It is good to be here, where God has assigned us and we are very conscious of his provision and presence. Our long flight across the world to Africa was not arduous at all and we enjoyed several good movies en route. Although we had hoped our residence permits would be granted on arrival in Dar es Salaam, they were not quite ready, and we settled for tourist visas in the meantime. An overnight stay in Dar was followed by a light plane flight to Dodoma and a “free” taxi service into the town! We walked through familiar streets up to CAMS (Canon Andrea Mwaka School, where Chris taught in the 1980s and 90s). A NZ teacher there was looking after the CMS vehicle that has been left for us to use and we made the decision to head north to Kondoa that same day. Any driving in Tanzania is a challenge, but Peter has proved his worth negotiating its roads many a time before. We had hoped to enjoy a little more tarmac than we did, but nevertheless, after four hours of dust and bumps, we drove wearily over the bridge and into the Kondoa Diocesan compound. So, having left NZ late Monday afternoon (September 7) we arrived, unannounced, in Kondoa late Wednesday afternoon.
Someone recognised these two weary travellers, the Bible School students and staff were rallied and the welcome began with singing, dancing and speeches. Both Bishop Given and his wife Lilian were out of town and it was several days before we saw them, but we were well looked after, being invited to meals with several different families, as we tried to get our heads around what might be expected of us in days to come. We have really appreciated Rev. Moses Kasichi, a former student of ours, now a well respected leader (including being the Acting Principal of the Bible School).
We are happily based in a house across the river and up the hill, where Iri and Kate Mato had lived before. They had left for our use furniture and equipment for which we are very thankful. The house is airy, spacious and welcoming.
Six days after arrival, we became co-hosts to a group of NZers: Andrew and Paul from Rangiora, Ian and Helen, Lindy and Ann from Whangaparoa, and Heather from Waitara. Peter and Moses had driven two vehicles to Arusha to collect them and their luggage. It was a long trip, up one day and back the next. Three of the team stayed with us, but all meals were provided at the Bishop’s house which was wonderful.
A very full and exciting time followed. The team held a three day seminar for the Bible School students, teaching them how to apply the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how to encourage others to use them too. They taught in English of course, which was translated phrase by phrase into Swahili, mostly by Peter. Then it was out onto the roads into the villages. Peter and Moses were once again the drivers – an exacting task on the rocky tracks. Colourful singing and dancing welcomed us everywhere, as well as an eagerness and expectancy to learn more from God’s Word. A huge number came forward to be prayed for and we witnessed amazing things: a blind man received sight, a deaf man could hear, the lame could walk. One very old lady had aches and pains all over her body. After 10 minutes of us praying through her list, she was dancing freely with a huge smile on her face, and her lips praising God.
An unexpected invitation to a Maasai home one evening was very special. The chief allows his five wives and their children to attend church regularly, but his main concern was his impressive herds of cattle and goats. He had asked the team to come and bless the animals that lay peacefully in their enclosures, as the big red sun sank behind the hills. The women were busy preparing sweet, milky chai and goat’s liver which we were served. They begged us to stay the night, with the promise of a cow-hide each to sleep on, but we were expected at another village hours previously so we had to decline. The chief was invited to the seminar at church the next day, and he came, listened intently, asked a lot of questions and was prayed for. Many people there were healed and released from evil spirits and the power of witch-craft. God is moving in the land. What a privilege to be part of it!
The NZ team has left now, the Bible School students are returning after a two week break, and classes begin on Monday. Please pray for Peter under the weight of the Principal’s hat! Availability of teachers is never certain, it seems. But God is with us, and he put us here. Of that we are sure!