Sunday, June 30, 2013

Life is but a dream

I remember I woke up in a cold sweat with the sheets wrapped around my legs - it had happened again - my nightmare. And today my worst recurring nightmare became a reality.

Let me explain.

I went to primary school (grade school) on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands. My school was called St. Georges Preparatory School, and it had a certain Dickensian feel to it. It was housed in an old mansion and was privately owned by the family who ran it. Mr Job was the head master and we boys (only boys in St. Georges) considered that his mother, Mrs Job, was St George's dragon. We were all terrified of her!

This school had a strange custom concerning shoes - we had to have 3 pairs. Out-door shoes (Black leather lace ups), in-door shoes (black leather slip ons) and white plimsols (canvas sport shoes).

One of the strictest rules in St. Georges had to do with NOT wear your out-door shoe in-doors. In fact it was so strictly policed that if you broke this role you were dealt with by none other that Mrs Job herself, a.k.a. The Dragon!

All this would have been alright and even little boys with their heads in the clouds (and everywhere else except their school work) could manage, but for one little thing.  You see y, we had lockers where the shoes you weren't wearing were kept. All you had to remember when you arrived at school was to change your lace ups for your slip on (not to hard, you just did what every else did). At play time you changed into your lace up, again following the crowd - you see, even us boys could do that.

No, that was not the problem. The problem was that every weekend you had to take all your shoes home for cleaning - EVERY WEEK END!  Of course that meant you had to remember 2 very important things. 1. to clean them and 2. to bring them back to school on Monday!

No we come back to the recurring nightmare.

I can still see it as clear as day. There I am at my locker reaching for my indoor shoes and... you guessed it. They were not there. I had done the unthinkable. I had left them at home. Now I was going to face the wrath of The Dragon!!! This would be enough to severely age any little boy, but it gets worse.  In my dream, the dream that recurred again and again. While I am am dealing with the shock of forgetting my indoor shoes I then look down, expecting to see my out door shoes on my feet, but no! They are not there!Oh no, the shock!! I am wearing MY SLIPPERS!!!

It is at this point I always woke up sweating and breathing as if I had just finished the cross country race (cross country races are another horror story that will have to wait).

This dream terrified me for all of my time at St. Georges. And today the dream became reality.

You see, we are packing up to leave Tanzania. The last 3 weeks here we are going to spend at a guest house and this weekend we are moving out of our house.  This morning when I was getting ready for church I realised... I had done the unthinkable. Did not have my shoes. The only thing I had to wear were the striped boat shoes I used as slippers.

So I had to go to church this morning IN MY SLIPPERS!

Fortunately, a lot of years had gone by and it really was not as bad as the nightmare. In fact it was kind of funny.

But then again, I didn't have to face Mrs Job.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Quick fix - tyre repairs!

One of the constant things we have to deal with here in Tanzania is bad roads and damage to tyres (sorry, tires for my U.S. readers). There simply is no maintenance at all done on the roads and they become a dumping ground for all sorts of things. On top of that people cart loads of scrap metal in hand carts that are not covered and things often fall off. I while back I put a four inch tear in the side wall of one tyre that could not be repaired.

While I could do nothing with that tyre, there have been many punctures that I have fixed and I am getting pretty good at it.

Tomorrow I am heading out to Singida for a couple of days and as I was checking the truck I noticed that one front tyre was down some. Time for some repairs!

Fortunately this puncture was in a nice position and was easy to find.  It was just a case of digging out the offending object (in this case a screw) with a pair of needle nose pliers.

Then you have to ream the the hole with a special tool so it is ready for the plug.

Putting the plug in is the next part. This is the hardest because it is obviously a tight fit. The plug has this "goo" on it to make it stick.

All that's then left to do is cut off the excess of the plug and check for leaks.

Then inflate the tyre to the required pressure and you are good to go - until next time!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Home at last

Well, we finally made it home safe and sound!

It was a wonderful trip that we had - great company with Anne coming with me! And the work in Mbeya went very well. We had a great Gospel Meeting and then the three baptisms on Sunday were encouraging.

Thank you all for you kind comments and your prayers - they have really helped!

Anne and I are rather tired, driving here in Tanzania is tough, there are so many potential dangers on the road, it takes a lot of concentration.

It sure is nice to be home!

Monday, April 15, 2013

On the Road Home

We got into the very nice Tan-Swiss Lodge in Mikumi about an hour ago. Anne was brilliant! She insisted that the first thing we do is have a "cuppa!" There is nothing more refreshing after a hard day that a nice cup of tea (that's if you're Australian, of course). We are now sitting on the verandah of our room as the sun goes down. The geese are out and having a lovely time - who needs guard dogs!

We started off from Mbeya this morning after breakfast. Just about everywhere here is "bed and breakfast" and the breakfasts are ALWAYS the same: tea, eggs and bread. The Karibuni Centre toasts the bread, but that is unusual. They always serve it with BlueBand® and Jam (Jelly). BlueBand® is a sort of margarine, but one that does not need refrigeration! Who knows WHAT they put in it. I never have Marge, or Butter so that's OK. You always get a choice of eggs, but if you want anything other than omelette, you take have to trust your luck. Karibuni Centre is much better than the normal places where I stop at when I am working. They did a great job with the eggs and their Spanish omelette was very nice.

We left around 7.30am and had a good trip. The weather was beautiful - the sun was out all the way and the scenery was breath taking. We made it down from the Southern Highlands via a very steep pass. It is a narrow two lane road - quite dangerous in places. But we made it just fine.

There are no places like MacDonalds to stop for lunch, but we found a little cafe attached to a service station. We were going in just for a cold Coke, but saw they had some food too, so we got a Chapati  each and I go a Mandazi (like a doughnut). They were heated up in a microwave and quite tasty!

Just before we got to Mikumi we were stopped by a police officer and told to pull over. I thought this was a standard licence check, but he did not come over to the truck. In stead he had stopped us due to a truck accident.  An Army Semi-trailer  had crashed and they were using a huge crane to get it back on the road. Anne and I lost count today of the number of truck accident we saw today (another reason never to drive after dark!). These drivers are crazy.

Anyway after nine hours of driving we made it into a really nice lodge - we feel we deserve it. Tomorrow we are planning on driving six hours. Another six hours on the road the next day should get us home to Arusha, Lord willing.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Worship at Mbeya

We have had a wonderful last two days.

Yesterday afternoon Samuel Mwakasungula had organised “follow up” studies. We had 5 studies in the area close to the church building and studied with 11 people. Some of them had been studied with before, but for 5 this was the first time they had been studied with. Of course, after each study we asked them all to join us the next day for Lord’s day worship.

The worship in Mbeya town was very nice indeed. The singing was terrific. The harmonies that the brethren here use was just beautiful. While most of the songs were brand new to Anne and myself we enjoyed just listening to the praises to God.

I taught on the Conversion of Saul. Three of the people we had studied with were present and my lesson had a very good reception.  All things in the worship service was orderly and scriptural. After services were over, they have a habit of leaving the building all singing a song. As each person files out they form a line and as you go down the line to join the end you shake hands with everyone – it is really nice.

After the morning service we went to the Children’s prison. The brethren here go each week to encourage these children and I was very pleased to be asked along (I have been two time before on my previous visit.) When we arrived they were all outside playing a game organised for them and soon they had finished that and orderly moved into the classroom.  When we went in, we were welcomed in the most respectful manner – it was clear that they really like this visit. We sang some songs – one of the boys lead a couple of them, and then they had me teach. I taught on “The Day the Church was Built”. I had them answer questions and they showed really good concentration. When I had finished I asked them if they had any questions. The only question they had was, “Could you pray for us, so that God could take us out of this place”. I tell you it nearly broke my heart. We prayed there and then.

The brethren meet for evening services here at 4.00 pm and we had another good service. I preached on “Speaking in Tongues” The Pentecostal church is very big here. The three visitors from the morning service were in attendance too and afterwards they let it be know that they wanted to be baptised.

We all got into the truck and headed down to the river and Samuel Mwakasungual baptised them. It was such a wonderful end to a wonderful day!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mirrors and "The Body"

I wrote about how I had a motor bike hit the truck yesterday and the driver’s side mirror was broken. While driving to the study yesterday I realised how much I use my mirrors. Without it there it seemed like a black hole on my right and I felt decidedly unsafe. As a result I gave myself the task of getting the mirror fixed today.

I had some wonderful help by one of the workers here at the Karibuni Centre, Joel. He took me to several places, all of which were not able to help. We eventually found a second hand mirror with the all the fixtures. The price they were asking was ridiculous - especially when all I wanted was the mirror, everything else was fine.  We ended up going to a glass place and having a mirror cut and glued into place. Maybe not the best practice, but hey... it works. Driving this afternoon was much nicer!

We headed out to our study again this afternoon. It is the end of the rainy season here and both days we had a lot of rain as we drove. We go over some steep sections of roads, so CAREFUL is the way!

It was another excellent study today. The crowd was much bigger - a lot of children with many sitting on the floor. I taught on The Body what what we can learn about the church through studying the body. I also looked at the Lord's Supper and how we partake of one bread because we are one body.  I was very pleased with the response of the brethren.

Tomorrow we go back again for another study. I am really looking forward to it.

The great crowd we had yesterday

Outside the building