Thursday, 15 January 2009

Grandparents, a tortoise and lots of elephants

Dear all,
Apologies for not updating the blog for so long (though hopefully you have had a link letter in between! – please email us if you're not on our link letter list and wish to be), here's a longer than normal post to make up for it. Happy new year to you all and we hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

We were very busy in the run up to Christmas. This picture shows our English language choir (students and staff) before the carols by candlelight service at the cathedral in Dodoma. We were asked to lead the worship at this service which was quite a privilege. We also organised a big ecumenical carol service for the university which again we led with the choir. It was a great success with all the denominations of Christian students coming together in a joint service of worship for the first time.

Daniel also spent lots of time preparing for his Christmas show at school which was a wonderful event. This is him afterwards with his best schoolfriend, Kirby. Daniel is now much more settled at school. He loves his reading and writing. He had a good report saying that he is doing very well academically and is now starting to relate much better with other children. Kirby has been a great help with this. Thank you for all your prayers for Daniel and please continue to pray that he continues to progress.

Shortly before Christmas we went to Kilimatinde for the wedding of our good friend, ex-student of Paul’s, and ex-choir colleague of Christine’s, James Msawile. He was married to Monica and it was a lovely day. We ended up taking the wedding video and providing the wedding car so it was a busy day too!

Having been here a year now we thank God Paul is fairly settled in his work, enjoying both the teaching and administrative tasks (except marking of course) as well as having developed good friendships and working relations with colleagues. His role is still a little unclear – teaching within three different departments as well as taking on administrative duties – but he is starting to enjoy this flexibility and stress levels are low. He is currently coordinating coursework data entry across two faculties, preparing Physics practicals for next semester, writing next semesters timetable, starting up a Physics Teachers Network for the Dodoma area and planning a science teaching methods course for next semester. Just one more week of teaching and then the exams start after which it’s marking followed by a short break before the second semester starts in March. With one module completed (result pending) Paul is just about to start on his second of 7 modules which will make up his MSc in E-learning. We pray that this will not just be an academic exercise but something that he will be able to apply here at the university in the not too distant future as we develop our e-learning systems.

We have a new addition to the family – this is Tricky, our tortoise. He was sold to us by some local children for 75p! We don’t see him very often as he finds lots of cosy places to hide in our garden but the boys enjoy hunting for him!

Over Christmas Paul’s parents came to stay. We had a lovely time with them. The boys were very happy to have them with us and enjoyed bonding/rebonding with them over lego and stories etc. having not seen them for a year. Paul and his dad kept themselves busy creating a rainwater catchment system on the house and started work on a shed! They ended their time with us with a safari to Mikumi wildlife park where we managed to see many animals close up even from our chalet and Isaac’s love of elephants was confirmed!

After they had left we had a visit from Grace (our friend and church youth worker from St. Austell, and Isaac’s God-mother) and Claire (another friend and church youth worker in Cornwall). We had a lovely time with them too and finished their visit with another short holiday on the beach in Bagamoyo.

Now we are back to our normal routine! We hope to start the Alpha course very soon. We have been praying for more people to join before we start. We have about 7 people already so we think we will now go ahead. Although it is a small group, if it is the right people we believe God will do great things with them. Please pray for this as we begin and for a possible student alpha in English that may run this year.

Christine (seen here with Greatlove our neighbours baby after her christening) hopes to start work within the next couple of weeks, working for TAYO (Tanzanian Anglican Youth Organisation) based at the Anglican church headquarters in Dodoma. At first she will just be working for 2 mornings a week until Isaac starts nursery at Easter. Our house help, Lidia, who we had thought would look after Isaac on these mornings is having 3 months off whilst she has a baby. Please pray for her and pray that we find a suitable person to help whilst she is away.

Revival Choir’s shop is continuing to do well. We have had a number of issues with the running and management of the shop but it is a steep learning curve for many of the people involved. However we are making a big profit and have been able to increase our stock so now we are in a position to start returning our loan and saving money to buy instruments. We raised enough money to buy a new keyboard which arrived from the UK with Paul’s parents much to everyone’s delight. Praise God for this and pray for the shop project that it will run smoothly from now on.

Our house back in St. Austell continues to be a worry. We still have no tenant despite dropping the rent and due to the financial crisis there are now a huge number of houses on the market for letting so there is big competition. We are very grateful to our wonderful friends Helen and Nigel Furneaux and Richard Staples, who have been working very hard to maintain and improve the house to try to attract tenants. Please pray that we will soon find a good tenant.