Theological Education

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.