Sunday, 30 March 2014

Christmas, Conferences and Cakes

We trust you all had a wonderful Christmas! It seems a long time ago now. We had a lovely Christmas at home in Dodoma enjoying services and parties with Tanzanian friends and with the local missionary community.  The pictures show the Christmas morning service at our own church at St. John's, and the "Carols by Candlelight" service at Dodoma Cathedral. 
After Christmas we had a wonderful few days holiday in Iringa with friends the Duncans and their daughter Hana, shown in the picture. With development of the road system in Tanzania, what was a long 9 hour trip to Iringa is now only 4 hours. It is a beautiful part of the country where we were able to enjoy walks in woodlands beside rivers and waterfalls and see sights such as “mini- Isimilla” pictured here with amazing erosion gulleys. Daniel in particular enjoyed the zip wire across the river which was the only way to reach the other side!

In our last blog post we gave the tragic news of the death of the university’s Vice Chancellor Prof Mwaluko. Since then we have been beset by further loss and are still in need of people to fill management positions at the University. A few weeks ago we learnt that the person appointed to fill one of our senior positions was now unable to come and we need to readvertise, then last week Paul attended the funeral  of Mr Muganda who had headed the communication skills centre since the university opened and now this week we have heard of the death of the Bishop of this diocese, Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo, who although not being directly involved in the university had huge influence in this area and was a great friend and ally. With the search for a new Vice Chancellor still ongoing, a feeling of loss and fatherlessness pervades the university at this time and we are much in need of your prayers.

Life and work, however, continues and Paul, having completed his teaching practice observations for this break, is currently trying to get the timetable finished before the start of semester in a few weeks time. There are plenty of other projects on the go for which I’d appreciate your prayers, many of which have been put on the back burner during the last busy semester. These include installing a rainwater catchment and cooling water recycling system for the Chemistry laboratory water distillation unit, the ongoing student dormitory project and completing the air extraction systems in the Chemistry laboratories.

Following the last blog the university celebrated its 4th graduation. It was a wonderful event and despite the recent loss of our Vice Chancellor and, at one point, a rather heavy downpour, the day was a good time to celebrate the achievements students and staff over the past 3 years. The picture shows the poor nursing students who were caught in the worst of the rain as they took their oath.

Outside of work commitments Paul has given the Swahili classes a break and is now running an after school club at CAMS (the school the boys attend). Around 20 pupils have signed up and, despite the occasional power cut, we are enjoying getting to grips with the SCRATCH child-friendly programming environment. It is hoped that within a few weeks, once we have covered the basics, the children can use their creativity to design and develop their own projects and games.

Paul has also built a new tree house. The old one was a little worse for wear and now the boys are older they are able to have a higher more interesting house which is great fun for them and their friends (and mum)

Christine’s work is progressing well with a number of exciting projects going ahead before our leave in July. We have just completed our latest music and worship school for musicians from across Tanzania. This time we had nearly 50 students and as usual it was a great success and a great blessing to all involved. We are now preparing for the provincial week of prayer in April, and a trip to Kigoma on the West of Tanzania to train evangelists. Read more in my work blog (link above)

In February we went to Nairobi for a CMS conference for CMS UK mission partners working in Africa, together with CMS Africa personnel. It was a wonderful opportunity for fellowship, sharing and learning from one another, as well as a chance to explore the aims and vision of CMS for the future. The boys enjoyed a wonderful children’s programme and thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

In February Kikuyu Gospel Singers completed our video recording and we are now waiting for the producer to complete the DVD. It was hard work but great fun to do. The choir have now been given a project by a local Christian medical centre which involves writing and recording songs on a number of health issues to be used in campaigns, and performing at a launch of a project to promote awareness of cervical cancer, which will take place in a few weeks. It has been a great challenge as it is very different to our usual work, but we hope it will be of benefit to the communities and help to raise awareness of some important issues.

Today we celebrated Isaac’s 8th birthday with a “Despicable Me” themed party, which was great fun with many “minion” themed games activities. The boys are now approaching their Easter holidays and are eagerly rehearsing for the Easter production.