News for End December 2004
Highlights + lowlights of Tanzania travels ..
Best moments - opportunities to share God's word with Tanzanian folks in life and word; using their own language arising from African culture.
Worst moments - feeling more and more rotten while being prayed for as I was expected to speak. Then when all eyes were on me to perform, having to run outside and vomit!
It is not time that guides the movement of buses in Kenya / Tanzania. It is the need for them to be full. Arriving at the bus station the conductor can tell you (to encourage you to get into his bus) 'we'll leave at 9:00am' . but that means nothing. So hours are spent sitting waiting in the sun. A potential passenger daren't more far away, in case that results in the bus going without him, his ticket then being lost. At any time, as if out of the blue, the driver can appear, jump in and start reviving the engine as a signal for all to cram abroad and be ready for off.
The terrain covered by these over-crowded and over loaded buses is equally incredible. Rocks, mud, crevasses, sharp inclines and descents are all traversed. What we didn't realize was that some cross-country buses will stop for an hour plus at a market place for people to buy and sell produce!
Our first point of call (I was travelling with my pastor from Kenya plus a Tanzanian colleague) was a church in a mining town called Mererani. The presence of various minerals in the vicinity, including Tanzanite, means that the lucky digger could make a quick fortune. Otherwise in the midst of desert scrubland, in which water had to be purchased from an hour's drive away, this town lived up to the reputation of gold-mining towns! The Luo were the largest immigrant tribe seeking to take advantage of the high money flow in this region, but we found that their reputation for rowdiness and drunkenness was rather well earned. We held seminars here for two days, as we continued to do at the following three locations.
An exhilarating drive up a sharp escarpment was our entry to Mbulu town.
A great centre for church of God, ex-KIST students proliferate in this region.
It is always a great joy to meet them and hear of their progress. This time our 2-day period of teaching was to be in a rural village, at a church next to a stream. This was a great church to be privileged to be ministering to.
A crowd of 50 + gathered for the main service, as many as 20 attended our leadership seminars, and we sensed a general seriousness with the Gospel. Another long hot wait preceded our bus ride to Haydom for the nextseminar.
We found an enthusiastic pioneering pastor steering a work just years old in a new town for church of God. The central church was mud and thatch, which meant that it was comfortable and cool. The pastors enthusiasm and commitment to the task that God had set him was awesome. I unfortunately suffered from some bug, and discovered what it was like to have to run out of a church and vomit at the very moment I was expected to stand and speak!
My church of God Missionary colleagues saved me from experiencing yet another bus trip while under the flu by sending a vehicle and driver to pick us up and take us to the final leg in our journey - Babati; the churches headquarters in Tanzania. It is good to mix closely with the African people, and also great to have missionary friends (from Church of God, America) ready to bail you out in times of need!
Much can be learned from different peoples expressions of church issues at a national headquarters such as Babati. While 3 days is far too short, I appreciate all those who shared insights, that in various ways help me in my ongoing teaching at KIST and at Yala. It was impressive again to see and hear of our ex-students being in action in various capacities in church and ministry.
Other impressions include those of the vastness of Tanzania. We have traversed hundreds of miles of thinly populated farmland and bush land. I remain with challenges, as to the relationship between what may in English be termed 'magic' and the Gospel - two things apparently seen as greatly overlapping in the Tanzanian understanding. I am inspired by the dedication shown by fellow Christian workers, and challenged to further consider the relationship between Western culture and the Gospel.
Thanks to all who made this trip possible "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men". (Luke 2:14).
Three of the children with whom I stay in my home at to be baptised on Sunday 2nd January 2005. Give thanks!
At KIST we have had our staff meeting, and are looking forward to opening on 3rd January. The rest of the Yala team is busy visiting our students, while I am otherwise engaged. I am to teach three classes in Yala next term, of which two being those at WAGAI and SIAYA are new classes. This takes the total number of classes being taught at Yala to nine.
Happy New Year to all!