Tanzania

Snakes in a loo

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Here in Kondoa, we have had many warm windy days and nights. Our outside hole-in-the-ground loo, which is surrounded by lean-to corrugated iron sheets, has all but blown apart. A friend espied a baby snake disappearing into the hole the other day, so it is possible its entire family lives down there! Just as well we have indoor, western-type loos too. We can even flush them sometimes! The hot season will be upon us soon, which hopefully will include lots of rain. Some villages had no harvest at all from the last ‘wet season.’

At Kondoa Bible College, we rejoice in the enthusiasm of all our students. Fourteen students began their 3-year Certificate of Theology course in August, and right now are on their mid-term break. Most of them would have preferred to keep going, battling away with their essays, which many of the staff like giving them for their mid-term assessment. There are several pastors in the group; others are catechists who hope to be ordained when they have their qualification. Two more students may be joining them after the break. The two-year course students have all eagerly taken on leadership roles in the college, which is great! They too are working well, and benefiting from the computer lessons that Peter is giving them. Their goal is to be able to write their essays on the computer.

We’re at presently applying for work permits so that we can then apply for our residence permits to be renewed. We had hoped that by now there would have been an exemption granted for us as missionaries with the Anglican church but that will be too late for us now if granted. This week has been occupied with a long journey by bus to Dar es Salaam for Peter followed by two days trying to complete our work permit applications and then a long journey back to Kondoa, interrupted by a night in Dodoma, having arrived too late to go on to Kondoa. We pray that we’ll have a positive response to our application so that we can then renew the residence permit before it expires in mid-November.

Recently Peter led both services at the church in Kondoa and fortunately did not have to preach as well. Our pastor was away at a family funeral so he had to ask for the part-time pastor and myself to cover for him. We had a time of thanksgiving as part of the service for David Pearce, who had worked in the 1990’s in Kondoa and still had many who warmly remembered him.

Over a week ago now we received news that Peter’s translated version of a book on grief has arrived in Dodoma. They are waiting for us to collect and then distribute. Thank you to all who have contributed to help this come about. It will be interesting to see what it actually looks like after all this time!

Since our last newsletter we have had several groups of visitors which involved quite a lot of travelling to different parts of the Diocese. It is quieter here at present on that front as the Bishop is away on Sabbatical leave until mid-December.  Please pray for him that he can have some refreshment while away and safety in all his travelling.

Safety on the roads is a constant challenge here. An example of that is for one of our pastors who was travelling on a bus from Arusha on Friday. He ended up in hospital after the brakes of the bus failed on a steep incline and crashed. Many were very badly injured. He escaped with cuts and bruises.

We really do appreciate your interest and sharing in our ministry here in Kondoa. We would love to hear from you too when you have opportunity. Why not leave a comment below?

Image: The current three year Bible course students.

The backyard farm

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It is not quite June yet but the beginning of the month will be really busy with special visitors, students’ final exams and graduation, seminars and village visits.  Life rolls on, sometimes too fast to keep up with!  I’m sure many of you find it the same.

A big vote of thanks to those who prayed for rain, even though the usual rainy season (that wasn’t) was officially over. We enjoyed a full month, (mid-April – mid-May) of the beautiful stuff, and consequently, crops are thriving around most of Kondoa area. God is amazing!

Bible College, Ordinations & Visits

At Kondoa Bible College (note the updated status!), all is quiet between meals. It is Study Week. The eleven survivors of the three-year Theology certificate course are reading through notes and nervously anticipating questions. Their provincial exam papers in Old Testament, New Testament, Theology, Church History and Pastoralia have come through to Peter via the internet, complete with many mistakes which have had to be rectified. The exams run until June 2. Please pray for the students in this stressful time, and for Bishop Given as he decides on placements for them.

The six 2-year course students are now halfway through! They are a bright, enthusiastic group, even though only one has been to Secondary School. They have completed my course on Teaching Methods. Their final assignment was a 20 min teaching slot and they did really well; most of them included some form of drama which pleased me. My cousin Linley, from Christchurch, NZ, asked if I could make use of flannelgraph pictures to which I responded enthusiastically. She has been sending packages regularly through the post, and I have enjoyed working out ways to use these, especially in teaching children. The students were in awe of it!

July 16 is the date set for the ordination service, at which Peter is due to become a fully-fledged Anglican priest! We had expected that the first woman to be ordained in this Diocese would be included, but it seems that that will have to wait until next year.

As Registrar, I have to oversee all the papers set for the 2 year course and collate all marks for all students, so life is a bit chaotic at present. I have also got involved more with Mothers’ Union things. Last week we went visiting two women who had recently been bereaved, and just as we arrived I was asked to give the “word” of comfort (i.e. a short sermon!). God is proving so good though, in giving me the words to say, and it seemed to hit the spot for many of the women there!

Early this month we welcomed 11 visitors from East Tennessee: lovely people, most of whom had never before set foot in Africa. During July, a large group of secondary school students and teachers from Kent, UK, are due to arrive. And this weekend, Andrew (our vicar from Rangiora), John (a member of the parish and a technical whizz), and Steve, a vicar from the West Coast, are due to fly out to Tanzania. They will have a full-on ten days leading healing and deliverance seminars in different villages in this Diocese, as well as working out the best ways to help with building projects.

We are still waiting for Peter’s book on Grief to be finished at the publishing press. Someone is still “working” on the cover! It’s an exercise in patience.

The Farmyard

We live in a veritable farmyard. Apart from the ever-multiplying chickens and ducks, there are cows and goats, wild dogs and … snakes, two of which hoped to set up shop in our lounge. I’m thankful that Peter was around to dispose of them both times! In our garden mice, frogs, chameleons and snails (one I measured at 21cm) abound, although we haven’t seen many tortoises this year. Our cat, Kelele, spends a lot of time outside, waiting for a feast to appear, for our roof is home to pigeons, bats and lizards.

Unfortunately, a mongoose is also active in our area. It broke into the chicken coop which had housed a small brown hen. We had been gifted with her from a village visit the previous day. We came home from the College to find it hacked to death and gutted. We were quite upset by that.

Peter had an unusual experience the other day. There are nests of swifts in our carport. Peter, just walking through it, realised he had, literally, “a bird in the hand”. It had just flown into his relaxed hand, and almost as suddenly, with a swoosh, flew out again!

Welcome Rainfalls

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We seem to have survived a 5-day flurry of visitors over last weekend!  Mothers Union leaders from around Tanzania, a Sunday School teachers’ seminar led by a Lutheran woman pastor, the UVUKE choir from Dodoma (of which Peter was a part way way back in the 80s and 90s!), an all-day meeting for Area Deans of this Diocese, and a Bible School Board meeting which involved us both. These events overlapped with each other but the poor cooks were the same and were exhausted. We had six of the visitors to look after here at home and no water!  We have had plumbing problems for weeks. We were very thankful for a mighty deluge of rain on the Sunday night and we were able to fill all our buckets in no time at all. The river, usually a trickle in the river bed, became a fearful flood, and evidently got very close to swamping the Bible School! We could hear the roaring waters from here, some way up the hill on the other side.

After February’s haphazard rainfalls, which brought hope but no growth of crops or pasture, hundreds of cattle died, and many Masai committed suicide. Families struggle to survive still, although the rains have been great throughout March. We look on that as an answer to the prayers of God’s people, here in Tanzania, but also in New Zealand, UK and USA from where many Christians have been praying.  The price of maize has rocketed up, four times the norm and well out of range for the average family.

On the home front, Peter’s peanut crop looks good, and the forest of spinach around the back has been shared with hungry students. Most of our ‘off-duty’ daylight hours are spent weed-pulling! There is still food in the Kondoa market, and the Bible School students keep fairly healthy, thanks to individuals and churches from overseas who contribute to the work here.

All the students bar one arrived back for the new term and they are working hard. However, there are many concerns for their families back home. One student has had to go home twice to sort out problems of neighbours’ cattle eating new crops in his fields, and just today, one of the staff had to face the anger of his neighbours who claim that his donkeys have eaten their crops! The student who didn’t arrive at the start of term had a critically ill wife to care for. Many prayed for her and she gained strength, but then his daughter became ill, so he still hasn’t appeared.

Peter has finally been able to get some computers set up, and is teaching the students in groups, after lectures are over for the day.  Most had never before touched a keyboard, but Peter hopes they will soon be able to write up their own documents and essays …. slowly, slowly.

Where’s the rain?

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It’s great to have this opportunity to share with you what’s been happening… or not!… in this faraway part of God’s Kingdom. December started very busily with exams, and graduation for John, Emanueli, Jackson and Matthias, who have completed their two-year course. Emanueli and Jackson have already got placements as catechists in their parishes. John is a very bright student who should be going on to further studies, but having a girlfriend here in Kondoa complicates things!

There was a wedding the next weekend, and Peter was asked to preach at it. His first go at a wedding sermon, and it was a hit! He asked two clergy couples from the congregation to come forward. I tied their feet together as for a 3-legged race, and they set off down the aisle. They had never done such a thing before and there was great hilarity amongst those watching them stumble along. Peter’s point of course, was that it is quite difficult learning to walk together as a married couple, when previously they had walked independently. People were chuckling about it some weeks later!!

January 2, and we were off to Iringa for a week’s break. We were amazed at the excellent road from Dodoma, south to Iringa, through many villages that we could reach only by a dusty track back in the 90’s, up and over hills and across the impressive Mtera Dam. In Iringa, we stayed at the Neema Guest House which is attached to a restaurant and workshops where physically disabled people are learning many different crafts, then able to sell their wares and thus get a regular wage for the first time in their lives. A young and creative CMS UK couple are running it at present and doing a great job. We had breakfasts in the restaurant, which is staffed by profoundly deaf people, so we had to learn some sign language! Iringa is a busy and colourful town and we enjoyed many jaunts into the byways, on foot of course. We were also able to meet up with a friend whom we’d known as a little boy in Dodoma. He and his brother now sell to tourists beautiful paintings and handcrafts, and his sister is runner-up to Miss Tanzania! He took us to his house that he had recently built and we met his two little children.

The next week we returned to familiar territory, staying in the guest house at Msalato Bible College. There are still many families there that we knew from the 90’s and we were particularly pleased to spend some time with Mama Chitalika, her daughter Zilipa and 21 year old grandson Ivan.

We had to leave Msalato a couple of days early to prepare for an influx of 170 pastors and catechists arriving in Kondoa for a 3-day seminar. Two American clergy from North Carolina led it and they taught very well, based on Leadership and the letter to the Galatians. January is not generally a good time for a seminar, as everyone is out in their fields, digging and planting. However, because of the lack of rain there is no work to do, so why not attend a seminar in town where there will be good food! Peter had his hands full, trailing around various institutions borrowing mattresses, loading them in the pickup and downloading them at the Bible School, then reversing the whole process at the end. In between he was driving the visitors here and there, including a long village trip. More exacting was translating all the sessions into Swahili (except for one or two when Bishop Given took over). But Peter was in his element and did well!

When I wrote this, I was home alone for three days. Peter took a bus to Dodoma, then joined up with several others who were also travelling to a Provincial meeting of principals of all Anglican Bible Schools/Theological Colleges in Tanzania. There are weighty matters to discuss which will affect the standards expected and syllabi.  The meeting is being held in Berega, which is on the way to Morogoro , reasonably central for the participants.

 

However, the topic of every conversation, be ye Christian or Muslim, is the weather.

Some rain – beautifully refreshing from thunderous skies – has fallen for an hour or so at a time, but is followed by scorching days for a week or two. This does not produce a harvest, not even pasture for the cattle. Consequently, hundreds of cattle have died, and families in the villages are already starving.

Our Bible School students are due back on February 4. Before that, there are staff meetings and many decisions to make. Both staff and students will be frustrated that they have not been able to even prepare the fields, let alone plant their maize. They may have had to already feed their families on last year’s maize which they had set aside to plant. Bishop Given told us that many families have resorted to cooking their reserve of sunflower seeds. If good rains fall this week, they will be sorely tempted to get out in the fields, rather than come to study.

Please pray that amongst all the “what ifs”,  God will uphold His work here in Kondoa and give us wisdom and grace in our leadership here.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Dodoma Changes

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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.

Thieving Chickens and a Bible School update

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Dry, hot and windy… A fascinating, partial eclipse of the sun by the moon… Ants, termites and cockroaches parading through the house…

…. and a plague of chickens that race joyfully across the road every day to devour our vain attempts to grow stuff!  (Thankfully, they haven’t found Peter’s tomatoes around the back yet!)

At the Bible School, (which seems to demand 7 days a week for Peter) the eight new 2-year course students are working hard, and I’m enjoying my contact with them in the classroom. Please pray for one student who struggles with reading and writing, having had only four years of primary schooling. Two promising students on another course have not returned due to relationship problems, and that has been disappointing.

We sometimes hear of family violence and suicides and of evil spirits playing havoc with Muslims and Christians alike. The other Saturday morning in our fellowship group, a young girl in the home we had gathered in was writhing under the power of evil spirits. The group prayed en masse for her – loudly, insistently, while hatred in her eyes plagued by the evil one challenged us all. But Jesus won the battle, and the small mud-brick house became a house of peace. Praise God!

The 3-year students are facing a research project, a terrifying prospect for some! Pray for the staff members overseeing that, that they might gently encourage and direct their assigned students. The topics chosen by the students include: Evangelism amongst the Muslims of Kondoa, The place of children in our Diocese, and Christianity in the Burunge tribe.

We had a day’s break from Kondoa three weeks ago. There was a big outreach in the area of Kingale, where Christians are very few, and on the Sunday we piled up the vehicle with people wanting to be part of the service out there. A vibrant team from Dar es Salaam was leading the outreach: a preacher, singers and dancers to attract outsiders, and deafening loud-speakers! The service was held under trees near where the church building has been started. Most people sat on piles of bricks for the 2-3 hour service, although four plastic chairs were found for the clergy up front. The only other piece of furniture was a table brought in upside down on the back of a bike. There was a big thrust for pledges for the new church building Many promises were made, still waiting to fulfilled… We did get some rice and beans before the afternoon outreach but we were all very tired and thirsty when we returned to Kondoa, well after dark.  The road is dark and treacherous when there is no moon, but Peter got us all home safely. Thank you Lord.

We’re looking forward to a week’s break this month! We take a 6 hour bus ride to Arusha on Friday October 14, and the following day a flight to Entebbe, Uganda! From 17 -21 October we’ll be part of a CMS Mission Partners’ Conference, staying on the shores of Lake Victoria. It all sounds wonderful to me – after 13 months in Kondoa.  Please pray for refreshment and rejuvenation as well as being a useful part of the Conference!

Returning to Tanzania

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By David Close.

In June this year a celebration was held in Tanzania to commemorate the inauguration of the Diocese of Western Tanganyika 50 years ago. David Close taught at a school in the region from 1965 – 1971 and had the privilege of attending this Jubilee celebration. Below is his account of this recent visit to Tanzania.

Saturday, 9 July 2016. I was the only former CMS person attending the Jubilee, but I was not the only New Zealander. Robert Kereopa (Exec Officer, Anglican Board of Missions) and his wife Rachel were here too, and the trio of us were always introduced together.  Robert and Rachel have been here before and fit into the culture very well. I gave official greetings from Bishop Victoria, explaining that she had a prior commitment in England.

My colleague in the teaching of English is a man called Lamech Bandiye, whom I taught in 1967-70.  He is now retired, but taught English for many years, mainly in secondary schools.  He has been teaching at the Bible College since February, but was unaware of the course that I had produced during my time here in 2012.   Enlightening him about the course was not difficult as I had brought it on a memory stick.  Printing copies was no problem because a helpful young man programmed my laptop to use the photocopier, which still works perfectly.  I am really pleased that I put the work into producing the course because the preparation does not have to be repeated and the materials are far more suited to our task – teaching an intensive course to men – than any of the primary or secondary school textbooks I have seen.  And the course is quite fun to teach, because I find I wrote a lot of humour, and a lot of relevant local content, into the grammatical exercises.  More important, the students are enjoying it.  Thursday was a public holiday.  When I asked on Wednesday if they were willing to come to class on Saba Saba (seventh day of the seventh month), they chorused, “We are willing.”

Lamech has been with me most of the week.  I have to use Swahili a lot for explanations and instructions, and it is very helpful to have him at hand when, literally, words fail me.  He is becoming familiar with the teaching style of the course, and I hope that he will be comfortable using it.  The real plus is that he sees the reading of lots of simple English books as essential to developing fluency.

Momentous changes are taking place in this country.  The economy has been growing at about 7% a year, the most obvious evidence being the huge increase in trucks and other vehicles on the road, the building boom, and the proliferation of small motorbikes.    However, the improvements in roads, schools and health services have been very slow coming.   People suspected that one of the reasons was extensive corruption among government officials and in the business community, but despite much anti-corruption talk, there was little effective action.

That has now changed.  A new president, elected last October, is cracking down on tax evasion. Two weeks ago four companies were charged with evading 29 billion shillings (2 million NZD) in VAT (GST); last week two small businessmen were fined 1.5m shillings (about $1000 NZD) for failing to issue VAT receipts.  A Cabinet Minister was dismissed for not declaring a conflict of interest, and, when the performance of 140 government officers in the regions was carried out, only 39 were reappointed.  The tough action is having an effect on behaviour; revenue from taxation has consistently run behind target but yesterday it was announced that tax revenue was running 7% ahead of budget. The president is very popular because of the tough measures he is taking against tax evasion and corruption.  However, he is also taking a tough line against political parties, including his own, criticising their negativity and restricting their activities.  For this he, in turn, is attracting criticism in the newspapers, especially the Swahili newspapers, which are very forthright.  He has shown no sign of restricting the press, which is remarkably free.

July 19.  A lot has happened since I wrote the above. Last Friday I went to Matiazo, high in the hills close to the Burundi border, and the site of a small local hospital, and an ‘orphanage.’  ‘Orphanage’ gives a wrong impression because it is more like a neo-natal unit.  It takes babies whose mothers have died in childbirth and who would be unlikely to survive without special care. Often the babies are premature, or severely ill from whatever has caused the mother’s death, or malnourished because of inadequate care between the time of birth and their arrival at Matiazo.  Effective treatments have been developed that are not dependent on expensive equipment such as incubators.  At the time of my visit there were 64 babies being cared for – and an abundance of baby washing drying in the sun.  Most of the babies stay for 18 months, at which time their fathers or other relatives are expected to resume care of them.  A few (some who were found abandoned at birth or were born to mothers with severe mental illness) stay on while adoptive parents are sought.

The amazing thing about Matiazo is the staffing.  A German woman is the only fully qualified doctor on site and an African woman is matron of the orphanage. There are trained nurses, of course, but most of the care of the babies is carried out by girls from local villages, each of whom has special oversight of about four babies.  The girls have only primary school education, but are trained on the job, spending part of the day in the classroom and the rest of the time caring for the children – and doing the washing!  They pay a nominal sum for board and have only one day a week free; their reward is that after two years they gain a certificate, which, while not a nursing qualification, is often sufficient for them to secure work at a local dispensary or health clinic, or to gain admission to a nursing course.

These cost-effective measures notwithstanding, Matiazo struggles financially, most of the support coming from the Neukirchen Mission in Germany. Matiazo is part of the Anglican Diocese of Western Tanganyika.  The church is not in a position to provide a lot of financial support but each of the 130 parishes is being asked to organise a special collection on a coming Sunday.  On my visit I was able to hand over $1.8m Tanzanian shillings (about $1200 NZD).  It will probably be used to pay for infant formula, which is a major expense.  It was very gratefully received.  Many thanks to those who contributed (church friends, LP friends, family).

Immediately after going to Matiazo, I went to Nguruka.  The place was well known to me because the train always stopped there in the middle of the night, but I had never seen it till last weekend.  In appearance it is not different from many similar African towns or villages. What makes it special is its history.  The visit was special too, because Bishop Sadock had decided to ordain three priests, not in the cathedral at Kasulu but at little, remote, out-of-the-way Nguruka.  We were welcomed in the open air in a very public space outside the church and the pastor’s house.  People, especially children, swarmed around us as we arrived, after which we sat under a large mango tree while three choirs sang specially composed songs of welcome, followed by more general Christian songs. (I should explain that, here, choirs always dance as they sing, sometimes gently, but on this occasion with great exuberance.)  There were perhaps 300-400 church people sitting or standing, and on the fringes a lot of townspeople, including Muslims, attracted by the music.  I found the occasion incredibly moving, because I knew that, on the very spot, only a few years ago, on a Sunday morning, a group of Muslims had attacked the church, pelting the building with rocks.  The Christians did not retaliate, showed no ill will to their Muslim neighbours and made a conscious effort to reach out in friendship.  Love worked.  Harmony was restored.  A good many Muslims have come to faith. The church is far stronger than it was.

On Sunday morning the ordination service was held in the ‘new church’.  It had no roof and a dirt floor, but, as I said to people in Kasulu the next day, the atmosphere made the venue more beautiful than the temple of Solomon.  I gave greetings from you people in New Zealand, and promised to tell you about ‘their way of sharing love all round’, an inspiration to us all.

On our way back, a petrol tanker which broke down in a steep, narrow part of the road held us up for three hours. It was a small price to pay for a memorable weekend.

May God bless you all.

David.

The Ordination

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It was a cool morning in June as we walked down the hill, across the bridge, and up to the Kondoa Anglican Cathedral. Peter was one of three deacons and eight priests to be ordained by the Bishop of Kondoa, Given Gaula. We were blessed to have five other New Zealanders with us on that special day, including Rev. Andrew Allan-Johns, our Vicar from Rangiora, who had the privilege of both leading the Ordinands’ Retreat beforehand and preaching the ordination sermon. Special friends from Dodoma, Canon Richard and Christina Kanungha, also arrived for the weekend.

The procession of clergy, from the Diocesan Offices up to the Cathedral, was shepherded by the Bishop, replete with mitre and accompanied by joyful singing. In fact, much of the 5 ½ hour service was filled with singing and dancing! It was all recorded on Skype, thanks to the expertise of John Mock, one of the NZ team, and relayed back to Rangiora where some hardy souls were sticking it out late into the night! (Tanzania is 9 hours behind NZ time.)

Peter looked the part in cassock, surplice, clerical collar and black preaching scarf. Now the big day is over, he can wear the white alb donated by Lincoln Parish in Christchurch, the beautiful stoles that have been sewn and embroidered by some ladies from our Rangiora Parish and the different coloured clergy shirts provided by a lady north of Auckland.

We are so thankful for the amazing support of many, many people.  Please pray for us as we step into additional roles and expectations!  BWANA ASIFIWE!

Peter’s Ordination

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How did it come to this? It wasn’t just a thought I dreamed up one night. Ordination has been suggested from time to time, even while we were in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika years ago. I often replied, “I think that I can minister to people better without having to be ordained.” Ever since I arrived here in Kondoa people have called me mchungaji which literally means pastor of a church. The three year Bible School course has four pastors amongst the students I teach, and most of the staff are pastors also. Chris questioned me at one point: “Isn’t it rather strange you’re the Bible School Principal while caring pastorally for ordained people?”

For a third time I was asked to consider the possibility of putting my name forward for ordination. A lot of thought and prayer followed and, with a message through Chris saying “Don’t be stubborn like a mule,” I had to consider that maybe I was being just that – stubborn. Our Bishop, Given Gaula, came round to ask for a second time. “What has the Lord been saying to you about ordination?” he asked. He was overjoyed when I agreed.

Bible school update

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All our students had a two-week break in their home villages over Easter. The first week they were on a practical assignment to assist the village pastor in evangelism and Easter services. They will be bringing back a written report from the pastor. The week after Easter is for them to have a break with their families (most are married), although they will probably have spent many hours helping with weeding and harvesting in their shamba (plot of land).

Chris is enjoying her teaching of English and of Teaching Methods. Her classes had a lot of fun before Easter, trying out different ways of acting out a Bible story, and an assignment awaits them next week to prepare a short play script on specific Bible narratives. Her English class (the struggling Group C) are now bouncing along with some confidence, which is heartening.

In Peter’s Worship lectures, they think through how worship has changed and evolved through the centuries, so it is involving Church History as well. They have some lively discussions. His responsibilities as Principal seem to expand as the weeks go by. He is constantly on demand, and making decisions that do not always please everyone. Keep praying for wisdom for him.

Please pray too for weekly evangelistic thrusts into local schools and institutions, such as Kondoa Girls’ Secondary School, the Teachers’ College, the nursing school, and a mixed Secondary School. Teams of students and staff from the Bible School are permitted to teach in these predominantly Muslim institutions beginning with the small Christian group of students, encouraging them in their witness. It is a huge opportunity but already there are obstacles presenting themselves … please pray!

Hearing God’s Word

Imagine what it feels like to hear the Word of God spoken in your own language for the first time!  It was a pleasure to meet Johan Grubner, the head of an organisation called MegaVoice which is based in South Africa. Johan passed through Kondoa in February and we were able to spend a few hours with him. He had brought us two boxes full of solar-powered audio players loaded with the Bible in Swahili, Masai and Cigogo. They had been provided by NZ sponsors to distribute amongst the villages of Kondoa.

There are many people around here, old and young, that cannot read. Others have poor eyesight, or none at all. Thousands of others have never even heard the Gospel. This is their opportunity to listen to God’s Word for themselves. Village pastors and catechists who have these audio players find them an amazing tool for proclaiming the Word of God. They say many lives have been touched because of them. Pray for Spirit-led distribution.