Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Life is rarely boring in Tanzania!

Keith’s Report
The pace for life in Africa is a lot slower than we are used to in Australia and we have seen in the U.S. However, the month of February has been perhaps the busiest we have had so far - looking back it seems there was so much we did.
We started off on the first of the month heading north on the bus to Nairobi, Kenya. We went there to pick up Katie Burns who is going to be staying with us for 3 months while she is volunteering at a local school. It was a flying visit and we were soon on the bus again heading home.
While we were in Australia, Anne and I had medical check up and unfortunately Anne’s came back with negative results that required follow up. She had to see a specialist in Nairobi, and while we had tried to see him while up to get Katie, we unable and had to return the following week.  Having tired of bus travel I decided to make enquiries about driving across the boarder to Kenya. So, with the paperwork all in order we headed out in the truck to Kenya in the second week of February. Anne got her tests done and in between appointments we were able to do a bit of sight seeing, which we had not done in Nairobi before.
We went to Karen Blixon’s house, the author of “Out of Africa” and got to see how life was like in colonial East Africa. We then went onto the Giraffe Centre where they care for young and sick giraffes and we had the opportunity of hand feeding these graceful animals. Katie even had one take food from between her lips!
We got all we needed to done, the tests were taken and we were able to head back to Tanzania, Arusha and home. It was quite a testing time, getting through customs and filling out the paperwork. What we had to do was actually temporarily import the truck to Kenya. Driving in Nairobi was something else again. Darwin would have been happy there, it really is survival of the fittest and if you were hesitant at all, you were left behind. We made it through and all though we had to stay at different guest houses each night we did OK.  We have just got the results back and it looks like Anne will need a procedure, but we are still trying to work out how we are going to deal with that.
The work continues
Things are going well with the church here. We continue to have many studies each week, in Arusha itself and helping out the congregations in the surrounding areas.  I am particularly pleased with how our Leadership Studies are going. The local preachers and leaders get together once a week, on a Tuesday, to study Leadership topics.  I am very pleased how the local preachers are applying themselves and helping to teach these important lessons. We have some very talented men here.
I have preached at two of the outlying congregations this month. At Mererani and Nkoaranga.  The trip to  Mererani is fun. It is about a hour and a half down some pretty rough roads and you end up in the frontier looking town. The church here is doing well though. They have rented a nice building and they are having regular studies with people in the community. The worship service was very good and everyone was very happy that we had come to be with them. After services we had a baptism. Which was very exciting!  
Finding water in the dry environment of Mererani seems to be difficult. We knew of a river where we had baptised others about a ½ hours drive out of town. So we loaded up with people and headed that way. When we got to the village were were told there was no water for baptisms. They use the river for irrigation and apparently they turn the river off until 10 p.m. on Sundays!!! We went down to the river anyway and we were able to find a pool that had plenty of water. The preacher from Mererani, Fred, baptised the young woman, Elizabeth, and did a very good job.  Here in Tanzania it is not unusual to find people who have never put their head under water, so baptism can be rather stressful. Fred talked quietly to Elizabeth, telling her exactly what he was going to do. He showed her how to cover her nose and really took his time to make sure that she was fully relaxed.  This baptism was the perfect end to a great trip.
Last Sunday we went up Mount Meru to the congregation at Nkoaranga. These are wonderful people who really love the Lord. Their singing is something to hear. In fact the preacher there, Mbise, and I are planning recording the congregation there singing a number of song. I will let you know when they are available.
The service went very well with all the brethren clearly demonstrating how happy they were to be there and how pleased they were that we had come. They have a really nice habit of singing their way out of the building. They file out and forming a greeting line, so as the rest of the congregation comes out we all shake each others hands, all the time still singing. It was very moving.
My New Blog
I have started writing a new on-line blog in which I am planning on detailing our life and work here in Tanzania. Please take time to have a look at it.  There are a lot of photos, stories and other things that I think you will find very interesting. There is also the opportunity to “comment” so you can  tell me what you think.  Its called “Tanzania Jottings” and you can find it at:

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