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

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.