Christine and Peter were Mission Partners with NZCMS in Tanzania on two separate occasions. They were based in Dodoma for 19 years from 1979 to 1998, involved in pharmacy work and teaching and, more recently for three years from 2015 to 2018 based in Kondoa supporting the work of Kondoa Bible School. The following tribute was written by Peter Akester which he also read at Christine's funeral on January 9.
Names are a significant part of any person, I believe. Christine Joy - or Griptine as she was fondly known by her mother - morphed into Chris in her teenage years. In Tanzania she was Mama Peter before we had Pendo come into our family. She was then called Mama Pendo and most still call her that there. Christina was what some close friends would call her. Mwalimu - which means teacher - had significance to many. Back in New Zealand she became Chizzy to our girls and many of their friends. To our grandchildren she is known as Bibi. Over the last three years in Tanzania recently she took on another name after I was ordained: “Mama Mchungaji” which means “pastor”. Those tell a bit of her history but only touch on who she was.
She was passionate about music and enthusing others to appreciate and express themselves in music. She was someone who always wanted to give time to show she valued every person she had contact with. For example, on the last night before our wedding she insisted on seeing a student of hers to care for her and listen to her – two hours later we left that home despite all the other preparations that were left on hold until the early hours of the morning.
She was always keen to learn something more about her faith and the Bible and its relevance to her and to others. An encourager and supporter of many with the hope that they would grow in their faith and work. She valued family even though we often found ourselves far apart geographically. Her weekly letters home over all those years in Tanzania were witness to that.
She was involved in Sunday School, Bible in Schools, numerous children’s choirs, teaching in the Tanzanian Girls’ Secondary school for their Christian education and more recently being part of the Teacher’s College Christian gatherings in Kondoa, Tanzania.
A passionate and loving mother and my partner for 45 amazing years. She never minced words and was always ready to tell me and others what she thought. Many times, she was a listening ear for me to hear what God was saying to us and had a faith grounded in knowing the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ and the sure certainty of God’s presence and guidance in her life.
When told about the probability of Motor Neurone Disease affecting her body last year, she assured them about her lack of fear in facing that, because she knew that God was in control and where she would ultimately be in an eternal life.
She has lived out her faith by not being afraid to just be who she was. Gentle, patient, cheerful and willing to persevere with any task she was given. Uncomplicated and sincere. As a mother to Pendo and Sarah she always wanted the best for them no matter what that meant in terms of time or energy. As Bibi, she loved Jamaine and Skyla and Nathan to bits.
She never pretended to be an enthusiastic cook because she always had more important things to be involved with. She was so innovative in Tanzania when she devised a cookbook for recipes in the times of shortages of almost everything. A big frustration to her was a husband who left a carefully prepared, hot meal to attend to some other pressing need.
She was very good at feeling car sick and three days after we were married I had my first hand experience of this when she made me stop the bus we were travelling in so she could feel more comfortable. An evangelist once received a very generous offering from her on a bumpy, dusty road! Fluttering birds were also public enemy number one to her which I sometimes forgot much to her horror. But give Chris a Bible, a piano and Boggle, that would make her day!
She wanted me to thank family, and that means extended family, from many parts of the world, friends from near and far for all your expressions of support and love in so many practical ways. People of her church, you have all been amazing, and examples of true disciples of Jesus, who asked his disciples to love one another so others might know Him.
Thank you, God, for such a precious gift of a person you gave me to be my companion and inspiration.
God bless you all.