Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Heavy days and holidays


Dear all, many greetings from a dry and dusty Dodoma. We’ve now passed the middle of the dry season and the temperature is beginning to build (so much so we have now removed blankets from the beds)as we approach the rains in December.
It’s been a while since the last post for which we apologise but we (at least Christine) have been fairly busy and so have lots to tell you and load of photos to show you.
Back in July we had some hellos and goodbyes. Christine's mum, Jean, or Grandma to the boys, came and visited us for 3 weeks during which we spent some time in Dar on the beach, some time visiting our friend Musa, a musician and evangelist in Singida and some time just at home letting Jean see our life, friends and work in Dodoma. The photos show us with Musa and his daughter Merina on some rocks near Singida lake, a natural beauty spot.
 








During this time we unfortunately had to say goodbye to our close friends and neighbours Martin and Jane Canning who returned back to the UK after completing their term of service with USPG, our social life has yet to pick up again although we are working on it.
Paul put the finishing touches to his masters dissertation, submitting it in August, and is now waiting for the result and his virtual graduation in second life (Edinburgh was a bit far to go to pick up a piece of paper so it’s all happening on-line). Since then things have been relatively quiet at the university being the long break between academic years, the time of the year when Paul normally takes on a few projects to keep him busy. Apart from the usual conundrum that is the timetable, which this year was completed well before the start of the new academic year,  Paul has been mopping up the promises of money from the fundraiser mentioned in the last post,  revamping some of the physics practicals, teaching visiting school groups, arranging loans of apparatus to local schools for practical exams, training a colleague to use  the examinations database, travelling to Manyoni to observe students on their teaching practice and is currently supervising some construction/renovation projects that need to be complete for the start of the new academic year in a couple of weeks.
The photo shows the resurfacing and re-varnishing of the chemistry laboratory benches using a special hard wearing varnish brought out in the container mentioned in this blog over a year ago. When the term starts Paul will be back in the thick of it being the primary lecturer for one particular course of over 800 students, half of which will be facilitated on the university’s virtual learning environment – an exciting new development in increasing the e-learning provision at St John’s and perhaps stress testing the systems if not Paul himself.
Christine has been extremely busy at work since the last blog (perhaps why there hasn’t been a blog for a while!) First we had a big fundraising event in Dar-es –Salaam in July which went well raising a good amount of money for TAYO projects. In August we had a month long music and worship school which we held here at St. John’s as the facilities were available whilst the students are away.  25 students attended from all over Tanzania and it was a very successful course, all students saying how blessed they were by it.
The picture shows all the students with their finishing certificates. In September we held a four day national youth conference with youth groups attending from 21 of the 27 dioceses of the Anglican Church of Tanzania and enjoying teaching, worship, a singing festival, sports competitions and general fellowship and sharing with other young people. The picture above shows members of one of the youth choirs on stage. The conference was a great success, though left Christine thoroughly exhausted!
In between events we have been continuing to follow up the small loans project in the diocese of Mpwapwa where all the groups are developing their projects well and returning their loans. The picture shows one of the groups beside their pig sty, the project they developed with their loan. You can read more and see lots of pictures of all this work on the ACT youth office blog http://tanzaniaanglicanyouth.blogspot.com

Also, in early September Christine and Kikuyu Gospel Singers went to record our first album. We recorded in a relatively new studio in Dodoma and all went well. We are now waiting for the mixing to be finished before be produce our CDs. The picture shows some of the altos in the studio.

During the break there has been no English service and so no English choir. Instead the family have been going with Christine to the Swahili service which she usually attends at the University Chapel. Up to three hours of church in Swahili can at times be a bit much for the boys (and occasionally Paul) and so about once a month we’ve been doing ‘Church at home’ where Paul arranges some child friendly activities at home for the Boys including videos, songs, worksheets etc. This has now grown after we invited lots of our friends and neighbours who normally attend the English service Sunday school such that we can be quite a crowd. Fortunately the university term is soon to start so Paul can hand over that sort of thing to our proper Sunday school worker.
Daniel has just turned 9 and had a great time celebrating with a trip to the pizzeria (I say ‘the’ because there is only 1 in Dodoma) on his birthday itself and had a great “Beast Quest” themed party at home at the weekend. For those of you without children of the right age “Beast Quest” is a series of adventure/fantasy books on which Daniel has been hooked for nearly 2 years. Isaac has been enjoying playing with all of Daniel’s presents (perhaps a little too much) but also enjoyed dressing up smart recently for a wedding of a friend from the university. In the picture he is proudly holding the cake we received as part of the grooms “family”.
We are continually thankful for all your support both financially and in prayer. We are especially thankful for the very generous individual donations that enabled some of Christine’s projects to happen recently. Please continue to pray for us and our friends and colleagues as we seek to be a blessing amongst the people of Dodoma.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Fundraising and Farewells


Dear all,

It’s been a little while since our last posting but it seems that an awful lot has happened since then so this one should be a bit longer than normal.

 The rains have now ended and the colour everywhere is turning from green to beige while the temperature has dropped enough for us to put a blanket on the bed. We celebrated Christine’s birthday in May with a trip to the pizzeria (requested by the boys) and managed to smuggle in our own birthday cake made by Paul & the boys seen here.

We thought it about time to change our profile picture so got a friend to take the following photo while on a walk at the dam on a public holiday – a favourite place of ours which has featured here before.

Paul has had a busy end to this semester with a few projects on the go on top of the usual teaching commitments. As part of the second year Physics laboratory classes we ran a 2 week IT workshop where the students had to perform 7 different datalogging experiments. We’ve been doing this for the last 2 years but having received some shiny new kit from Labaid and some new computers in the container over the past year, this year’s workshop was all whistles and bells like nothing ever seen before in Dodoma. The photo shows students analysing data from one of the experiments.

Paul’s main project over the past few weeks has been the fundraising event mentioned in the last post. An enormous amount of work was put into preparing for the event by the team Paul headed up especially immediately before the event when our guest of honour pulled out at short notice. Thankfully Professor Meshack, the retired Vice Chancellor of the university stepped in and despite their being a low turnout we rather miraculously still managed to raise over 5 million shillings (£2000). A great achievement but not an experience Paul wants to repeat in a hurry. The picture shows our guest singer Jennifer Mgendi who was a big hit with the other choirs who attended the event. The project will still be ongoing (but at a less frantic pace) as we seek to raise or borrow the remaining funds and start contacting building contractors. Your prayers are appreciated.

One weekend recently we decided to try to scale radio hill, a local hill that we once before tried to climb but at that time it was too much for the boys. This time, a little bigger and stronger they made it to the top (along with mum & dad of course) and the two pictures here were taken as the intrepid explorers made their way down to base camp (the car).

At work Christine has been busy planning for 2 big events, firstly a fundraising event for the studio project in July, and secondly a national youth conference in September which will be a huge event held here in Dodoma. Please pray for these events that they will be successful and glorify God. Please have a look at the ACT youth office blog on the link above for more information and also a video about my work.
The university year is now coming to an end and once again we have had to say goodbye to a large part of our English choir as some of our longstanding members graduate. A few weeks ago we had a lovely but quite sad party in our garden to see them off, as shown in this picture.

Lots of Love and Blessings,

Paul, Christine. Daniel and Isaac.xxx






Thursday, 12 April 2012

Easter

We pray that you have all had a wonderful Easter time celebrating the ressurection of our Lord. We had a wonderful celebration here in Dodoma, starting with a procession with real palms fresh from the tree on Palm Sunday (I hope to post some video of this at a later date) This picture shows a gathering at our neighbours' house for lunch on Easter Sunday with fellow mission partners living at the university.

It has been a long time since our last blog but we hope many of you have received our link letter in between. If anyone would like to go onto our email list to receive our link letter please let us know. Thank you for your prayers for rain. We praise God that after the lull in the rainfall it did return in plenty, and though some crops were lost many were salvaged and this year the harvest is reasonable.

At the end of March Isaac celebrated his 6th birthday with his usual party in the garden. This year it had an "Angry Birds" theme (a computer game for those who are confused!) The picture shows him, with his Angry Birds cake. The boys are now on a 2 week school holiday following Easter and are very much enjoying the break.

At the end of term we were treated to the usual Easter production at school. This year a very straightforward gospel story acted out by the children, interspersed with songs, which was very powerful. This picture shows the boys preparing to sing with their classmates. Daniel was also presented with his certificate as the winner for his year of the school poetry competition. Here he is proudly displaying his certicate together with winners from other classes.


With the second semester in full swing at the university, Paul is back into the regular routine of labs and lectures but has managed to get Fridays off to focus on finishing off his masters dissertation. The English Service Choir is also back into action in good voice but still a little low on numbers. Please pray that it grows this semester before we lose a good proportion who will be graduating at the end of the year. June will also see the culmination of Paul's and many others' work in preparing a large fundraiser, Tanzanian style, for a student accomodation building project. This is a partnership between the university and the English Service and should be a great venture for all however there is still a lot of work to be done, you're prayers for which we would be very much appreciated.

Christine has been very busy at work. We held a second music and worship seminar in March in the southern zone of the country - this meant a  journey to Songea in the far South West of Tanzania, a very long but very beautiful journey. The seminar was a huge success and a great blessing to all involved. We have also just held elections for a new TAYO youth committee and an enthusiastic new committee has been chosen. They are pictured here together with the archbishop of Tanzania, the general secretary of the Anglican church of Tanzania and Rt.Rev Bill Atwood, an American bishop visiting from Nairobi. We praise God for the new committee which will be a huge help to Christine in her work. You can read more about both of these events on the TAYO blog. (http://tanzaniaanglicanyouth.blogspot.com)



At the end of March, Kikuyu Gospel Singers held a 3 day mission to the local community - a time of powerful preaching, prayer, music and worship. It was a wonderful and blessed time, many people gave their lives to Christ, and others were delivered from demons. These pictures show some of the crowd during a prayer time and another choir worshipping at the mission . Kikuyu Gopsel Singers are now preparing to record ourfirst music album in September. Please pray for us as we prepare and fundraise for this project.

With lots of love and blessings,
Christine, Paul, Daniel and Isaac. xxx

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Parties, Parks and Pirates

Dear friends,
We wish you all a very happy new year if a little late!
We had a wonderful Christmas with friends from St. Austell visiting us. We had a dramatic start to their visit as Christine and the boys went to Dar-es-Salaam to meet them and spend a few days in the sun. In fact we had 3 days of continuous torrential rain in Dar which caused huge floods and disruption. Our return journey to Dodoma took 11 hours, starting by taking a long detour along dirt roads, and finishing driving hours through storms in the dark! We also had two very large speakers on the roof of the car which we had bought in Dar for Kikuyu Gospel Singers, following all our fundraising last year. We thank God we finally arrived home safely and the rain hadn't got into the speakers!

In general the rainy season started really well this year and in some areas people are already harvesting produce. However, there seems to have been a break in the rain for a while, and a little more is still needed, particularly in the Dodoma area. Please pray for more rain.

We spent Christmas itself in Dodoma and had a few days trip to Kilimatinde on boxing day. This picture shows Christmas dinner with our guests the Clearys (Ian, Marilyn, Lowenna and Samara), together with neighbours Graham and Alison, at the chinese restaurant in Dodoma, which was followed by

a swim in the open air pool!

On Christmas eve Christine became God-mother again, to Patricia shown in this picture with her dad , John who sings with Christine in Kikuyu Gospel Singers. It was a lovely service with about 15 infant baptisms and a fair few adult baptisms, followed by a party back at Patricia's home.

For new year we went with the Clearys to Mikumi National Park and had a lovely few days safari. We camped at a lovely site just outside the park. The pictures show the children washing vegetables ready for the camp fire and a sample of some of the wildlife.

The boys have a long school holiday at Christmas time and have only been back at school for a week and a half. They enjoyed their holidays playing with friends and enjoying their new Christmas presents. One of the highlights was a "Pirate party" pictured here.

Christine has been busy at work since Christmas. The small loans project is now well underway in the diocese of Mpwapwa and we have trained the groups and given out loans (see the ACT youth office blog on the link for more info). We are also planning to run another music and worship seminar in March in the South of Tanzania, and are planning and fundraising for a big national youth conference in September. Please pray for us as we develop all these different projects and try to raise the funds needed for them.

Paul reached the grand old age of 41 last week and celebrated by inviting a few friends over for nibbles in the garden. The highlight for the children was the new zip wire - our latest addition to the back garden adventure playground, that was until Ian, Daniel's best friend from next door fell off it with a horrible thud and got us all very worried as he was unconscious for a while. It turned out that it was just bumps and bruises praise God. Paul's keeping himself busy at work with issues such as the timetable for the new semester starting in a couple of weeks time and is constantly looking for distractions from the dreaded ongoing exam marking - the one part of teaching I never could bear.
In January we welcomed back our good friends Festo, from Kilimatinde and Grace, from St. Austell, who were married in November in St. Austell. We had wonderful party in Kilimatinde to receive them. We were honoured to be the "wadhamini" (sort of best man and best woman) even though it wasn't actually the wedding! This is a picture of us at the party, with two very sleepy boys (it was a late night!) and Grace's mum and dad in the background.
We were recently invited to be guests of honour at a big event for a choir in a village called Msemembo near Kilimatinde. This picture shows the event. It was a fun but tiring day.

The video clip below shows Kikuyu Gospel Singers practising our Christmas song in our back garden (minus Christine as she was filming!)


With much love and blessings to you all,
Christine, Paul, Daniel and Isaac.xxx

video