2014 is fast drawing to a close and this time next week (18th) we'll be on a plane UK-bound for 2 weeks of holiday and catching up with family! It’s been a year of adjusting and learning; a year of grappling with Tanzanian culture and a year of new experiences – most of them good ones!
|Meeting in the pump house at Sanga Sanga|
Since our last newsletter we have attended two pastors’
conferences – one at Sanga Sanga and the other in Lindi, a 12 hour drive away in the south of the country. The
conference at Sanga Sanga was well attended with over 70 pastors and
their wives coming from all over the diocese.
We all crammed into the very first building put up on the Sanga site,
which is essentially the pump house! We look forward to
the day when our conference hall is built and we can welcome even bigger groups
of pastors for Bible training, fellowship and respite – no pressure Matt Dixon! More details about that next month.
The Lindi conference was the last of 8 this year. As well as Tanzanian pastors and evangelists, it was good to meet up with some of our AIM colleagues who are based in various locations near Lindi, some on TIMO and post-TIMO teams. Lindi is right on the coast and was picture-postcard pretty in some ways but boy, was it hot and sticky! In future Steve will be following the example of the Tanzanians and taking a ‘preacher’s flannel’ with him to mop his dripping brow! He taught three sessions in Swahili and was encouraged to receive good feedback on his pronunciation. That seminar brought to a close his preaching this year on the subject of 'Miraculous Movements' and in the first few months of next year he’ll be preparing talks for the 2015 calendar of seminars.
|The newlyweds shimmy down the aisle|
In the last few weeks we’ve had a couple of interesting and very different cultural experiences; a baptism and a wedding. Tanzanian weddings aren’t known to be brief affairs and we braced ourselves for a long day. The service was due to start at 2pm and we were assured in advance by the pastor that it would start on time. When we arrived at 2.30pm the church was still only a quarter full, the bridegroom was sitting outside in his car (making the most of the AC) and the bride had not yet arrived! When things eventually got underway we were interested and slightly amused to see all the members of the wedding party dance down the aisle – the groom, his best man, the bridesmaids and the bride - imagine that in the UK! The bride came in by herself, sashaying demurely halfway up the aisle where she waited for her groom to come and meet her, he looking rather self-conscious as he shimmied down towards her! He lifted up her veil and the two of them continued up the aisle together. There was a real atmosphere of celebration and of course the music and singing was full on! Needless to say, at the end of the service the whole wedding party shimmied back down the aisle!
In many respects the service resembled a western one,
with traditional vows and giving of rings.
We noticed that many guests drifted in throughout the service but nobody
took offence at their lateness. Oddly, the groom’s parents arrived towards the
end of the whole service, long after the vows had been said, perhaps due to the
traffic chaos in Dar.
The wedding reception was a long, loud affair with lots
more dancing! Although we had only met
the groom once before, Steve was called upon to open the proceedings in prayer –
talk about lastminute.com! The MC did a
great job at keeping things going but even so, the food wasn’t served until 10pm
– mysteriously lots of guests arrived just before that time! After that came the grand presentation of
wedding gifts! First went the two
families, dancing and holding their gifts aloft, followed by friends and other guests, including us, yes, shimmying all the way! We then shimmied right out the door as by
that time it was 10.30pm and that was enough for us!! Although it was a long day, it was on the
whole a good experience, similar to a UK wedding but a whole lot louder!
|The baptism site complete with car washing|