|Rachel and Ruth celebrating their birthdays|
Musings on the Ifakara Conference: To boldly go where few fear to tread! Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but our travel guidebook did tell us that “few travellers ever make it to the Udzungwa National Park, and fewer still follow the road further south to Ifakara”! And there’s a good reason for that! The dirt road is bumpy and dusty for much of the way, and it’s a dead-end town unless you happen to be heading to the Kilombero swamps or the Selous National Park, which is a wilderness area twice the size of Belgium!
|Good to see so many smiling faces at the end of the conference|
My eight teaching slots went well and I found that I was more relaxed and ‘at home’ in pronouncing and emphasising the content of my talks on the Holy Spirit. The man who helped to lead the conference was a young pastor by the name of Tobotobo and, although it was his first time in leading an IBM conference, he did a top job and we worked well with each other. He was obviously taking his role seriously, because on the third day he turned up wearing a second-hand Lufthansa pilot’s jacket! It’s amazing what you can pick up on the street-stalls of Tanzania! It was also encouraging to see the pastors send round the collection basket on a couple of occasions in support of their colleagues who were in need, and a few pastors even made a small contribution to the costs of the seminar.
On our way home, Pastor Shadrach asked us to call in at his house because he wanted to give us a gift. We arrived in his village, and were ushered into a small room which was no bigger than your average garden shed, and which had a huge ‘Jesus’ picture stuck to the coarsely plastered wall. Even though it was only 10am we were then served a lunch of rice and beans, which had been cooked in a makeshift kitchen outside. Meanwhile, the children of the village had gathered excitedly around the car and were fascinated by their own reflections in the metallic paintwork; a sure sign that there weren’t too many mirrors hanging up in their homes!
The Tanzanians are big on washing hands before meals! Go to a Tanzanian home to eat, and out comes the washbasin and the soap, normally brought to you where you’re siting. During the Ifakara conference we ate at the church where the meetings were held but before every meal, a long line of pastors formed, first of all to have their hands washed, and then to collect their rice, beans and ugali, which would often be eaten with the hands, and not with cutlery. And on every occasion I observed the same pastor quietly standing with jug and soap in hand, offering to ‘pour water on the hands of’ his colleagues; offering to serve and therefore be the last in the queue for his meal. Quite often the issue of servant leadership seems to be a hard one to grasp in the Tanzanian church, so it was encouraging to see this pastor selflessly serving, and putting others first, without drawing attention to himself; an example I need to heed particularly at a time (26 months in!) when the patience levels begin to wear thin and the annoyances seems to be magnified, and the last thing I feel like doing is serving others! Let’s make it our aim, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be a people who delight to pour water on the hands of others.
Prayer & Praise:
- Praise God for safe travels and a good holiday.
- Thank God for a top Ifakara conference, where the Swahili flowed and where people seemed hungry to learn.
- Praise God for good progress on the construction of the conference centre. Still at the foundation stage but great to report savings made and no injuries to the 53 workers on site!
- Steve has been below par in terms of general health for the last few weeks, so would be grateful for prayer in terms of stamina and energy as we approach a busy two months of conferencing, the first of which starts on the 2nd Sept. Pray that God would use us both.
- Pray that the AIM Tanzania conference in October would be special! That God would really use Eddie Larkman and the team from Corsham Baptist Church to speak into lives.
1st Sept: Travel to Iringa
2nd-4th: Teaching at Pastors' conference
5th: Return to Morogoro
13th: Preaching at the Shed Church, Dakawa
22nd: Travel to Magambua
23rd-25th: Teaching at Pastors' conference
26th: Return to Morogoro
14th-19th Oct: AIM Tanzania Conference in Dar
19th-22nd: Our Corsham Baptist pastor and his wife staying with us
30th/31st: Bible teaching at Church weekend conference in Iringa
|Can't see this labelling taking off in a UK supermarket!|
|Maybe this is where the Army got it's camouflage idea from?|
|One of the children playing outside|
the Ifakara church