, SQUEEZING) in and riding it until we are in "Uberland" once again (nearer the city) and can find an Uber taxi to get back to my guesti. By which time I'm very hot, very hungry and very tired! But at the same time, it is just wonderful working with these women and so encouraging to see them so enthusiastic! And it was particularly wonderful this time to have Penina with us all, and for the first time see a real connection between the two groups!
Cutting beeswraps

Making Lotion Bars

The road back
The day of the Artisan Market, was extremely hot … so hot that we had to change our table as the lack of shade (even as we set up at 8am) was dangerous for the people with albinism (and indeed would have fried my white skin!) and was also was melting all the beeswax! It was a long day, but it was wonderful! The women did so very well. It was the second time the Dar group had sold at a fair and with help from Faudhia, they were amazing! We sold a record amount of products and found new customers and received more orders!
Smiles all round! (and yes, that is sweat my T-shirt is soaked in!)

With Faudhia, our amazing UTSS helper!

Also while we were in Dar es Salaam, Penina gained a granddaughter! There in Dar, her daughter gave birth and Penina was able to go straight to the hospital from Mama Happy's!

The following Saturday, it was the Mwanza Fair … so another crazy week on our return, quickly replenishing stock after the success of Dar which had cleared us out! And then I had three days before leaving for Uganda in which the group had to finish orders going to lodges in Maasai Mara, Kenya and also Zanzibar! Whew!
At the Pasha Craft Fair in Mwanza

When I returned from Uganda, we went to visit Jeni, one of the group who recently had a baby. Yes, there has been the arrival of three babies in our group recently (daughters for Jeni and Zuena and a granddaughter for Penina). All of us piled into the land cruiser and in terrible rainstorm conditions drove over 2 hours out of the city to find her house … which proved harder than we thought and on some rather muddy roads!

But it was lovely to see Jeni and meet her little daughter! We shared chai and cake and then, when I thought we were leaving to return to Mwanza, we actually starting cooking lunch! We stayed to enjoy a meal of rice and chicken together which was lovely! It was a really special time of thanksgiving as we finished our work for what has been an amazing year of growth! We read together Mary's song of praise as the season of advent dawned and we celebrated the joy of birth and the goodness of God to us all! And then we headed back to Mwanza, again in rather torrential rain!

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!"

Cooking lunch at Jeni's

Enjoying lunch together

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Friends and a Wedding in Uganda

The poor blog has been sadly neglected once again! But I thought many of you, shared friends in particular, would love to see the joining of friends from across the world in Uganda! 

I had the wonderful privilege of travelling to Uganda to visit long-time friends in November. I don't remember the last time I went anywhere on my own just for fun and it felt a little strange and indulgent at first! But oh so fun!

I left home very early one morning to catch the 6am bus, appropriately named "Friends!" We crossed the Mwanza Gulf on the ferry and continued on through Geita and on past Bukoba. We crossed the border late afternoon and then arrived in Kampala at 10pm. It was so wonderful to see Karissa and Adrienne! Karissa, (a long time close friend going back to my class at school) was visiting her sister (also a dear friend) who is a missionary on assignment in Kampala with her family, and it was the perfect opportunity to have a lovely time all together again for the first time in years! Chatting in the dark on mattresses before going to sleep brought back many memories of childhood sleepovers … I don't think any of us could believe we are actually 20 years older than those days! It was such a lovely time of chatting over coffee and chocolate mousse out and making special cups of tea to have with butter tart bars at Adrienne's house! Time with Adrienne's family and meeting some of the Father's Heart Mobility team and hearing more about their fantastic ministry. It was lovely to worship at their church on Sunday and also meet Francis' (Adrienne's husband) family at their home outside Kampala. 
December 1st Christmas Tea
Out for Coffee!

Exploring beautiful gardens

The amazing thing was that Karissa's visit coincided with the wedding of another dear friend, Jennie! What a joy to also be able to share in celebrating her marriage to Denis at Kasana! I was able to travel from Kampala to Kasana with yet another wonderful friend, Laurena who flew in from BC for the occasion. It was such fun to be roomed together for the wedding weekend  … although in the whirlwind of wedding preparations amid her jet lag, we had loads of fun but not so much time to have proper chat! 
With Laurena
It was wonderful to catch up with all the Dangers family again! We were last with some of the family in Uganda five years ago, but memories go back a long time to school days in Langley, BC and early visits to Uganda as a teenager! It was also great to meet Jay's sister and husband and Jennie's bridesmaids! It was a very special Thanksgiving that Thursday evening, such a privilege to share with the family in thanks to God for so much! The thanksgiving continued on Friday morning with a precious time with Jennie and the "girls." Such a testimony to God's goodness! 

Bridesmaid dress alterations with Jay's sister, Joy
The wedding was on Saturday morning. It was an incredible day! An early start and bustle of activity with dresses, hair, flowers, breakfast … And then all was ready. The wedding was under a huge tent with 1500 people in attendance! So many who love and appreciate Denis and Jennie! And people from all over! It was great to catch up with people I haven't seen in many years, and people I knew of, but had never met in person! It was a fabulous celebration of marriage! 
Flower arranging

Before I knew it, the time had gone and I was back at the Kampala bus stand. We were supposed to leave at 10:30pm, but as the bus had broken down, we had to wait until past 1am to leave! It was fun to be with the same group of nuns who had arrived on the bus with me, to attend a retreat! But it was a long night and day! We arrived at the border at around 5am, rather wet as there was torrential rain and the windows didn't seal! The nun sitting next to me had a choking attack which was rather frightening … but was thankfully ok. And then eventually I was home at 7:30pm. Yes, I was very glad to get off!

And as I arrived home, Karissa set off on her journey from Kampala to Vancouver. On the way, she became seriously ill, landing in hospital on her arrival home with malaria and sepsis. A terrible and frightening end to an amazing trip, but we are just so very thankful that she is recovering now at home.

Sometimes the world feels so huge and places very far away. But then at times it seems a such a small world and even time seems to have hardly passed! Friendship is a lovely thing that so often seems to be able to forget great distance and time! Thankful for friends over time and all over the world!