Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Travels and training

Time to hit the road again – or get stuck on it! On Friday & Saturday, Liz Wisbey and I were leading a workshop for Sunday school teachers, training them in how to handle God’s Word carefully when teaching children and interactive ways to help children learn. So, on Thursday we set off to the Kinga language area, together with Matt Wisbey and Frank (a Tanzanian colleague) who had Literacy work to do there. We knew the roads on the most direct route wouldn’t be good as a result of the rains, but we took that way anyhow, despite my anxieties due to having got stuck on that route the previous year! And sure enough, we came to a slippery, muddy halt a couple of times. However, with Matt’s good driving, the faithful Land Rover’s low gears and the help of villagers who seemed to have been waiting for the next vehicle to get stuck, we were soon on our way again.

The Kinga language area is high in the hills – our journey there took us to heights of around 9500 feet (2880m)! This makes it a beautiful but cold landscape, and it rained most of the time that we were there.
We enjoyed good Tanzanian food in the same tiny little eating place most days – usually eating rice, beans, mboga (like spinach), beef and fruit. While waiting for the food we often sat around a little charcoal fire to keep warm. On the final evening we ate at a different place that is supposed to serve more ‘Western’ food – this meant we were able to get pasta instead of rice, but the rest of the meal was the same!
The workshop was fun, though tiring, with over twenty teachers, who particularly enjoyed the games we played with them. However, we have left with the feeling that we are spreading ourselves too thin. We don’t know when we will be able to go back to this place to follow up, as there are nine other language areas to visit. How can we be sure the training has been effective or how can we help them to continue to develop in their important responsibility of teaching children the Word of God? Liz teaching
By the way, we returned safely, without getting stuck, by a different route that was about three times as long!

Monday, 5 January 2009

New Year

I wrote some thoughts in my journal about entering the new year…
I feel both excited and apprehensive…
Excited because there’ll be lots of new opportunities at work, with the chance to grow in reliance on God as we step out in these different activities in faith. Also looking forward to going home, seeing friends and family.
Apprehensive because there were lots of struggles in 2008, so what will the year ahead be like – will I have learned from them and changed for the good – dealing better with the struggles of the future? How will friendships develop? Will I grow spiritually? Will I develop better relationships with Tanzanians, a better understanding of the culture and a closer connection to it? My prayer: Jesus, be the centre, be my source, be my vision, be my satisfaction, be my reward, be the one on whom I rely, be my discipliner, be my friend and brother, be my all in all.

Preparing for and enjoying a delicious New Year's Eve meal in my home. Round the table, L-R, there's Elizabeth (a colleague in Mbeya), Amy (a fellow Scripture Use worker, but in another project), me, Liz & Matt Wisbey, Ollie (a linguist from a project in the North of Tanzania) and Rachel (from that same project).

Out for a walk near my home, in the fresh green growth that the rainy season brings.

Another Christmas in Tanzania…

…A very different experience to last year! Rather than Christmas day with a Tanzanian family eating pilau (spiced rice) I celebrated this year’s Christmas with a group of friends, with some fantastic traditional Christmas food...
Eleven of us met up in Dodoma, the capital city of Tanzania, and stayed with friends there who have a lovely large home that could accommodate us all. We were nearly all missionaries from different Wycliffe projects across Tanzania. I went along with the Wisbeys (good friends of mine who I’ve mentioned before), who had been at language school together with most of the others there. Although I wasn’t at language school with them, I had met them all at our annual conference.
Christmas dinner was an amazing feat of good home cooked food – roast chicken and beef, home made stuffing, bread sauce and gravies, roast potatoes, veg and creamed corn pudding. Dessert was of a traditional American flavour - the most amazing pecan pie I’ve ever had (not that I’ve had very many, but it was truly scrumptious and dangerously more-ish). On top of that, someone made Christmas cake, and a few days previously I’d made mince-pies with Liz Wisbey (making our own version of mincemeat) which turned out really well.

Eating Christmas dinner (that's Liz on the right)

One of my favourite activities of my time there was walking up Lion Rock, from where you get a fantastic view out across the city and the surrounding countryside. However, this walk had to be taken fairly early in the morning to avoid the worst heat of the day – it’s a lot hotter than Mbeya. I also enjoyed going to an ice-cream shop, having crispy duck at a Chinese, reading, chatting and playing games (oh, and sleeping!).

Now back at home I am enjoying pottering around, doing householdy things (I get a strange satisfaction from doing housework) and doing up the lounge. On the way to Dodoma I went shopping with the Wisbeys in Iringa (where I went to language school), where there are several projects run to help people such as single mothers or the deaf. I was able to buy a lovely dyed cloth as a throw for the sofa, and a multi-coloured woven rug for the floor. It’s brightened up the lounge no end! The Wisbeys had bought me a lovely wall hanging for Christmas which just happens to match the colour scheme perfectly, so I can’t wait to get that up, make some cushion covers and so finish off the lounge makeover!