Friday, 21 August 2009

New territory

This week I visited a language area I have never been to before. It was one of the most unpleasant journies I have been on, on account of the dust. The place itself was hot and dry, with lots of mosquitoes. If it wasn’t so hazy, you would be able to see Lake Rukwa spread out in the plain below, as it was, you could just see the edges of it and the sun glinting off the water through the dusty haze.

Amusing moments on this trip included seeing my Tanzanian colleagues looking as if they had turned old after the journey as a result of the dust in their hair turning it grey! We had a good laugh together about that. The dust didn’t show up on me, but it was definitely there, I could feel and smell it.
Discouraging moments included feeling unable understand conversational Swahili or to communicate my thoughts clearly. (I’m not sure how much of that was due to my lack of vocabulary, tiredness or my mind just being elsewhere!)

Best moments included walking out at sunset and seeing the red sun dropping down and going out at night and being able to see the milky way…my highlights are often connected to God’s awesome creation!
Fun moments included trying some new food, called sharif. It was like a giant samosa, fried in another layer of batter, and with an egg in the centre! It was so filling, it kept me going from breakfast (yes, I had it for breakfast!!) until 4pm, with only a soda in between.

Unpleasant moments included lying in bed and hearing the mosquitoes buzzing all around (though fortunately I was well protected under the mosquito net).
Tiring moments…well, it can’t really be called a ‘moment’ because it was constant – using Swahili all the time – that’s tiring. Most of my trips I make with English friends, but this time there was no chance for me to use my Mother Tongue with a fellow mother-tongue speaker (though my Tanzanian colleagues speak very good English, so I could revert to it if I really needed to).

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A day is like a week

Matema Beach - by Lake Nyasa
Matema seems to be a magical place. One day there and I feel I have been there a whole week soaking up its beauty, letting the early morning mistyness over the mountains refresh my soul as I sit there having my quiet time and watching the sun rising over the peaks, swimming in the fresh waters of the lake or feeling the sun warm me through as I lie on the beach with a book. That all sounds very romanticised – I’ll put it down to reading Anne of Green Gables! However, it truly is a beautiful spot. The ride there wasn’t quite so enjoyable, but so long as you could ignore the discomfort of sitting on the narrow uncomfy seats of a rattly daladala, it was a pleasant, if rather long journey, made all the more pleasurable by good company – the Wisbeys together with Matt’s family who are visiting (see picture). On the way back from our trip we visited the Bridge of God – a remarkable natural structure (see picture).
This all came after holding a follow-up workshop for Sunday School teachers in a town down towards the lake. The feedback was really encouraging from the few teachers that came – it seems that they have really tried to use some of the things that they learned in the earlier training they received, and that it’s producing results – such as the children understanding better and more children coming.
On arrival back in Mbeya we were confronted with the kind of issue that you might think we face regularly living in Africa, but which we actually face very rarely in our daily lives – the guard at the Wisbey’s compound had sent his baby to a witch doctor because it was ill. I won’t go into detail as it would make a whole blog on its own, suffice to say, this episode, coupled with hearing about the reality of withcraft from a Christian lady working with street children, all in the same week, has aroused fresh awareness of the spiritual battle that we face.
On a happier note – the rest of the day finished off in a fun way as I joined Karin briefly for her birthday ‘party’ and then went out for a Chinese (can you believe we have a Chinese restaurant here?!!)

Monday, 3 August 2009


One thing Tanzanians know how to do is sing (and dance – can’t have one without the other)! We recently held a two-day workshop to train Sunday School Teachers in one of the language areas where we work. One of the highlights of that workshop for me was hearing them sing in their mother tongue, with obvious joy on their faces. Being in that place reminded me once again of the importance of our work – that of Bible Translation. Often I find myself teaching in places where people from a variety of language groups live, so Swahili is heard more often than not, instead of their mother tongues. However, in this particular village, they all belong to the same people group, and lunchtime conversation was nearly all in their mother tongue. I so wished that, instead of just encouraging them to teach the children in their mother tongue, I could have actually given them Bible story books to use or Scripture itself in their language. Please pray for this work!

1) The beautiful location for the workshop 2) A carpenter at work in the village

3) Liz teaching the Sunday School Teachers