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.