Friday, 14 October 2011

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.

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