|Our last sunset view from Hotel Quarantine!|
So, what has the situation been like in Tanzania during these past few months? In short, there has been no lockdown, much to the annoyance of the surrounding countries! From the outset the President decided that serious lockdown would be too costly on the fragile economy of the country. Schools, colleges and public gatherings were banned – but he did insist that the ban should not include gathering in church on a Sunday morning! In fact he encouraged people to attend to pray against the virus – and just last week announced to worshippers in Dodoma that “the corona disease has been eliminated (from the country) thanks to God.” We’re a tad sceptical about the elimination part of that sentence, although we’re very thankful to God that the virus does not seem to have caused the devastation that was feared. It’s hard to know the real facts because data on the number of virus cases stopped being published on 29th April, at which point there were only 21 official deaths recorded. Last month there were all sorts of rumours swirling around - of night-time burials in Dar, hospitals being overwhelmed, unreliable testing, and plane-loads of herbal remedies being flown in from Madagascar etc!
Social Distancing – what’s that?!
|Pastor Batano receives a sack of|
flour for his family
Our first scheduled IBM regional seminar of the year had to be postponed back in early June. We’re hoping that the next one on the list will happen in July in Mtwara, way down in the south of the country. With an extended preparation time this year, all of the teaching material has now been prepared and is ready to print – all 64 pages of it, with a Swahili word count of 35,000 words! The pastors and evangelists who attend will be given a full set of notes for two reasons: firstly, they can then use the material in their churches, and secondly, having my notes means they’re able to make sense of my Swahili pronunciation! In terms of the English word count, the notes are 6,000 words longer due to fact that one word in written Swahili often comprises 3-5 English words! Everything is thrown together: tense, pronoun, verb etc! Let me give you a couple of examples so that you can marvel at the language that is Swahili! These five words - “he did not concern himself” become one word in Swahili – “Hakujishugulisha”. If I were to say to you “Let us humble ourselves”, I’d say this word: “Tujinyenyekeze”. And finally the words “When it is preached” become “Itakapohubiriwa”. You can understand why my teaching notes contain a lot of pen marks in an attempt to break up such words to make them easier to say!
IBM seminar dates:
|1. 6-11 July||Mtwara seminar |
|2. 5-7 Aug||Coastal Diocese seminar at Sanga Sanga Retreat Centre|
|3: 2-4 Sept||Ifakara seminar|
|4: 23-25 Sept||Magambua seminar|
|5: 28-30 Oct||Songea seminar|
|6: ??||Monduli Arusha seminar|
|7: 24-27 Nov||Pastors’ seminar at Sanga Sanga Retreat Centre|
|A labour of love! Steve poses with his|
finished teaching materials
These last two months have continued to be busy ones for Ruth. Whilst her monthly ladies prayer breakfast and fortnightly Book Club have been temporarily suspended, there has been plenty to do at Sanga Sanga. The audit of the books in March has led to implementing some new and improved processes, the finance manual has been updated, a new bank account opened (a long-winded process here!) and various reports written for the Diocese. There are always personnel issues to deal with and the usual administration and maintenance that goes with running a conference and retreat centre, even without guests!
One of Ruth’s goals for this term was to find a good person to employ as an Accountant. Praise God that we have been able to appoint a young man who is a believer and seems suitably qualified. God willing, he will start on 1st July and Ruth will spend several weeks training him in our systems and processes.
|The choir of a local Baptist church came to Sanga Sanga|
recently to shoot a video for their new DVD
|Ruth visiting with Sanga Sanga|
housekeeper Fran and her family
Faults & Foibles
Let me leave you with a quote that’s resonated with me over these last few days. It’s from a book called “21 Servants of Sovereign Joy” by John Piper. What a book it’s turning out to be! He examines the lives of 21 well-known saints of old, highlighting their accomplishments, whilst not glossing over their faults and foibles! It’s proving to be a huge encouragement to me – and I’m only on page 258 out of 814! My only criticism is that Mr. Piper does not include Mr. Livingstone! Anyway, here goes with a quote that should encourage you and I: These lives are “a vivid powerful testimony to the truth that God can and does use weak, sick, discouraged, beat-down, lonely, struggling saints who cry to him day and night to accomplish amazing things for his glory”. Onwards in the fight!
PPP: Prayer & Praise Points:
- We’re praising God for the donors who have helped pay our staff salaries recently.
- We’re thanking God that we will soon have a Tanzanian accountant. Please pray that John Masanja will settle into his new role well.
- We’re praising God that Covid-19 doesn’t seem to have hit Tanzania hard.
- Pray for Steve as he begins his last Swahili teaching programme at the various seminars, starting in July; for strengthening and power, for good health, and for hearts that are open.
- Please pray for us both as we enter the home straight of our Tanzanian venture! We now have less than six months before we head home and close up here. Pray we would cross the finish line well. Please pray with us that God would show us clearly what he wants us to do in 2021, and the next chapter of life.
Many thanks and every blessing
Steve & Ruth
|Bird of the month: Saddle-billed Stork|
|Insect of the month: no idea! Any guesses?|