Cliff & Irene

Dodoma Changes

Posted on

In Dodoma things continue to develop and I am seeing ever more change in this fast growing city. St John’s University is currently receiving the new influx of students and it seems that numbers are up significantly. This is something to give thanks for. Please pray that their experiences will be good, and that they will encounter more of the living Christ.

Life in Dodoma has certainly changed since its old days as a sleepy backwater. I am awakened most mornings at 5.00am by what I think are the loudspeakers from at least five different Mosques. Depending on the wind direction they can be very loud! Last year I got to know a Muslim missionary a little bit. A nice guy working on social welfare projects. The Muslims and the Christians seem to be in competition about who can make the most noise. All use very large amplifiers. Noise pollution is an unknown concept here. When the students aren’t here the local independent church has the occasional all night prayer service, which can also get quite noisy as people pray out loud together. At least the Christian music is joyful!

The government is pushing to bring all the government ministries here, and the local army barracks is being extended. Certainly massive buildings are going up, and the traffic is getting heavier. Apparently there was some talk of them trying to take over some of the farmland owned by Msalato Bible College. However the college has received a grant from donors in America to help develop the farm, and my colleague Tim Lloyd Jones has been asked by the Bishop to manage it. He is working on installing a new bore hole and water pump.

What we would love to see here are some new Christian volunteers to help at the university – and even more so at the CAMS school. Both offer great opportunities to witness Christian values to Muslims and to help Christians build their understanding of their faith. In return they teach us how to be expressive and outrageously joyful in their worship! Unfortunately, at the moment expatriate numbers are dwindling steadily. We fare-welled another ex-pat from St John’s last week, and without further replacements the Lloyd Jones family could be the only non-African family on campus in a year or so.

CAMS is struggling on thanks to American Peace Corps volunteers, and Ned Kemp continues to do an excellent job with the resources he has to retain the school as one that reflects the truth of the Christian message by the way it lives and breathes. The need remains for energetic English speaking Christian teachers to teach the international syllabus, and for mature experienced teachers to help train the locals and to bring their English up to a standard where they can cope with the children (particularly in the senior classes where some of the pupils are considerably more fluent in English than their English teacher). The demand for a good quality English speaking school is growing as the civil service finally moves to Dodoma, and the opportunity for evangelism is huge. So come on Church, what are you waiting for!

There are many blessings to being here: Tim and Adrienne Lloyd-Jones are such gifted people – they interact well and have helped to move things forward. I am excited to report that at last we are building a boundary fence around the entire campus! It will be a temporary one until we have enough money to build a proper one, but it will keep stock off the young trees we plan to plant, and the existing trees that have been cut down to the roots will have a chance to regrow. At the same time I am hopeful that the first part of the permanent wall that is the dream of the VC will be erected soon. The tender board which puts out tenders for work met recently and it seems they agreed to proceed – this has only taken 15 months since I first put in the request!

Tim has also been appointed Environmental Advisor for the University Campus. His work permit has been approved and his business is slowing getting under way. So far he has yet to earn an income from these activities, which he will have to do in order to stay here. The university provides accommodation so that is some payback for his help on campus.

Yet another blessing is that after 18 months of trying I finally have an approved work permit to collect – at least that is what I am told! This means we can get the required residence permits for multiple entries. I thank God for these.

Another minor feat on the same day was that my status at St John’s (“Honorary Professor”) which was passed by the University authorities a few years back was being questioned as there was no paperwork. However the legal advisor checked and found the records so I now have proof that I am using the title legitimately!

What have I learned from this?  When I reach the point of saying to God that I have done all I can and it’s not working so I give up and hand it over to him to sort out, he seems to enjoy just showing how easy it is for him!   Why do I never seem to realise that he will do all things in his time? My role is to do what I can with what he has given me and leave the hard bits to him.

Irene returned to New Zealand at the end of October. God willing I will join her at the beginning of December. We do not have plans for next year but I pray that we will both have a clarity and common vision about what our Lord would have us do, together with the passion, energy and desire to go where he leads us.

 

Here’s a few prayer points:

That God will raise up people to join the staff at CAMS and St John’s University so that both may be places that are pleasing to God and actively fulfilling the Great Commandment, and that the Church international will be enlivened to help serve here. That the new students will have good experiences at SJUT, and that they will encounter more of the living Christ. That God will direct us as to get the work undertaken well for the temporary fence, and that the tender board will do their work well. That God will provide sufficient income to enable the Lloyd-Jones’s to continue the work they are doing.  Also for the education of their children (Naomi is at CAMS, and the boys are being home schooled by Adrienne). That God will protect the health for various staff.

Home again, gone again

Posted on

When we left St John’s University in Tanzania in August we were grateful for our 60 kg luggage allowance! The end of year exams had been delayed by three days  because it was impossible to see the new moon (which defines the end of Ramadan), and Cliff’s forty two students sat his exam only hours before our departure. We sat in airport lounges and transit hotels marking scripts and wondering if God intended for us to return.

We both felt a lot had been achieved but there was still much to be done. A trust had been set up to seek and manage funding to improve living conditions on the campus for students, including a boundary fence, but that was just the first step – now we have to find some donors! Policies had been approved to encourage Christian conduct among the staff  but these had yet to be implemented. And Staff had been encouraged to seek research funding but they would require considerable support. Both students and staff had encouraged us to return and, with the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor (following the sad death of Professor Mwaluko last year), we were excited about the possibilities.

We traveled home via the UK and had the opportunity to chat to family and friends, often while steering a canal barge! We were also able to renew contacts with the UK Friends of St John’s and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Both these organisations provide important support to St John’s and these brief meetings resulted in significant developments. We give thanks to God for the opportune timing of these meetings.

We returned to NZ on October 2 still uncertain about if or when we might return. Our support to travel and remain in Tanzania comes from our ability to rent our home, and we wanted confirmation that our vision and contribution were in accordance with the leading of the new Vice Chancellor.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised but it still amazes me how fast things fall into place when God is in control. Within ten days of our arrival we received a very warm and positive response from the Vice Chancellor, our existing tenants told us they were keen to remain in our home, and the travel agent has confirmed available flights which will enable us to travel and return to spend Christmas with our family.  So after a very brief stay in NZ  we are preparing to make our way back for the new semester.

We would value your prayers for our travel and the opportunities that await us, for the Vice Chancellor as he takes up the leadership of the University and for the financial management and support of St John’s as it seeks to develop Christian leadership in Tanzania.

Teaching in Tanzania

Posted on

Our first few weeks have flown by and we are beginning to settle into a routine now. Cliff has all his lecture commitments on Monday but spends quite a bit of other days consulting with groups of students over their assignments or their research projects. He is also moving the student welfare project forward on two fronts. Firstly the legal side which involves setting up a trust at St John’s to administer any funds that may be donated towards the project. Secondly he is involving the Geography students in surveying the perimeter of the university grounds in order to establish the path of the new fence to improve the security on campus. We have already had donations of approximately $1300 towards the fence and we have the agreement in principle of EdAid in New Zealand to accept tax deductible donations and transfer funds once building commences. If you are interested in supporting this project or want more detail please contact us.

I am now teaching for three hours on Tuesday and four hours on Thursday and Friday. Some of this is small group tutoring in English and some is to bigger groups in the teaching method classes and the English Department. Both areas are rewarding as you introduce and demonstrate more student focused and interactive class activities to the students and enable them to relate these to their own classroom teaching. The second year class have just returned from teaching practice where their class numbers averaged 50, often without the availability of even the most basic resources. We are trying to encourage them to use what is available such as old newspapers, bottle tops and food containers to create teaching aids that will enliven their lessons. It must be very easy for them to become despondent at what is lacking rather than challenged by what is available.