Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mbita, Kenya

My trip to Western Kenya has been going extremely well. We have meet so far with seven different congregations and have had many studies.
The church building at Uradi

At Uradi. We had a very good meeting here. Before we started they insisted that we have some "breakfast" (tea with bead). We then gathered together and studied the word of God. The subject was " the foundation of the church.

After our study

The next day we went to two congregations near each other. First we went to Ulwan, where we met with the brethren (and they gave us breakfast). We then went to Kabura church where we had an out door meeting.

At the Uranga church building

On some days we have meet with several congregations. On other days we have spent the whole day in one place studying. Yesterday we meet with the brethren near Kisii and after we had studied all day two women made it known that they needed to be baptized. The whole congregations walked down the hill from the church building and they were baptized there.
The church at Kisii. The man in the front (in the light green shirt) is Mark Masese who had been studying with Paul Nichols over the internet. He was baptised in August and went home to convert the brethren he was worship with. This was the first time we we able to be with them. We studied for 1 and a half days had had a wonderful time with the.

One of the two sisters who were baptised

This is Mark Masese's wife being baptised.

This is a very young church and everyone was filled with great joy as they watched these two sisters added to the church.

Today we traveled to Lake Victoria and I am writing this sitting on the lake shore. We had a very good study this afternoon and tomorrow we are planning on two with different congregations.
With my co-workers, George and Vincent on Lake Victoria

The congregation on Msinga Island

These are the brethren that meet at Mbita, on the shores of Lake Victoria. They meet in a rented building that is used as a school through the week

Inside the building at Mbita

Kenya - From the Camunya Hotel

I am writing this from the Camunya hotel in Ugunja, Kenya. I traveled here over the last couple of days to assist brother George Odhiambo in his work here in Western Kenya. We plan to meet with and study with numerous people over the next 2 weeks or so.

Kenya and Tanzania are both part of the East African Union (a grouping of 5 nations that is modeled on the European Union). However the unity has not yet come, so the border crossing as I moved north into Kenya was still bothersome and slow.They are moving to improve things, but like other places in Africa, this process can cause absolute confusion. They have knocked down the border post on the Tanzanian side and without any signage it was very difficult to find the temporary building. I also had to get a temporary import permit for the truck, which was not difficult, but slow.

I made it through ok though and made it into the capital city of Nairobi just before peak traffic. The pre-jam was bad enough and I know how bad it can get. I stayed overnight in the Mennonite Guest House. One of many such guest houses that are over here to accommodate missionaries. I met a pentecostal group from Pensilvania who were over for a conference. There was also a large Canadian group staying too.

I left early in the morning and made it our of the city without any problems. I didn't have to go through the city center again, so the traffic wasn't too bad. The rainy season is in Kenya so I had rain most of the way. While it was a long trip and there were a lot of bad road, road works and "deviations" to overcome. With all that I still made it to Ugunja before dark.

The hotel I normally stay in is fully booked so Bro. George booked me into this hotel. Not quite as nice, but comfortable enough for me. I am sitting in the dinning "tent" writing this awaiting the arrival of George so we can plan this visit more.

Teaching, teachers and babies

I have just returned from Morogoro where I delivered 2 babies! But more about that latter.

Just outside of the town of Morogoro there is a teacher's college. I was taken there in August and was introduced to a group of Christians who are studying there. I was really taken by these young people, they gather together and they are trying to do the right thing by God. They have not had a lot of teaching and they long for more.

Since that first meeting (I was only able to study with them one time) I have been trying to get back to see them. That opportunity offered itself just recently so Allen Mkita and I drove down there.
Allen and I with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background

It is a long, full days drive to get there and we got into town in the evening. We were planning on seeing the students the next day, but knew we had to contact the administration before hand. I had phone them up before I left Arusha, but they were not very clear with their instruction.

We went anyway and after we had arrived, signed in two books at road blocks, we were finally able to study with the young christians there. It was so encouraging teaching and looking out at those eager and interested faces. When we had finished the study we had questions.It was clear they were not used to asking the teacher many questions, but after a while they got warmed up, they had some great questions. We arranged to meet again the next day at 4.00 p.m.
After our study

When Allen and I got there we could see none of the Christians. There were plenty of other students about - there were exams starting on Monday, but the people we were looking for were nowhere to be seen. After about 1/2 an hour they started to arrive and we began our study.

That is when I delivered my first baby. While I say delivered, I guess I need to explain myself. Just after we had started a young woman came to the classroom saying someone needed to go the the hospital and there was no way to get there but by my car. It turned out that a woman was having a baby! Of course I said I would take her and left Allen to continue with the lesson.

So... I delivered mother (and her baby) to the hospital. I was told the next day she had a little girl and the young people were joking that they were going to call her Keith!
The little hospital (clinic) where I delivered mother (and baby) to.
The next day was Sunday and Allen and I stayed there had worshipped with the brethren. It was clear that they had not been taught about true worship, but they were keen to learn, so Allen and I took the whole service, explaining carefully each step.

Worship was early - at 8.00 a.m., so we were finished by 10.00, so Allen and I hit the road to make it back to Arusha that night.
After worship services

That was how I came to deliver my second baby - we were driving down the road and a policeman waved me down and asked me to take a woman to hospital to deliver her baby. Of course I said yes, I was happy too. I ended up wondering if the white Toyota looked like an ambulance. We got her to the next town and I think it was going to be OK, though it was a close thing.

All in all we had a great trip. Please pray for those young Christians at the teacher's college

A very new and VERY nice food stop over on the way back

Friday, November 23, 2012

Back at Dakawa Teacher's College

The reason Allen and I traveled all the way to Morogoro was to visit the Christians studying at a Teacher's college about an hour to the north of the town.  I had first visited them in August and since then I had wanted to come and encourage them once again.
To see the students we first have to get permission from the staff at the college. While they are nice people, it has been a trial getting through to them and  working this trip out. But we managed it and this morning Allen and I have a good visit with our brethren.
After signing in at the first gate, signing in at the second gate we were then directed to the Admin. block where Mr. Milton was waiting for us. He was in a meeting so he asked us to wait - in the mean time some of the students came up and greeted us.  We managed to get through everything the faculty asked us to do and we were able to visit with our dear brethren.
We had a very good study that was followed but questions and then general discussion. I taught on how the church is the original - all others that have come after it are copies. While copies might look good, they will not be as good as the original. They made us feel very welcome and asked us to come again.  We agreed and plan to go back tomorrow and then again meet with them on Sunday.
Please pray for these young Christians.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Morogoro trip

Allen and I started a work trip today to Morogoro, a town in the center of the country about 12 hours drive from Arusha. It's not that far, but the two lane road goes through EVERY village, so you just get up to some sped and you have to slow down. The traffic police have just got some new speed cameras that they LOVE to use!

We are going to meet with some Christians who attend a teachers college here - to study with them, encourage them and to see how we can help.

I had to ask permission to see these students from the Dean of Students and we have arranged to go there at 11.00 tomorrow morning. I am really looking forward to it. Last time I was there we had a terrific meeting.

We left early this morning and Mt. Kilimanjaro was just beautiful! We drove right under it.

Allen and I had a good trip, we say lots of interesting things including hippos in the Wami river.

We arrived at Mama Pierina's very tried and happy to be here.

I'll let you know how we go tomorrow.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mungi and Alice's Wedding

Last Saturday was a big day for us here in Arusha. It marked the wedding of Reginald Mungi and Alice Shao, two faithful members of the Philips church of Christ. We were all very excited about this as it was the first wedding of church members here.

Reginald and Alice had asked the church to organize the service and for me to officiate (a real honour to me). They wanted their respective families to see more of the church.

There was going to be far more people than could fit into our little building at Philips, so they hired the Arusha Community church building (which is available for such occasion). The wedding was planned to start at 3.00 pm. I was so pleased to see that most of the brethren were there for the start time (getting to services on time is a problem for many). Unfortunately, as the start time drew closer the members were the ONLY ones present. The groom was no where to be seen, neither was the bride OR the other guests!
Reginald (on left) with his grooms men.

At 3.30 the groom, his best man and the little grooms man arrived, but still no other guests. 15 minutes later we heard the sounds of the "brass band" and they arrived behind the brides car - we knew then that things were going to go ahead. The other guests started to arrive and at 4.00 the beautiful bride stepped out of the car and slowly made her way up the stairs towards the building serenaded by the "brass band".

Brother Mbise from the Nkoaranga congregation was the M.C. for the service and did a wonderful job - welcoming the groom and bride in, greeting the parents and leading some wonderful songs. When he started the first song the "brass band" started playing, but Mbise stopped and respectfully asked them not to play. In that building we were almost deafened by the trumpet and trombone and they only got a few notes out! So the singing was a cappella and beautiful.

Preacher Cam.

I was asked to "preach"the wedding, so I gave a short sermon and then we went on the the wedding ceremony. It was a simple affair, the bride looked beautiful and demure, the groom simply glowed with happiness.

After the exchanging of vows and rings the couple, the families and the preacher was "crowned" the something that looked like a necklace. No one could tell me the significance of this.

The couple lead a procession out of the building, again to the accompaniment of the "brass band" and made their way to the car and headed off for photos to be taken. Just after they drove off the sky opened and it pour with rain - perfect timing.

We were told the reception was going to be at 6.30, so noting the lack of promptness for the wedding service we were in no rush to get their "early". We got their on time and found the party was well and truly on it's way. Apparently you are not late to the party - also there were about 300 more people at the reception that did not show at the wedding!

It was a merry time with a lot of speeches (in Swahili) and a lot of laughter. Although we were far away from the proceedings, everything was videotaped and broadcast on screens, so we didn't miss out on anything.

The "wedding cake" was made of about 8 separate cakes and important groups were asked to come up for a cake for that group. Anne and I were asked to come up to receive the cake for the church (we shared in it on Sunday, after services).

Then came the giving of gifts. Everyone with a gift was invited to come up front to give to the couple. So we went in a processions up with music playing loud. After we had given the gifts then the precision made its way to the buffet - gift giving, then you got fed!

We stayed till about 9.30 while the party was still on its way, but as we left the rain started bucketing down. I only hope the marques everyone was sitting under held up to it all.

We have been lucky enough to have Duane Cutter and Scott Everett staying with us and they were able to enjoy this happy occasion with us.

Friday, November 2, 2012

We all pray!

I wanted to share with you a very small incident that happened today that made me feel good about being here in Tanzania.

Anne and I had been out all morning and we ended up for a late lunch at a little cafe. Both of us ordered something light - soup of the day for Anne and a baguette for me. They came quickly and they looked good.

When the waiter had left us we bowed our heads to offer our thanks to the Lord for the food. When we had finished the waiter was standing beside us with a knife he had forgotten. He apologized but I told him not to worry, "we all pray".

And that was it!

Nothing really except the acceptance that here in Tanzania all (or certainly the vast majority) pray and it is not an unusual thing to do.

There are times when it is frustrating living here, other times when you just have to smile.

I bless the rains down in Africa!

The rain has started

It seems that in the weeks leading up to the rains, all Africa holds its breath. It gets hot. The winds start. The clouds start to build.

The talk of rain is on everyones lips. It doesn't matter if you are in the city or your talking with a farmer, all are looking for the rains. Because everyone knows if the rains don't come it will be a difficult year.

We were up on the mountain when they came, and boy did they come!

Brother Wilson Maturo had invited us to attend a send off (engagement party) for his wife's sister and by the time we headed up the mountain the Prado was full. Maturo was up with me in the seat of honour. His wife was in the back seat with Allen and Mbise. Right in the back were Brother Willy and his wife and the 2 grandmothers we there as well. I said the Prado was full.

We were a happy lot as we headed up.

Yesterday Arusha officially became a city and the president arrived to confirm that honour. As a result of his visit we are getting a lot of road works done all around - this is what we found as we went up the mountain. The dirt road had be roughly graded and I soon had to shift into 4X4.

No worries, while the 10 tonne truck ahead of us was struggling the mighty Prada laboured on without breaking out a sweat, so up we went.

That's when the rains started - the African rains!

It bucketed down!

The loose road started to become mud and I had to shift into low range. Still all was well until we came upon a truck stopped in the middle of the road. I knew I could not get around it, I would have ended up in the gutter, so there was nothing to do but wait. As it turned out there were two large trucks further up the road completely bogged!

So we waited about 1 1/2 hours until the wonderful rain stopped. When it started to ease we saw that the truck ahead of us carried other people heading for the send off - they piled out of the truck obviously intending to walk the rest of the way.

I wasn't able to move the Prado forward - the mud now was too slick. And couldn't back down, I would soon be off the road. Fortunately there was a side track to the right and just behind us. With a little work I was able to get onto that and turn around.

It was getting late and I could see getting down the mountain would be a challenge, but still people wanted to go to the send off. Allen stayed with me and the others went on by foot to the celebrations.

We made it down OK but anther route and rejoiced over the rains.

Now the next morning everything is fresh - it has been raining all night!

And the flying ants are out - this is Africa.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Photos from Singida

We did a lot of this - waiting in line for fuel! For some reason there was no diesel in Singida for sale (there was only a little petrol). Each fuel station was either completely closed or had lines of traffic waiting to see if they would sell any fuel. Oh, by the way, the tanker 2 ahead of me was not delivering fuel, its tank was empty too!

Sister Dorcas from the Singida congregation, with her daughters. We had a very good study with these people on Friday.

Marabou and the moon
These Marabou storks are huge birds and about 20 of them hand out at the Catholic Guest House where I was staying.  Have a look at this link to find out more about them:
We traveled out to Nkalakala village to study with some of Samuel's family. As there was too many people to fit into the house we had our study sitting under a tree. They really appreciated the tracks we left with them

Time for a Photo!

People here LOVE to have their photo taken and when they are able to see the results strength away often hilarity follows. Here is the family gathered in front of their house. (Samuel/s mother is in the purple in the middle and Samuel and his brother are standing right behind her.)

The country side around Nkalakala village. Note the road!

Sunday after services at Malade. For those interested you can see Yohana 4:24 (John 4:24) and "roho na kweli", "spirit and truth". I think my Swahili is improving (a very little)
Samuel Nandi and myself.

On the way home from Singida

Monday, October 29, 2012

The road home to Arusha

So, the trip to Singida was quite a success. I was very happy to be able to spend time with the brethren there and Samuel and I had lots of studies. We studied with some of the members in Singida town, we studied with the members in Malade village and we studied with several non-members. 

On of these was an older man who claimed to have started the Pentecostal church in Malade. After two days of studies he said he, and his congregation, wanted to worship with us. Well on Sunday, it seemed that he did not have as much sway with his members as  he thought. He worshipped with us and told me he really liked it. 

We also went out to visit some if Samuel's family about 60 kms from Malade. We had a very good study with them and they have invited us back any time. I think we could have a little congregation there soon. 

Well better get going, I stopped at a little restaurant on the way back to Arusha for a coke. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Serengeti Safari Part 2

On of the aspects of traveling in Africa is that you are never alone. Not matter where you stop, even in the middle of a very dry flat plain, someone will come up to you and this time we were not to be disappointed. 

While we were stopped in the middle of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to fix the radiator, a little Maasia boy came up and kept asking me for some water. To be honest, I was not sure that I had enough water for us and the truck, so I put him off while I worked. But once the radiator was full and not leaking I gave him a small bottle of water. As soon as he got this he started asking for food (he did not drink the water, so he couldn't have been too thirsty). I am sure that if we had given him food he would have had more demands. 

  So on we went. I was a bit worried, we had a long way to go still, but it should have been ok. However, when I checked again under the bonnet, we then had a BAD leak. I was able to stem the flow with a pair of pliers, and I guess we still had enough "stop Leak" in the radiator to do its job and we once again the radiator was holding water.

I had to make a tough decision though, and I decided that it was best to turn back. Things were going wrong with the truck and I was not comfortable carrying on. We had a LONG way to go still and we then had to return on the same road. So we turned around, feeling a bit defeated.

Everything behaved itself on the way back to the gate. We stopped at a few of the view points and enjoyed the wonderful views. We made it back to Arusha without any further mishaps, which was great.
Ngorongoro Crater

We did stop to get some fresh bananas from Charles' children and to get him some charcoal.

While we did not achieve what we set out to do, it still was a good trip and we are planning on doing it another time soon and this time getting there.