Sunday, 25 May 2008

Toddlers,toys,exams & enthronements

Dear all,
Sorry for not updating the blog for so long – we have been extremely busy as the end of term approaches.

A few weeks ago we visited this nursery school run by the Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Dodoma. A local pastor we know invited us and although we were only able to go on a Saturday we were warmly welcomed by a large group of children and teachers and given a good meal and gifts. The boys had a great time showing off their jigsaw skills! Christine hopes to visit with Isaac some mornings on an informal basis.

The following day Paul and Daniel had a very exciting trip to Mpwapwa, a village a couple of hours drive away from Dodoma where a missionary family are just packing up to return to the UK. They came back with a car full of goodies including a slide and lots of toys, books and jigsaws, as well as 360 copies of the Swahili alpha book we have been using, as it was this family who originally translated and produced it. We are confident that we will be able to use these or pass some on for use in other areas over the coming years.

Our first Alpha course ended last week. It was a great success and everyone is keen to see another course take place. We already have a good number of people signed up, mostly non-Christian friends of the participants of the last course. We hope to get enough people signed up to run 2 groups simultaneously – one for men and one for women – enabling freer discussion especially in the women’s group. We aim to start again in September.

The toddler group is still going well. The twins in the picture are two of our regulars and they talk about the group all week referring to it as “school”. Sadly, our neighbours and very good friends suddenly moved house into town so we have lost our most regular members.

Paul has been busy as usual within the Education and Science faculties at the university. The second semester is now drawing to a close and lectures and seminars are now finished with exams starting on Monday. Before students can sit for exams they need to pass their coursework element but checking this has involved entering the data for over 20 pieces of coursework (once marked) per student for 400 students into a newly written database on our computer. This has proved hectic but we’re just about there and fortunately very few students have failed. After the exams and the subsequent marking and collating of results Paul will have some time to focus on preparing for the Physics course. TCU have provisionally approved the Physics course to run in August but have yet to give the final thumbs up and may come and inspect the laboratories at any time. Paul is still cataloguing, testing and mending the apparatus and may need to prepare some practical experiments for a group of students from the Open University of Tanzania who may visit in June. With this and preparing course material for August there won’t be much time for an end of year break before observation of teaching practice students starts in early August before the start of the new term.

Julius, our gardener, continues to work hard with much help from Isaac and is very creative. Our garden has been looking beautiful recently and has started to produce fruit and veg too.

Christine has nearly completed her distance course which has been really interesting. She is also busy working with the choir continuing to plan for the big event in July. We have been visiting various local churches to sing and to generate support for the event which is great fun. Christine has also attended her first “Mkesha” since returning to Tanzania - an all night celebration to mark the end of a period of mourning following the death of a local man and to give thanks for his life. It began at 9pm and went on to 6am with a huge amount of singing and dancing led by the choir, and was followed (after a snatched 2 hours sleep) at 10am by a service of thanksgiving.

We recently went to Kilimatinde for the annual confirmation service at which Amani Shaban (see earlier blogs) was confirmed, by Bishop John Lupaa.

We are much more settled at church now and have been going to the English Sunday school in town from time to time. We have discovered that the service at our local church is exactly the right length for Daniel to complete a box of three 50 piece jigsaws so he is very happy! The English language choir has made a huge difference to the worship at the English service and we enjoy the fellowship we have with that group.

Today was a very important day for the Anglican church in Tanzania, with the enthronement of the new Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa. We didn’t attend the service as we anticipated the 5 hour marathon that it was and knew the boys would not cope, but we went to the welcome party (which took place here at the university) representing CMS UK.

Please pray:
n For the newly elected Archbishop of Tanzania – that God will guide him in his service to the church
n For the boys – that they continue to settle here, making new friends and growing in confidence
n For the tasks that Paul faces over the new few months – that he keeps focussed on God, manages to complete the many essential tasks ahead and settles into the role God wants him to play at the university
n For the forthcoming tamasha that Revival Choir are organising – that it be a success in that the church is encouraged, funds are raised and God’s name is praised.