8 November 2015

Changing seasons

In the last week the short rains have arrived.  We're enjoying the cloudy skies and the vegetation that's springing to life again after several months of no rain. When the rains finish in a few short weeks temperatures will rise again as the hot season arrives.

These changing seasons are reflected a little in our ministry lives too.  We have now completed all of the Institute of Bible & Ministry's regional conferences, meaning that Steve has completed his teaching on the Holy Spirit that he began preparing for in January, and we won't be travelling as much now.  Of course, there is always administration and finance work to do so Ruth will still be busy!

On the road to Magambua, among
the towering baobabs
The last regional conference was held in September in Magambua, a village in a rural part of Tanzania.  Steve taught three sessions and guest speaker Cliff Boone from the USA spoke on the principles of church planting in different cultures.  As well as getting to know the pastors who attended, we enjoyed catching up with the other AIM missionaries in Magambua who are involved in medical and translation work there.  We had a memorable evening being regaled with Cliff’s story of how he once shot a lion that wandered past his house when he was a missionary in Magambua many years ago!  (FYI, he didn’t kill the lion, although it was killed by villagers a few days later to stop it taking their livestock.)

This last week the Institute of Bible & Ministry held a conference for AICT evangelists and their wives at Sanga Sanga.  Around 70 people attended, many of whom we met during the regional conferences over the last few months.  Phil Morrison, our AIM colleague and Director of the Multi-Church Pastor Institute in Kenya, was guest speaker together with the Bishop of the AICT’s Coastal Diocese.  There was a great vibe around the place and during breaks you could see small groups of people sitting together chatting and catching up, sheltering from the hot sun.  The sound of 70 people raising their voices in worship (no instruments!) was truly wonderful.

The queue for lunch was pretty long!

Last month the AIM Tanzania Conference took place in Dar es Salaam.  Steve and I and another couple were the main organisers so, as you can imagine, we have been rather busy lately!  It was a lovely time of catching up with friends, getting to know others better, receiving good teaching, enjoying lively worship in English and taking the opportunity to rest and relax.  It was wonderful to hear of how God is working in the places in which AIM members serve and of how Tanzanian believers are ministering to their countrymen and women.  Our pastor, Eddie Larkman, from our home church, was the main speaker and it was so good to be under his teaching again and to spend time with him, Kathy his wife, and the team from Corsham Baptist who came to run the children’s programme.  The team was a huge hit with the kids who were often seen queuing up early during breaks in their eagerness to get back into the children’s room.

Eddie & Kathy at home
with us in Morogoro
After conference Eddie and Kathy spent a couple of days with us in Morogoro. We enjoyed showing them round ‘our’ town and taking them to visit Bibi.  Bibi
(‘grandmother’ in Kiswahili) is a Christian lady (from a Muslim background) who attends our church.  She is raising 5 grandchildren on her own, lives in a couple of mud-walled rooms, is 80 years old and weighs 29kg.  We suspect the food she can afford to buy goes largely to the children.  We took her a bag of rice but I think she was mostly blessed to receive guests.  How unlike our western culture in which we prefer to have visitors ring in advance rather than turn up unannounced.   

Election fever!  Sunday 25th October was a significant day here in Tanzania and our first taste of an election in Africa.  For the past few months the country has been awash with the colours of the various political parties with flags and huge posters appearing all over.  For the first time in 54 years there was a serious challenge to the reign of the ruling party with the opposition of four coalition parties.  Thankfully election day passed off fairly peacefully, although there were outbreaks of violence in a few places (not Morogoro) and protests about irregularities in the voting process.  Our team kept a low profile during this time, mostly staying at home.  We pray that God’s chosen leaders for this country will lead with justice and compassion.

The columns are rising at Sanga Sanga
The construction work on the conference centre at Sanga Sanga is progressing speedily, thanks to Matt Dixon’s good management.  Recently the cement slab was laid—all done with manual labour (no cement trucks here!).  Dozens of fundis went to and fro carrying buckets of cement on their heads, all in the blazing sun.  We are in awe of their strength and capacity to cope with the heat!  As you can see in the picture, the cement columns are going up too.  If you’re on Facebook you can keep up-to-date with progress—just look for Sanga Sanga Retreat Centre and Campsite.

We are happy to have our teammates Tony & Cath Swanson back with us having returned from their home assignment a few weeks ago.  Our thoughts are inevitably turning to our own home assignment which begins in March next year.  It seems amazing to me that we are nearing the end of our first term in Tanzania.  Where has that time gone?!  We are so grateful to God for helping us reach this point, feeling settled, coping with a new language, new culture and a new climate, and being useful in the work we came to do.

Our plans for home assignment are far from fixed at present but we will be spending time with family and friends, taking some holiday, and visiting various churches that are supporting us.  We intend, God willing, to return to Morogoro in September, if our teammates will have us back!!

Thank you, as always, for your support, prayers and encouragement.

Many blessings,

Steve and Ruth

Prayer and Praise:

  • Praise God for the AIM Tanzania conference, for refreshment, good teaching and renewed relationships.
  • Pray for Tanzania’s new president and government.
  • Pray that the evangelists who attended the recent conference will be refreshed and equipped for their ministries.
  • Pray that God will guide us as we make plans for home assignment.

Random photos of the month:


Whoops!  Someone forgot to
build the steps