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

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hitting the road and Motor Bikes

Well, I have not kept up like I had planned, but I am back on the job now.

Let me catch you up with the rest of the trip to Mbeya.

We left Mikumi in good time and immediately started to climb. The region we were driving through is called the Southern Highlands and the scenery is outstanding. It was hard to appreciate though as the road was quite rough - the tar dug out into rivets by the large trucks heading to Zambia. Also the truck drivers are MAD. We lost count of the number of truck wreaks we saw that day - most of them VERY bad. I think there are a lot of fatalities on that section of road.

We went though a section called the Valley of Baobabs. There are literally thousands of these majestic trees - probably hundreds of thousands. The valley is very steep with a raging river at the bottom, but the sides of the valley look very dry - thus these baobabs.

We also went up a very steep section as the road climbs the western side of the Great Rift Valley. Once again the scenery was fantastic, and the trucks driving was atrocious!

We made it into Mbeya about 5 o'clock and were able to get booked into the Karibuni Centre (Karibuni means "Welcome" in Swahili). Both of us were exhausted, but thanked the Lord for the safe journey.

Yesterday morning I had to go the the ATM and the supermarket and as I was just turning off the highway to the Karibuni Centre and piki-piki crashed into the side of the truck. Even though I had stopped, had my indicator on, this man still did not see me. I think he was going very fast. After he hit me he skidded off the other side of the road into the ditch, as I rushed up to him, I was thankful that he seemed not too badly hurt. It turned out to be just bruises and cuts - he was VERY lucky! The truck gained another battle scar on the driver's door and we lost the driver's mirror. Small things when you think about the alternative.

Yesterday - Wednesday, was the first day of our gospel meeting out of town. Brother Samuel Mwakasungula and brother Felix came to the Centre to head off to the village at about 2 pm, so I was able to have a relaxing morning.  It took nearly 2 hours to drive there, about half the way on the highway to Zambia, the rest of the way on dirt roads.

The brethren were waiting for us when we arrived and after 2 songs we went straight into the meeting. I taught on the identifying marks of the Lord's church, focusing on entrance into the church and worship. All the brethren were very attentive to the teaching and told me they were looking forward to me coming back. The plan is to go back today and Friday. This is a little congregation that has recently come out of digression - it is in Felix's home village. He told me that most of the members are related to him!

Monday, April 8, 2013


As I promised you yesterday, I plan to keep up to date with my blog on this trip.

We did not have a very good night last night. We thought we had hit the jackpot with our hotel but alas, this is Tanzania. The room had a really nifty mosquito net that went up and down on a string (a bit like a holland blind). It also had a bar fridge AND and air conditioner.

The problems started when we turned out the light. The hall light shone right through the gap under the curtain over the window above the door. Nothing we could do would stop that light. But hey! We could live with that. Next, in the middle of the night a bearing in the air-con went out - sounded like it was killing it self. Then it got REALLY hot! So not a lot of sleep.

The alarm went off at 7.00 am - just when it had got cooler and Anne and I found we could not move. So... we left at 9, rather that the 8 o'clock start we had planned.

The drive went well, but I was really glad that Anne was with me 'cause I was getting really tired, so her driving some was a big help.

We drove through Morogoro, where we stayed on previous trips and were making for Iringa.

The road took us though Mikumi National Park and there were several signs along the way telling us it was illegal to "game view" without paying park fees. (the park head quarters where you pay is in the middle of the park). So Anne and I tried our best to overt our eyes when there were animals around. Unfortunately we were not quick enough and saw some zebra, some gazelles and some monkeys - fortunately there were no park rangers around at the time!

We got through the park and stopped at the Tan-Swiss Lodge for a late lunch (about 3.00 pm) and by the time we were finished we both thought it might be a good idea to stop here rather than go onto a place we knew nothing about in Iringa.

So, we are staying here tonight. It will mean a longer day tomorrow, but we were both really tired out and are looking forward to a good night's sleep.

So, hopefully more tomorrow.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Heading off to Mbeya

I was supposed to be there by now, but last week when I was going to be leaving for Mbeya I suddenly came over with dizziness. Here in Tanzania they call that "kizunguzungu". Interestingly enough they call westerners in Swahili "Mzungus". I'll leave that for you to work out.

Anyway, Anne and I are now on the road to Mbeya. We left right after worship this morning and made it as far as Korogwe 350km (215 miles) and 6 hours of hard driving later. We are staying overnight in a motel in town and then plan to head off for another hard days drive tomorrow.

I plan to keep you up to date with this trip.


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