One might expect that the official, long holiday break from Bible College might have offered a break from hectic activity, something that could be termed, ‘holiday’. Dream on!
When I last wrote a newsletter, at the end of May, the 3-year Theology students were about to sit their final papers, set by the Anglican Province of Tanzania. As Peter was sent off driving and translating for all the different groups of visitors to the Diocese, I was left to administer the papers, amongst the tension of both students and teachers. The 2-year course students were sitting their exams at the same time, so I had some supervising and marking of papers to do as well. Peter was back in time for the Graduation service and celebration meal, but as the 3-yr papers had to be taken to Kongwa for marking, we didn’t know the results until a few weeks later. I must say that we were amazed that 10 out of our 11 students passed their Certificate of Theology. There was much rejoicing! Bishop Given was thrilled too, and has plans for the top students to further their studies; the others will be placed in parishes of the Diocese.
A group of eleven 17 year olds and three teachers from Bishop Justus School in Rochester arrived to help with building projects in the village of Chemba. Their school has sent different teams for three years now. The local children adore them. We have a World Heritage site only 45 mins drive from Kondoa, at a place called Kolo. Peter and I accompanied the students to have a look. Massive rock formations and rock paintings there have been estimated as at least 20000 years old, through carbon dating.
It is seen as a very spiritual place by the locals, especially at one site where there is a large ‘room’ under a massive rock. It can only be reached by slithering through on your stomach! Not one of us cared to try that! The guide said he had brought many people there to pray to the gods for things small and big, such as to be elected into Parliament!
In the middle of the school’s visit, Peter and I were required to go on retreat for two days before his ordination to the priesthood, on July 16. This was at Chemba this year. There were just three couples involved: John and Christina, Amos and Joyce, and Peter and Chris! John, Amos and Peter had all been ordained as deacons last year, and found worthy by the bishop to be ordained as priests this year. Sunday’s service was a huge affair. The school students who were present, reckoned that it was 6 hours long! There must have been at least 8 choirs from surrounding villages, Kondoa and Chemba itself, and each had prepared a special item for the day. The large church was packed out.
After one day back in Kondoa, Peter had to travel again, this time to Korogwe, in the Tanga district. It is a long drive, and he decided to bus to Dodoma then join in with others destined for the same meeting of principals of Bible Colleges.
In the meantime I was expected to be part of a Mothers’ Union leaders’ meeting gathering in Kondoa from all over the Diocese. As I am now a Mama Mchungaji, basically meaning a pastor’s wife, I am expected to turn up to all these meetings. If they are as long as that one was (3 – 11:30pm), I might start becoming creative with my excuses. One thing that did excite me was a discussion about children’s work. It was noted that all Muslim children are expected to go straight from school to classes about the doctrines of Islam, but we Christians don’t have even a mid-week children’s class. Do we not think it’s important that children get a good grounding in the Scriptures, they asked? Most Sundays there is Sunday School, but there is little organisation to it. Please pray that the passion expressed in that meeting, will be turned to action, so that we can disciple children to be strong in their faith and their knowledge of God’s Word.
The Bible College students, both the new 3-year course and the 2-year course, are expected to arrive by August 6. The first week will be an orientation week, then straight into lectures. Please pray especially for the new students, as they get used to study and a new environment, and for their families coping at home without them.
Please pray for Bishop Given as he will be going on Sabbatical leave from half way through August until December. Pray also for continuity of support for the Bible College financially.
Peter spoke at our Saturday morning fellowship today on Hebrews chapter 11 verses 1,2 which are well worth reflecting on:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”