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News for middle of October 2002

Katesh is a small but fast growing town, some way up Mount Hanang, 80 km from Babati in Tanzania. Here the dust blows almost continuously. Mornings are cool, the midday hot. The place is alive with drunkards and hang-abouts.

Our first 6 nights were in a village 20 miles away. The pastor had chosen to wait to see us rather than announcing our coming ahead of time. There was a sense of lack-of progress and disunity amongst the churches we met with. Our discussion-based teaching session for the church leaders revealed that far from all was right. Our sessions began at 9.30 a.m., and went through to as late as 17.45 p.m. We taught, encouraged, sang, prayed, exalted, shared and talked for hour upon hour, trusting that God will use our visit to build his church in that place.

Our breakfast was maize-meal porridge and chicken! Time was not to be our master. The Sunday service was due to begin at 10.00 a.m. That was the time we finished our chicken-breakfast. 10.50 a.m. had us setting out for church, only to be called into a house en route for a slow cup of tea with rolls! To make up for a late start - we didn't get away from the church until 5.35 p.m.

Our host borrowed a bed from a neighbour, so that we could have 2 beds between the four of us. The 'mattress's was ropes tied in a lattice between a simple frame. The house wall and floor were. mud. Half the house was full of sacks of maize and of beans.

Katesh found things perhaps even harder. 7 men and only one bed in a room high on B.O. The church here is again perhaps even more in trouble. Church members eye each other, and us, rather warily. After a night of being prodded and bumped by my colleagues feet (next to my head) and knees, I admitted defeat and am now paying £1.15 per night for my own guest-house room near the church!

The seminar schedule here is less intense - just from 9.30 a.m. up to 4.00 p.m. Yet things are not right. Our 'leadership' session over-turns every stone seeking to help our hosts to comprehend and then overcome the problems besetting them. Unfortunately, our seminar coincides with the large local monthly market (mnada) so for two days attendance is down. Now they tell me that there is no food left to feed us visitors. What will we do about it?

Thanks for your prayers. Pray for Moses - a keen young man and potential church leader who turned to Christ from Islam just 11 months ago. Yakobo, the local overseer, who has a hard task on his hands encouraging a flock that is scattering. Pray for the many folks who are attending our seminar sessions.

In just 3 months time I should be in Birmingham, beginning a 3 month time of intense study being the beginning of a PhD programme. Pray for preparations for this time.

Jim Harries