Thursday, 27 October 2011

Saturday 1 October 2011

Yesterday was another amazing experience. Hundreds gathered in the open air outside of the cathedral. Entertained by various groups of singers and dancers from wide and far around the diocese. The colours of the outfits, the vibrancy of the music and the dance, WOW, we just had to join in which really amused the people. Linda and I also taught them dance movements based on our aerobic days which they thought were fantastic! Can you imagine teaching Africans to dance! They are just the best when it comes to rhythm and movement. The preaching is of a standard I have never heard anywhere in the U.K. The passion, never drawing a breath, no notes and it will last for a minimum of 1 hour. The people also join in with what is being said, there is much laughter and shouting out Praise the Lord and hallelujahs. The children sit all day in the dust, without a murmur, sometimes getting up to stretch their legs. We are being royally fed and I am sure I shall return with many extra pounds on my hips - I think they think we are too thin!! Must go now. Wish you could be here to experience it. With love, Yolande

Friday, 14 October 2011

'There's more'

Sharing a meal in comfort at the Cathedral. We are given spoons to eat our food with but often in the villages it is the fingers of the right hand. Hands are always washed by the hosts before and after eating.

Processing to the Cathedral on the final Sunday of the 20th Anniversary celebrations. Me and over 200 male pastors - no women priests in Mpwapwa Diocese as yet!  I think I was quite a novelty to some of the pastors who had not met me before.

Photographs continue and continue!

  I am being taught how to grind grain between two stones much to their amusement!
'BEAT      THAT'                                                                                                                                                                             grinding                       .'BEAT
Terracotta soil and Bao bab trees. The trees produce a pod the size of a large avocado. This contains white seeds that are a good source of concentrated vitamin C. The people either suck the white pith off or use them to make drinks and a sort of porridge. This is how they get their Vit C.

Stunning sun-sets and then instant darkness. It is a wild but beautiful country. Miles of nothing then a few mud homes will come into view or a small village, sometimes a small town. Along the way people will appear from nowhere either on foot or bicycle making you wonder where have they come from, where are they going because there seems to be nothing for miles.

More photographs

Delivering clothes to the 300+ orphans of Chetimo and Nyhinilia. This is the area where 'Seeds4Tanzania' would like to start its first project to build a pre-school for the orphans and young children of the village. A plot has been designated half way between the two area. Work will start by collecting the stones for the foundation. The foundation will then be dug and after the rains (Nov onwards) if they come, the mud bricks will be made. There is now a bank account set up and the secretary of the building project gave me an account of how they have spent the funds which were donated 18 months ago and the remaining balance. They have a project committee and have really taken on board all that I have suggested would be required for this project to proceed. It will take much patience on my part as things move slowly in Africa due to the weather conditions, communication and the fact that all the work done will be on a voluntary basis by the people of the villages who also have to maintain themselves with their planting and harvesting. IT WILL HAPPEN.

SOME OF THE ORPHANS  - they live with families in the villages who are themselves very poor - some live with a relative. It is the churches that try to maintain them by four times a year asking the people to give what they can.  This might be grain, chickens that can be sold, material, in fact anything that they might have that will be of use. Volunteers try to give the children some activities and education but they are not qualified teachers. My first suggestion has been that they start training at least 8 people as pre-school teachers. This will take funding because they will have to be sent to a training centre. This will be the first funding for 'Seeds'  to cover.

Photographs of our visit

Our friend and driver Rajabu had his 37th birthday with us. Our cook
Monica made a birthday cake and we all sang. Rajabu is a Muslim and a wonderful example how different faiths can live, work and have fun together. He lives in Dar es Salaam with his wife and three children. He has had little schooling but now knows just about everything, speaks excellent English, French and some German.
On top of a mountain the Diocese of Rochester are assisting with funding the building of Queen Esther's boarding school for girls. It is Bishop Jacobs dream to have this school to enable girls from the age of 14 to have education in a safe environment. Normally if they are able to have secondary education they have to travel far which mean they sleep in the nearest village and often risk being abused, end up pregnant and then they are not allowed to continue their education. There are now three classrooms built, dormitories are in the process and perhaps by next year the girls will be able to use the facilities but there is still much to do.

6th - 11 October 2011 - Time is flying by

Since my last blog we have suffered from many power cuts including lack of water! Buckets have been the answer - glamour is not for Tanzania! 6 October I visited the family that I have been supporting for the past year as the husband, father of 5, a Vicar in the Diocese is in the USA studying for his masters. It was wonderful to see Agnitha and her children looking so well and just having time to chat over a bottle of 7UP!!Linda was busy sorting out the accounts system for the Diocese,Stephen and Sylvie were running a Bible study. 7th Oct. we travelled to the farthest point in the Diocese to Chipogoro to meet at St Paul's Church, the Pastor, Elders and congregation. Entertained as always with music and of course wishing to feed us. I updated the details I had taken in 2010 regarding the situation there. Everything is much the same due to the poverty of the area. It was decided to buy a 'pikipiki' (motor bike) for the church so that the Pastor who is also the Dean can get round his very wide area deanery. At present he is having to walk or use a bicycle and he is not so young. If you saw the roads you would be amazed that he even considers walking. Next challenge to go to the capital Dodoma and buy the motor bike!  Also agreed to provide the funds (provided by Sylvie and Stephens church, St Stephens,Tonbridge) for the church to buy a plough and ox to help increase the sowing for the future harvest. It is all done by hand at present. However it has been insisted that they open a bank account and put in place all the necessary procedures which have been outlined to ensure funds are used in the correct manner. The bank will be a few hours travel away for them. As always the people were so generous to us with their offering of food and little gifts for us to take away. Their smiles are worth any gift we could receive.

This is how we cook in Tanzania in luxury it is indoors but the smoke inhalation is awful and very unhealthy, much better when cooking is done outside - but this is progress but Linda didn't have a go!.

8th Oct. off to St Michael's Kongwe and again had a great visit. Details of 2010 were updated and I was so impressed with how they have moved forward on so many of the issues. It is so difficult to express the warmth of the reception that we are given where ever we go. It is not because the people believe they will be given anything, it is just that they are so pleased to see us and that we have taken the time and trouble to be with them.No matter how late we arrive after the expected time they are there and waiting. Every where there are children with so little but the smiles are there, the little hand tucked into ours, it is very special. After leaving St Michael's we travelled to St Phillips the Theological College. The evening was spent having a meal and rest. 9th October we were invited to attend the opening service for the academic year. I was asked to preach and administer at the Holy Communion. A great privilege and I enjoyed every minute being with the students, their wives and children who obviously find worship a joy. I made all little error with my Swahili when I wanted to say that 'I was so happy to be at St Phillips College for the third time' but instead I said that ''I was so happy to be at the toilet for the third time! I wondered why they were all laughing.Time was then spent visiting the homes of students we are always in contact with, having tea with the Principal's wife and daughter. Stephen and Mike lead another Bible study. Unfortunately Sylvie was unwell with the African lurgy. 10th Oct. Very special day as I had been invited to Baptise the grand-daughter of Sylvester Chamwella,the Principal of the Girls Boarding School and senior member of Bishop Jacob's staff. Linda and Mike were invited to be God-parents. What a day that was. First lunch with the parents of the baby. Then off to the church, St Paul's Mpwapwa, for me to go through the service with the Vicar and then it was all stations go. It was a wonderful experience to perform this Baptism of Miriam Linda. There was so much warmth and love in the church and during the proceedings. I also administered at the Holy Communion. Of course at the end we all had to give a talk about ourselves and I was expected to also give a talk that incorporated the meaning of the Baptism. In England I would have had time to prepare in Tanzania you just have to get up and do it and of course they reminded me that now I was a Canon, which seems to mean you are able to do anything without preparation! It was a great privilege and honour. There is a wonderful custom that when you leave the church all the congregation shake hands with the Vicar and his team and then shake hands with each other, so leaving takes time but it is so lovely. I mentioned this to the Vicar who then said you must tell the people this, so there I was outside the church again speaking with the people. 11th Oct. was a visit to St Luke's, the maternity clinic. They now have a doctor who can also perform operations. People from the locality also go their with their aliments in the hope that they can be helped. We took four large suit cases full of baby clothes and blankets that have been knitted or donated by members of our churches. These are to encourage the women to use the clinic as they will take home their new born in a little outfit with a blanket. Women also go there for contraception help. They are given three monthly injections. The pill is available but if they take them the men search them out and throw them away. Women as always taking responsibility. Of course there is a cost for the injections so the women have to earn money buy selling veg and fruit they grown without their men knowing.  HIV and Aids advice is also given. There were three women in the clinic awaiting to have their babies. It is never quite clear when the births are due as the women do not keep records of when they had their last period. Three babies were successfully born on the day we arrived but we did not see them as the mothers had already left for their villages. The clinic facility belongs to the diocese and is good but does not have the standards that we are used to. After St. Luke's we went to the Diocesan Bible school to talk with the tutors about their courses and the lack of materials to run them. You really have to see to believe the difficult conditions that people try to work in but they do not say 'This is impossible' they just get on with it the best they can and standards of  teaching and learning are amazing. It would put many to shame in the U.K. 12th Oct. we journey to the capital Dodoma to buy the 'piki-piki' also a laptop. I would not consider doing the purchase of a motor-bike in England, knowing nothing about them but it had to be done and with the help of our fantastic driver and Amos from Mpwapwa diocese, we managed to buy at a good price the bike. Then off to find a 'shop' that sold laptops - again just a little 'shop' 6ft x 6ft, containing everything you could wish for in this line. A laptop was loaded and up and running in minutes,12 months guarantee, nice laptop bag, £350, and off we then went to deliver it to a student at St John's University. While I was there I had to have a meeting with the Dean of Theology to try and get a place for Amos and we are still waiting to hear the outcome. The term has already started but we did not know until recently that funds have been fund for his fees. It was really good addressing myself as Reverend Canon Yolande! We arrived back late in the evening and then had to visit the retired Bishop of Mpwapwa, Bishop Simon. Again tea and juices were drunk and much discussion about what he is involved in. We then had to rush to the diocesan guest house to meet with Bishop Jacob and his team to discuss and report our visit as next day we were to leave. We had a very late supper and talks concluded at 12.30pm. Off to our hotel to pack, bed about 1.45pm - pretty tired. Up next day to leave at 8am after breakfast and goodbyes. Had to visit Miriam Linda, our baptism baby, to say goodbye. 11 hours later we arrived at Whitesands Hotel, over looking the Indian Ocean for a two day break before our return to the U.K. I am sitting here rather sun burnt after our first day. It is very windy so you would not think it is that hot - what a mistake I have made! Off to dinner in a minute and hopefully another good nights sleep. It has been wonderful having a hot shower and actually feeling clean for the first time since leaving U.K. I shall be blogging lots of photographs in due course so please keep logging on. Looking forward to our return home but will be very sad to leave this beautiful, wild country with its wonderful people. It is always a life changing experience. Poor Trevor when I get home I shall be continually telling him to turn off the water, electricity, eat everything up, don't waste anything etc etc but he is used to me by now! Kila barraka and thanks to all who have been reading my blog, keep in touch as the blog will continue on my return. Potographs on next blog.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

8th Day into our trip

So much has happened I don't know where to start from my last blog on 1 October. The finally to the Celebrations was on Sunday 2nd Oct. What a day a 7 hour service in 100 degrees, hot, hot, hot. I was privileged to assist with the Holy communion and I lost count of the hundreds I offered the bread to and children I blessed. I think it was an unusual experience for them to have a white women priest. Songs were sung, words were preached, distinguished guests from the government and local councils spoke and then the greatest shock was when I was called to the alter by the Bishop Jacob to be extended the honour of becoming a Canon of All Saints Cathedral, Mpwapwa. This was in front of over 1000 people, children and guests. WOW! and then I had to speak to them. I am just so pleased that I was not informed beforehand that this was going to happen. I shall never forget this day.

Girls at Queen Esther's received blankets give by St Luke's, Sevenoaks.
The next day up bright and early to go to Queen Esther's Boarding School for girls which is a diocesan school. I had to take them through a 'Parenting & Relationship' course which was quite a challenge but some home we came to understand each other and followed all the hard work with songs and dance let by other members of the team. Sylvia is particularly good at this. The following day back to the school for Linda and I to talk to them about the importance of keeping their bodies fit and to have regular exercise. We then,lead by Linda, took them through an aerobics and circuit routine in 100 degrees on uneven bumpy ground. It had to be seen to be believed. We had a great time, soaked through may I add and they are now going to have this part of their curriculum including the Parenting course. Yesterday another fantastic experience travelling to three churches, Berege, Chetimo and Nyhnilia. Everywhere we were met with singing and dancing from the Mothers Union and the children. the churches were full and we were introduced to all the elders, committees, teachers etc, entertained with more singing and dancing. The children are just so amazing in their performances and of course everyone wants to feed us! We went to view land that has been given to Chitemo and Nyhnilia by the government to do with as they please which is a great gift to them. The day was concluded with a meeting with all in authority in Chitemo and Nyhnilia to discuss the plans Seeds$Tanzania have to build a school half way between the two for the pre-school children and the 300 plus orphans to attend for activities and education. We sat in Chitemo church at 7.30pm last night with no lighting except two torches and listened to their report of what they have planned since I last spoke with them, what they have spent their money on which was donated by All Saints Church in  Rochester Diocese and then I had the opportunity to share with them my thoughts of how we shall move forward with this project. It is all very exciting and much work will need to be done by the villagers and of course 'Seeds' to raise funds to complete this project. The most important point is the relationship and friendships that we are forming with the people. It is so heart warming to find they never forget what one has said previously which may be many months ago and any little gifts that were given are their proudly displayed in the church. These are very special times for us. I apologies if my grammar is all over the place but I have to rush so before the power goes off!!
One of my many babies - the future of this country.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

1 October 2011

What an amazing day filled with music, dance, preaching like you have never heard before. The children were performing all afternoon.  Their performances were of such a high standard and would put many children in the UK to shame. All the songs are from text from the Bible or relating to the peoples/children's lives now and how they live their faith. Children from Compassion International were there and sung about their lives, how they have nothing and feel worthless. Very moving. The children are a delight and keep swamping us to be with them. It is a very moving experience to  be with  people of no material wealth and yet  so thankful for the little they have. We have shed a few tears today during words sung by the children.  We actually had rain today for a short while, the first I have eve seen during my visits to Tanzania. It is now 9.50pm and has been a long day. Tomorrow is the climax of the celebrations when an outdoor service of Holy Communion will be held out doors for the hundreds of people attending. Linda will be reading Psalm 116 v.12-19 in Swahili and I shall be assisting during the administering of the bread and wine. I am sure there will also be many songs sung, prayers said and a good doze of preaching. Every blessing to all, with love, Yolande