3 September 2014

TEFL, travel, teaching

Hi folks.  It's been a couple of months since our last update so let's bring you up to date with what we've been doing. TEFL has launched at Sanga Sanga, we've explored new parts of Tanzania, and we’ve had visitors!

Visiting a Compassion sponsored school
linked to our AIC church in Morogoro
In July Steve’s parents (David & Ruth) came out for a 2 week visit.  It was great to introduce them to the distinctive sights, sounds and smells of Africa.  As well as giving them a taste of life in Morogoro we also wanted to give them a mixture of ‘holiday’ Africa and ‘real’ Africa – and so it turned out to be a time of real contrasts: from splashing around in the Indian Ocean to visiting a home for the destitute where those who couldn’t walk simply shuffled around outside in the dirt.  We had a few days on safari in the wilderness of Ruaha National Park, and we visited the home of a widow looking after her grandchildren where the conditions were best described as squalid. We ventured up into the tropical rainforests of the Udzungwa Mountains and swam in clear and cool waterfalls – and we meandered our way around the dusty fruit and veg market where hustle and 
Ma and Pa Lancs meet orphan-carers
in Tabora
bustle reigns and vendors strive to earn what they can.  We also squeezed in a weekend trip to the town of Tabora to visit a Tanzanian friend whose wife runs a community orphan project. David and Ruth’s house-group in Carlisle has been supporting it for the past few years, so it was good for them to see the project first-hand, although heart-breaking to hear the stories of the three widows we visited.  It was great to have had them here and many precious memories were added to the memory banks! 

Standing at the top of the Sanje falls in the
Udzungwa Mountains

Ruth has just finished leading a TEFL course at Sanga Sanga, teaching English to some of the workers there. She has loved doing it, although it has had its challenges.  Her ‘students’ came with a variety of abilities in English, and indeed in literacy – some could speak a few words, some surprised her with random phrases and comments, and one lady was almost illiterate – she could write her name only. But all came with enthusiasm and commitment.  It may have been the first time some of them had been in a classroom for many years but they gave it their best and were proud to receive their certificates at the end of the course. 

Talking of Sanga Sanga, the Retreat House has been well used during August with a number of groups and visitors.  Fran and Felista (bottom right in photo above) have worked hard looking after them all, and we’ve had lots of positive feedback.  Publicity leaflets have been produced and sent out to various places so do pray that word will spread and bookings increase.  We hope that it will become a self-sustaining facility. 

The old and the new - the original church
building in Magambua is on the left!
In August we travelled to Magambua, a small village right in the ‘sticks’ north of Dodoma.  It was the first time Ruth had ever stayed in that kind of setting – truly the wilderness. We were there for a pastors’ conference and Steve was providing some of the teaching – in Swahili again! The theme of the conference was the principles of planting churches. Steve focused on discipleship and prayer in Muslim communities, using real life illustrations from a book called ‘Miraculous Movements’.  We were joined by a couple from the US, Cliff and Becky Boone, ex-AIM missionaries who pioneered the work in Magambua back in the 1990’s when the Sindawe were an unreached people group.  Today there is a church and a clinic, and translation work going on.  We were fascinated by Cliff’s tales of being chased by lions after he’d taken a pot-shot at one with a .22 rifle (apparently about as powerful as a pea shooter!). Thankfully lions are rare visitors in Magambua these days, although we were told there are plenty of snakes.  

Steve teaching in the newly-built Sunday School room
We stayed with an AIM missionary, an Australian nurse.  I was surprised to learn that she had recently replaced her flushing toilet with a 12ft long-drop. Usually it’s the other way round.  But flushing toilets are only as good as the plumbing, and in this case it wasn’t very good! There was no electricity; everything ran off solar power, except the fridge which was gas powered!  We came away very much in admiration of Margaret and the other missionaries there, having learnt a little of some of the issues that face them.  While many in the West would claim to be ‘spiritual’, few would acknowledge the reality of demon possession today, but in Africa it’s sadly very real.  Margaret told us recently of a 16 year old who had come to the clinic and was suffering in this way with frequent manifestations.  As she says, there is no culture in this part of the world without witchcraft and it is heart-breaking to see the results.

On a lighter note, our return journey from Magambua was probably typical of travel in Africa.  We ended up giving a lift to several of the pastors and their wives and 11 of us squeezed like sardines into wherever we could fit.  At one point we realised that one lady had smuggled in a live cockerel under the back seat!  During the conference our driver (we were using a diocese car) spent his time stocking up on supplies so, even before we started loading our luggage on, the roof rack was already bulging with items, including a bed frame! Thankfully our fears for the suspension were unfounded, and we all survived a bumpy journey of several hours on an earth road before hitting the tarmac and offloading our passengers at Dodoma.

Ambrose with his carving of 
the Lord's Supper
We are gradually getting to know some of the people in Morogoro, some through chance encounters on the street. One such is Ambrose.  As a child Ambrose contracted polio. His father hid him away at home, so he missed out on a school education.  Amazingly, in the 1980s Ambrose was able to go to Dar es Salaam where he trained to become a carpenter.  Now he has a small ‘duka’ in Morogoro where he makes wooden gifts, supporting his wife and family.  We suspect that he often doesn’t make enough money to live on.  He is very skilful and produces beautiful items such as carvings of the Lord’s Supper and the Good Shepherd.

Thank you for your prayers for us and the different ways in which you support us.  The next couple of months will be particularly busy with a lot of travel so we would appreciate your on-going prayers. 

Every blessing,

Steve and Ruth

Dates for Sept/Oct:

12-15 Sept         Steve preaching at Iringa Christian Fellowship retreat

23-27 Sept         Steve teaching at pastors’ conference at Ifakara
30 Sept-13 Oct  Steve in Israel leading Oak Hall trip
7-11 Oct            Pastors’ conference in Mbeya – Ruth attending
15-20 Oct          AIM Tanzania Region Conference, Dar es Salaam
23-26 Oct          Pastors’ conference in Dar es Salaam – Steve teaching

Points for prayer:

 Praise God for safety over the many miles we’ve travelled.

 Praise God for good health and the chance to enjoy a holiday.
 Pray for the pastors’ seminars in September and October.
 Pray for Steve as he leads the trip to Israel.

Random photos of the month:

African Fish Eagle - Ruaha National Park

Don't call the fire brigade - it's just a
birthday cake!