Monday, June 18, 2012

Sunday at Muriet - what a day!

Anne had been looking forward to last Sunday for a long time.

Solomon and his wife
We had been asked to go to Muriet, in the southern part of Arusha, for worship. This was going to be the first time we had been with this congregation.

The new church building (you can just see the pulpit)
This work was started by a brother, Solomon, from the Philips congregation in Arusha. Solomon is a Maasai man and he went to this village to visit his relatives and told them about the Lord's church. Because of his sharing of the gospel a small church has been started. Solomon and his family have been traveling there each Sunday for worship and last Sunday that had wanted us to come and help them.

Solomon had rented a partially finished house for the church to meet in, they had been meeting there for some weeks. Unfortunately the situation of the owner changed just last week so he had to "swap" houses. The church needed to move out of his new house and move into his old house the other side of the village.

When we arrived on Sunday we were told they had expected many more people, but they had not been able to contact them to tell them about the change of meeting place. We started with about 10 people (including the land lord) which was very good considering.

Solomon told me that they had song books but the man who had looked after them had disappears, so he had photo copied some pages from a song book and they used those. I really appreciate the attitude of this man.

We had a very good song service and by the time I got up to preach we had a full building!  I taught on the difference between the Lord's church and denominations - and how to enter His church and be saved. While Solomon had been preaching for a number of weeks and he has had good numbers present, he has not been able to convert any yet.

Well, we had a very nice service and everybody seemed happy with the new location for worship. We had just said goodbye, Anne and I had loaded Solomon's kids into the car to take them home (they live near us), and I was backing the truck out.

It was then the wheels fell off - literally! The left ball joint gave out and the car was resting on the ground. It was very fortunate that it happened then, I hate to think what it would have been like at highway speeds.

We had to leave the truck overnight - the landlord said he would guard it for us, and today (Monday) I went back with my mechanic to get it fixed.

Please pray for this new work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seminar (Gospel Meeting)

Last Friday we had a wonderful gospel Meeting (or seminar, as they call it here) at Nkoaranga.

The brethren there had asked me to teach a whole day meeting on the subject of "The Church". I therefore organised the lessons and the brethren organised the rest of the day. The end result was very successful. I was extremely pleased with the preparation that they had been made and how the day played out.

We started the day at about 11.00 am (time here works somewhat differently and the start time was a bit flexible). We had 4 sessions each starting with a prayer and then several songs. The lessons followed and Brother Mbise (the preacher there) organised for different brothers to do the translation. There followed a time when the brothers could ask questions. We finished with some more songs - the brethren at Nkoaranga LOVE singing and are very good singers! A closing prayer finished each session.

I was extremely pleased how well the lessons were received. As I have already stated the theme was "The Church". I taught on the church not being a denomination, true worship in the church, the church being the body and the last lesson was on how to enter the church.

Mbise leading the singing

While the majority of people there were members, we had some visitors. One of these was a young man Mbise and I had studied with a few weeks before. Mbise studied with him several times since then as well. At the close of services Mbise told us all that this young man, Jerimiah Urio, wanted to be baptised that evening.

As Anne was up at Nkoaranga in her car as well, we were able to take 13 other people down to the baptism spot. We had a wonderful time watching this young man being baptised into the body of Christ.

I cannot think of a more wonderful way of ending a great day. To God be the glory.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


A lot of my friends think that I am addicted to coffee, but that is not true. I really drink very little coffee, no more than one or two cups a day, often none at all. The thing is it has to be GOOD coffee. And when I get good coffee I like to tell people about it.

However, this blog is not about the beverage that is grown here in Tanzania so well. It is about the newest member of the Thomson family.

The name of this new addition is ... you guessed it - Coffee!
The little "Cowie" when we first saw her

We picked up this little bundle of fluff at the end of March. She was a little pup from an ex-pat family here in Arusha. Her mum was a village dog that the family had had since she was a pup. Her dad, well I guess he was a village dog too - no one knows.

The Children of the family had called her "Cowie" because she came out with spots, "just like a cow". Her brother was called Simbie (Simba is the Swahili word for Lion) so you can see the logic in the names.  Anyway, Anne and I did not want to go through life calling the little dog after a cow, so we spent a lot of time thinking of a name that sounded LIKE Cowie. Katy was living with us at the time and she wanted us to call her "Katy Beth" after herself and Elizabeth. I just could not bring myself to shout out those names when the pup did wrong. So after a lot of tries we came up with Coffee. She even looked a bit like a good cappuccino - white like the froth, brown like the expresso and even a little bit that looked like the chocolate sprinkled on top.

Mum and Coffee playing in our back yard
Coffee is Anne's dog - company for her when I am away, and the two have bonded very closely - they just love each other to bits. Well, that is when Coffee is not helping mum in the garden.

"Ah but mum, those Mother-in-laws Tongues looked like they NEEDED to come out!"  I always know when Coffee has been digging and then runs over the tiled floor.

All in all she is a good dog, quiet and intelegent. I think she will be a great comfort for Anne when times are hard.

Dad sometimes has to disciple her
One of those times. Toilet roll under the bed!

In her position as guard dog. Note her toy: a half coconut shell

We say goodbye to Mzee Msuya

Last Saturday we had a funeral service for Noah Msuya's father, David Msuya. Brother David was a faithful member of the Lord's church and a respected leader in his community. Unfortunate for the last few years he had suffered the effects of a major stroke that left him paralyzed and took his power of speech away as well.

The family asked if I would preach at the funeral - a great honour for me. The family also wanted the church to organize a lot of the service which was a good opportunity for the church too. A number of the brethren took an active part and everything went very well. This is good when we remember that this was the first funeral that the church here has organised.

It was a long day with Anne and myself arriving at the house (where the funeral was to be held) at 9.00am. We were able to comfort David's widow, Mama Msuya, who is a wonderful Christian lady just recovering form a nasty broken leg. We were also able to met others in the family and to finalize arrangements.

At about 10.00 we drove up to the local mortuary, where the body had been kept, and be part of the funeral cort├Ęge going back to the house. The coffin was in the back of a small ute (pick up) and several vehicles followed it slowly down the hill. At one stage we were over taken at speed on the very narrow road by a large 4X4 carrying the official photographer for the day. Apparently he was running late.

When the body arrived at the house it was carried into the main room where close family gathered around it. Some songs were sung and then the top was opened for the close family to view.

Cups of tea were drunk, more songs were sung and then after a while the coffin was taken out to a place of honour on the front verandah of the house. Chairs had been set out on the grass in the front and on the side of the verandah and slowly people were filling them up.

They had set up a P.A. system and turned the volume up high. Many more songs were sung - our brethren did a great job with their song leading. Prayers were said and finally it was announced that sermon was going to be given.

I got up with my translator for the day, Harold, a wonderful man who is the Bro. David's nephew. I was taken aback with just how many people were there. They had filled up the entire front yard with all the hired seats taken and many standing. I didn't know it at the time but there were also huge number of people outside, seated on more chairs in the garden on the other side of the road and standing listening. I was told that the family estimates that there were more than 500 people in attendance!

The family had asked me to preach a gospel sermon and that's what I did. What a wonderful opportunity to preach to so many people, the vast majority of whom were not Christians, Christ's wonderful plan of salvation.

We had more songs - many more songs, and then a final viewing of the body.

After that the coffin was taken to the grave which had been dug in the yard at the back of the house. I was asked to say a few words before the grave was filled in. The young men took it in turns to shovel dirt into the grave, working in a relay of an few shovelfuls each before hastily passing the shovel onto another young man. All the time this was happening we were singing more and more songs. The microphones were wireless so we still had a lot of sound!

Once the grave was full and ready, flowers were laid on top. We have some wonderful flowers grown in this area, so the display was breathtaking.

After all the official duties were done it was time for food. The family supplied food for ALL those people. Drinks too! The sodas alone would have been a huge expense. While all this was going on the last speeches were being made. One of these was from the representative from the funeral fund. He duly reported how much the family had got back from the funds they had been paying into for years.

Anne and I finally left at about 4.30pm. Very tired, very nearly deaf from the extreme sound. But we were also very pleased by the very dignified send off we had been a part of for a faithful brother.

The crowd gathered on the other side of the road

Bro. Msuya was a highly respected man.