Water water every where but not a drop to drink…

Since arriving back in the UK with Zeph and William the weather has been typically British, we arrived just before storm Nigel and so far have seen rain wind and hail and tis rather cold. On the flip side Festo over in Tanzania is despairing as his and everyone’s elses maize crop fails due to lack of rain. He says a little more rain might enable a sunflower harvest but there is little hope.

Similarly yesterday as we woke up to Red Nose Day here, I received the following picture from Festo asking for help to find a solution to our water problem….

These are primary school children at St John’s fetching water at the begining of their school day. Quite a juxtaposition for the boys who wore Red non uniform to school and started their school day doing ‘Move n Groove’ along with many schools across Cornwall in aid of Comic Relief. Quite interesting for us to be on the doners side and the receivers side all at once.

For the last few years we have been connected to the village water supply and all has been well. The committee that organise the water is made up of elected villagers and there was a change of committee last year. The current committee are sadly not running the project well or operating the equipment properly. When we got back from the UK last year we heard stories of how most of the village had been hospitalised over the previous couple of months and investigation showed that it was due to the village water tank being completely drained. This is something that should never happen as any muck and bacteria in the water sinks to the bottom.

In December we lived without water for the whole month as there was a battle over our water bill (for the school as well as our home) which had suddenly trippled in price. Investigation showed that it was due to the way the committee were pumping the water and creating airlocks causing our water meter to read air passing through it rather than water.

Personally that was a very challenging time.

We would really like to have our own well at St. John’s so that we can have peace of mind over the safety of our water and some consistency of when we get it.

Now being back in the UK just over 2 weeks I am already begining to take for granted the beauty of our Cornish water, running baths for the boys, drinking it straight from the tap, but the memory of how hard it was in December is still fresh in my mind.. Do I flush the toilet, or wash my children or wash some clothes???

We are not asking for financial support at the moment but for your prayers and if you know someone, who knows someone, who knows something about drilling wells in Africa/Tanzania we would love to find out if they can help us. On an average day we have 350 students on site, 250 boarding along with a further 20 staff living on site, (plus kids like Zeph and Will), and another 20 staff who come on site each day.

In contrast, since we have been home Zeph has had his 6th birthday, William his hair cut and made friends with the builders working at Nanny and Grandad’s. They both love their school/Nursery here is St. Austell. Zeph has had a night in hospital and Mummy is receiving excellent anti natal care, ❤️ NHS. Not bad for 16 days back in the UK!?

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Dear Friends,

Festo and I are pleased to announce that we are expecting baby Kanungha mark 3. Due in August. The early weeks have not been easy for us though and I have had quite a bit of anxiety due I think to the loss of Upendo when I was 20 weeks pregnant in 2016, also in the last couple of weeks I have had typhoid and sinusitis which has dragged me down. In January we made a decision in cooperation with CMS and our Diocesean Bishop that I would travel back to the UK early to carry out the majority of the pregnancy there. I will arrive with Zeph and William on Thursday of this week (28th Feb) and will stay until after our baby is born. Festo will join us nearer the due date.

Today we are sat on the beach just outside Dar es Salaam, playing in the sand and enjoying the warmth of the Indian Ocean. We are having a precious couple of days with Festo before we will be apart for 4ish months.

We would very much appreciate your prayers at this time, for safe travel, good health, for those we leave behind and most importantly for God’s presence guiding, protecting and comforting us.

Today’s view…

Much love to you all, and for those in the land of Kernow, see you soon !

The Power of Love

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This Advent as we have been listening to Christmas songs the lyrics of “Mary did you know?” have stirred our thoughts. Also some sermons we have listened to online challenging us that we do not fully understand the power of Christ in us and if we did we would live differently. This Christmas as we prepare once more to receive the Christ Child and share celebrations with our family and friends we remember that “The same power that conquered the grave lives in us” Romans 8 v 11 (Paraphrased).  And we ask how can we live lives that reflect, show and demonstrate this power this Christmas time and into 2019 on wards?

As always the weeks since our last blog have busy but not much exciting to report! We have been in a season of exams. However we did have a wonderful graduation for our Nursery School children (being sat on the top table I failed to get many pictures). Both schools are now closed for the Christmas holidays/farming season!

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Zeph Graduating from Nursery School

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Annika and Isabel at their farewell party having served with us for three months in the Nursery School.

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Lisa (R) and her friend Ellen with Agnes our tailoring Teacher. Lisa served with us for three months in 2016 and came back for a couple of weeks in November to visit us.

Some of you might remember that when we were in the UK we were buying wedding dresses ready to start a new project… well we have eventually gotten around to beginning it and here is our first bride to be trying on her dress of choice from our selection. The wedding is this Saturday (8th). It is such a privilege and a gift to be with her as she chose THE dress and to encourage her as she begins her married life.

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In family news we have had both a birth and a death. Festo’s niece Mage, gave birth to a beautiful little boy. Her husband, Maombi (Name means Prayer!) gave him the name Prince, at Festo’s home village however he is being called Nyemo which is one of Festo’s names and the one they use at home, because little Prince is quite a feisty little thing.

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Festo with Nyemo

Sadly we also said farewell to Festo’s Aunt who had reached the mighty age of 94. Her husband is Uncle Meshack (who baptised Zeph) he is 96 and is a retired Canon in the Anglican Church. The Bishop of Dodoma presided over the funeral and said that he had asked Uncle Meshack what the secret of his marriage was, as he had noticed over the years how he and his wife were always together and supporting one another which is not necessarily normal here. Uncle Meshack answered that they were not just husband and wife but best friends. His wife had been his teacher as well as his lover and friend, she taught him how to read and write and how to speak Swahili, he only knew his tribes language Chigogo. He brought her to know Jesus and so they lived a life of mutual respect and friendship. A fantastic testimony to be shared in this culture.

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Bishop of Dodoma preaching at the funeral

We are still fundraising for our various projects and for our own support through CMS but what we really want to ask for this Christmas time is your prayers. Your prayers that we would truly know the power of Christ in our lives to accomplish all that he has set before us.

One of our supporters, Julie Fagan, who visited us earlier this year has offered to run a prayer alert for us. The idea being that on a Tuesday we send her our prayer requests and praises for that week and she can forward them on to those who already pray for us regularly (or want to start!) but don’t always know what our immediate prayer needs are. If you would like to join in please email Julie on faganjulie@yahoo.co.uk

Please pray this weekend for Grace’s parents as they arrive in Dar and Grace as she travels to meet them, for a blessed holiday season together and a precious Christmas remembering Jesus’ birth.

Please pray for the rain to sort itself out and rain properly and for farmers to have wisdom over when to plant.

Please pray for Festo as he is regularly feeling overwhelmed by all the responsibilities he holds at work and at home.

Autumn term 2018

A little picture of daily life…

Last night was a late one, up until 12:30 pm ordering Christmas presents online for our boys so that Grace’s parents can bring them out to us when they visit in December (the excitement is palpable). So the 5:30am wake up wasn’t so appreciated but only half an hour earlier than usual. William was in our bed chattering away. I went out to the loo and on my way back heard “Muuuuum” from Zeph so for a brief time we played sardines in our bed. At 6:30 am having just wrestled (literally) the children into their school uniforms we received the first “Hodi” of the day a visitor for Festo wanting help to make a phone call to relatives in Dodoma one of which is unwell. Within minutes a second arrived this time for Grace, a lovely older lady with some serious health problems which we help out with some basic needs. By 7:30 am the kids have eaten some cereal, (One of the luxuries we allow because it makes the morning routine easier although not available to buy within a 100 km radius of where we live and the last box is getting seriously low.) their teeth are cleaned and they are heading over to school. In the meantime three more visitors have arrived, students have been to help with the morning chores for the menagerie, Festo has gone to work, Grace has straightened the house (well sort of!) and  by 8:30 am I am sat at my desk having done a quick check of emails and writing this blog.

News from around St. John’s…..

Nursery and Primary

Building work has started at St. John’s Nursery and Primary School, the first phase which was completed in 2016 saw 4 classrooms and a toilet block being built. Right now we are building a further 5 classrooms, staff room and office space. Please pray for safety on the building site and for our continuing fundraising efforts.

You can see how the work began by watching this video.

The foundations are now being filled in and the first two rows of bricks have been laid.

Secondary

We had our form four graduation… For the first time our primary school performed a song which was a special an emotional moment.

The highlight of this was the announcement by the district education officer who was our guest of honour saying that St. John’s is one of two schools chosen by the government to provide A’levels in this district. It depends on us putting the needed infrastructure in place (which is dormitories!) but it will hopefully mean that there shouldn’t be too many obstacles when it comes to registration. Also present was the district education officer for primary schools and he encouraged us to keep going with the registration process for our primary school (which cannot be complete until the next phase of building work is completed) and that we will get there in the end! The announcement led to a spontaneous fundraiser for our dormitories, watch this space as the build and more fundraising will begin once the Primary school is finished. We hope to start providing A’levels from May 2019… Please pray for the form fours as they start their exams on Monday November 5th.

In September we hosted a seminar for teachers across our zone (taking in several regions) on competence based teaching. This was a long time in the planning and brought about due to a huge change in the Tanzanian curriculum moving from content based learning to competence based learning. A move we are very happy about! But for teachers who were trained to the content based learning system it is a big change. We have over 50 teachers at our seminar from Primary and Secondary Schools. The Seminar was led by the Tanzania Christian Social Services Council who are doing a fantastic work.

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At the beginning of September Festo and I and some of our other staff were invited by the Diocese to a seminar on how to make a 5 year plan not only learning how but actually doing it as well. It was a really interesting process which we are still completing, so helpful to us in trying to think about the direction we are hoping to take the school and how to reach there step by step.

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Festo explaining the progress made in the last 5 years before planing the next 5 years

In October I (Grace) had a fun trip to Bunda and Musoma (Northern Tanzania by lake Victoria) with 5 other teachers from across the Nursery/Primary/Secondary schools we went to visit the school in the Diocese of Mara, we saw a lot, were encouraged greatly and had a laugh along the way. Here are some highlights…

 

Please pray that our friendship with Mara Diocese and the schools and workers there will continue to grow and that we will be able to be an encouragement to one another as we minister to see lives transformed through quality education and the love of Christ.

These ladies are our latest volunteers, we introduced Silvie and Joella from DMG in a previous blog but had no photo, here they are with Isabel and Annika who have come for three months to join our team.

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L-R Isabel, Joella, Annika, Silvie

Zumm…..MU….Church

In September most of the Mothers Unions groups from around the Diocese gathered in the village if Chikuyu for bible teaching and a lot of singing as each group forms a choir. Grace had the privilege of attending with Upendo choir which is from our church in Solya, singing with them they song they write based on the bible verse “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them!” Matthew 19 v 14. I was given an hour to speak about Zumm our program encouraging parents to speak with them little babies to develop good language pathways in the brain. I did it with some of the ladies from our MU group that I have been training up, they were fab! Please pray that they might invite us to their parishes to run the Zumm teaching.

Whilst learning the song and repeating the words of this bible verse over and over I really felt a need to ask the church to provide a Sunday school. At the time there was a Sunday School that met on Sunday afternoon (and this is continuing), but I looked out across the church and saw 15-20 3-10 year old’s, somehow managing to sit still and quiet but clearly not engaging with the service, and then I remembered my own children outside with a couple of others playing in the dirt and how they complained that morning about having to go to church because it is so “booorring” and so “looong”. I then remembered the Sunday School at Holy Trinity, St. Austell,that I was involved in when I worked in the parish, I felt so sad that my own children don’t get that chance. I wondered what message we were sending our children about God/Jesus and church and I remembered once more how strongly I believe that the church is family from youngest to eldest and each one has their place and their needs to be met. During the notices I was propelled from my bench to speak to the church and ask them could we please make some provision for children during the service. The Vicar agreed there and then that we would start the following Sunday. It hasn’t been without it’s challenges but we all start together in the service, the children are prayed for and leave just before the notices. They come back in after the sermon and prayers and are asked what they learnt today before sitting down with their families once more. 5 weeks in we regularly have 30-40 children! I didn’t expect or even want to be leading Sunday School but sometimes God just drops these things on us. I would like a Mary, Anthony and Pauline, Clive, Jane and Penny to help me (to name just a few) and perhaps a couple of SWYM trainees to boot so please join with us in praying that God would build a team and that these beautiful children would come to know our Lord and Saviour as their own.

At home…

It has been a big couple of months for Patrick, he has…

Graduated from School, been confirmed in the Anglican Church, joined Pre-form One at St. John’s as a boarder (that was a big change for us at home too!) and just this week had his exam results for his end of primary school exams (11+) In which he got a B grade average across the subjects (Swahili -A, English – B, Maths – B, Science – B, General knowledge/civics – B). We are very proud of his results but also of the fine young man he is. Photos are from his primary school graduation. Please pray for him as he transitions from Primary to Secondary.

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Cool dude Zeph taking selfies first thing in the morning!

William has been very helpful recently helping Daddy to chunga mbuzi (walk the goats so they can find grass) and we have had many frogs around the place which he has just loved looking after, add to that all the time he has spent playing with out new rat catchers, we are wondering if he may pursue a veterinary career.

Karen, Festo’s niece, has been living with us since December 2017 and has recently enjoyed a visit from her Dad, Festo’s brother, it was lovely to see how blessed she was to see her Daddy, it lifted our hearts too.

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Our final prayer point is for our personal financial support through CMS. We have not yet reached our target and continue to live on a reduced budget and reduced stipend (living allowance) which means we use our reduced stipend to fund other things that would normally be available in the full budget. We know that for God this isn’t a problem and we are trusting him. We also know friends that those who can support us financially already do so therefore we ask for your prayers that God would open the door to other churches that might like to join us in our ministry here in Tanzania.

This is our page on the CMS website where more information on supporting us can be found.

It is unusual for us to write two posts so close together but this one is a little bit of a cheat…

First we want to share with you the blessing that was prayed over us by Rev Richard Preistley at Oakhill Somerset while we were in the UK earlier this year.

Blessing from Richard Preistley

We also wanted to share a thoughtful report from Julie Fagan on her time with us in Tanzania….

Kilimatinde, Tanzania – hope in one of the poorest, driest regions of Tanzania.

Phew I’d made it – Dar es Salaam, meaning haven/house of peace, and capital of Tanzania, my destination before the next part of my journey to Kilimatinde in the centre of the country.  Grace and Festo Kanungha, Church Mission Society partners and friends of Jeremy, one of my son’s, had kindly offered me accommodation so that I could see their work at St John’s Seminary and report back to my other son Jonathan.  Jonathan gives 10% of his company’s profits to charity, and had sponsored some pupils at the school.  (See Festo and Grace Kanungha and Grace’s blog to hear their story https://festoandgrace.wordpress.com )

After getting through immigration in the airport, not an easy process,  I was met by Grace who had already been to the airport once in the early hours to meet two German gap year students.  Dollars were changed into thousands of Tanzanian shillings.   We had a tasty meal at a wayside café and a night in an economy hotel before an early call next morning to catch the coach at 7 am.  All so new – vendors with fresh bananas, roasted sweetcorn, packets of peanuts, lots of tomatoes, all carefully balanced on trays and offered to all and sundry.  The ground surface was sandy with stones and rocks that might trip up the unwary.  There were wooden stalls and shacks round the edges of the coach station and lots of vehicles heading off.

August is in the long dry dusty season, with cool mornings and evenings and warm weather during the day, sunrise and sunset being around 7 am and 7 pm. 

The coach journey of 549 km/341 miles took about 11 hours, with two toilet stops, (ceramic floor loos that flushed, with hot water and soap provided for careful handwashing.  Very good for checking mobility but how would older women manage?) 

Take care not to be left behind by the coach – the conductor doesn’t check who gets on and off.  There were food stalls selling chapattis, bananas, large tomatoes, onions, drinks and snacks whilst others were cooking food such as plantains, meat, eggs and chips. Some passengers brought lunch back on to the coach. We had brought snacks to keep us going.

We travelled through scrubland, fields of sisal, sweetcorn and vegetables, ranges of hills, conservation areas, passed small shoebox shaped houses made with mud bricks, susceptible to collapse in the heavy rains, houses made from more substantial cement bricks, crowned with tin roofs, women with heavy bundles on their heads.   

It was only in the last decade that main roads were properly surfaced even though they are the main means of transport.  We passed large petrol stations, many lorries including broken down ones at the roadside too.  The coach driver weaved in and out of the traffic, so close to vehicles at times that it seemed only a whisker separated us from the vehicle in front.   There is a rail system but the trains are very slow and unpredictable; that is why the track is unfenced and people walk along it.

Finally we arrived at the bus stop in Solya and the school bus driver David collected us and our luggage and took us to our accommodation, built in the last year, thanks to peoples’ gifts.  Stephen Hatch, another CMS mission partner, (maths teacher and head of science at the school, supporting Festo and the chaplain) took over from a very weary Grace, joyfully welcomed by her sons Zephaniah and William. Festo, Grace’s husband, was busy trying to sort a new Government registration process for the school.

A welcome meal Stephen had cooked for us, awaited us. (If you look at Stephen’s link letter in May this year https://churchmissionsociety.org/resources/stephen-hatch-link-letter-no5-may-2018 you will see the dining area, school chapel which doubles as the school hall and the Rock nearby with an awesome view over the Rift Valley).  

Then Stephen introduced us to some of the quirks of the high roofed building which has mesh windows, to help keep it cool in the hot season.  The only plumber around is not very able and the materials used are poor quality so that one of the underground pipes was broken by a cow walking above it.  (The cows are not heavy sleek ones like ours by the way.)  The pipe pathways now have rocks protecting them. The water from the kitchen goes straight outside and the wash basin I was using had a tap underneath to turn on and off because the tap above didn’t close.  No hot water but there were cold water showers.

We were at the end of the water supply pumped up from the water tower in Solya village, which meant that there might not be any water at times when the students were washing or cleaning.  We had a water container fitted with a filter so that we didn’t have to use bottled water.  (It took me a couple of days to remember to use the filtered water not tap water, when cleaning my teeth.  Oops!)There is no recycling system locally so all rubbish is burnt including plastic, a huge environmental issue in many countries.   

Our beds were fitted with mosquito nets attached to frames so that they were not difficult to get under.  I never saw a mosquito and the area there on the edge of the Rift Valley was low risk at that time of the year, though students did succumb to malaria in the rainy season and because they were sometimes poor about using their nets.  Plenty had been provided by a charity. 

Students speak their tribal language, also Swahili and then learn in English.  I joined the Swahili lesson given by Grace to Joella and Sylvie the two German volunteers who had come for 10 months to help in the nursery.  What a gift they are and what a challenge, learning Swahili and having to use English too.

That evening Grace and Festo had their games night, a special treat being chocolate cake made by Grace.  We played card games and generally relaxed.  Our party included 4 English medical students from the nearby mission hospital who had just completed their 4 weeks electives training.

A smiling Mama Fatuma came each day Monday to Friday with toddler Shadiya, cooking chapatti for our lunch and beans or meat and rice for our evening meal as well as generally cleaning in the kitchen and lounge.  She has two children in school and she pays their fees with her work.  She cooked delicious beans and rice that day over a charcoal fire on the veranda, a fire hazard for young Shadiya. 

There were geckos on the walls and some insects that were rather large when they came indoors.  The ants on the other hand were tiny.  There were signs of termites about in the soil and around trees and although there were snakes in the area, we didn’t see any as they get out of the way if they feel vibrations in the ground.  There was a leopard about at night sometimes, possibly two but Grace and Festo’s dogs scare them off.  They came up from the Rift Valley Grace thought, also baboons though again, we didn’t see any.  There were quite a few birds around in the trees.

Primary education for 7 to 13 year olds is provided by the Government but the amount paid doesn’t cover all the fees, uniforms, books and supplies and families struggle to pay their contributions.  It also means that some of the children don’t go to school.  Some of the families are so poor that the children become malnourished.  The local hospital has a programme for identifying these children and providing special food for them. 

Primary education is in Swahili but changes to English at secondary level .  The other challenge is that secondary education has to be paid for.  A lot of children finish their education at primary level either because their family can’t pay the fees or because their English and general educational attainment is not advanced enough and they fail the exam. 

Over the next 6 days, I was shown round the school which now has about 250 students who are resident there.  I attended the Christian Union year 4 graduation service, some school assemblies, and watched their morning parade common to all Tanzanian schools (attention, at ease, turn right, turn left, performed with smiles).  Notices are given and punishments too.

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A view of part of the school square

The nearby bible college for adults had their special start of term service on the Sunday afternoon when most of the school pupils attended too.

Stephen invited us to his evening preparation meeting for the student volunteers who take some of the morning assemblies.  Studying the bible is a Government requirement with an examination set by the Government (the Quran for Moslem students) and the students’ bibles are well used.   (They study Genesis and Exodus in Year 1, parts of Numbers and Deuteronomy plus Joshua and Judges in Year 2, Matthew and Luke in Year 3 and the Book of Acts in Year 4.)

We met in the Physics lab for the meeting which resembled a classroom from the early part of the last century.  19 young people came along.  As an icebreaker, they named their favourite book of the bible.  To my surprise, 10 chose books from the Old Testament, including Isaiah and Ezekiel.

I attended the Anglican service at Solya with Grace and Festo where Grace helped me introduce myself and give greetings in Swahili from our churches. 

I visited the bible school nearby and spoke a little there to the students, having attended one many years earlier. It is a huge sacrifice for them (with only two women students amongst them) because of finding the fees and leaving their families for the three year course, returning home in between terms to catch up with growing their food on their pieces of land and on which their families rely.   As the numbers attending grow, so the need for a new building grows too and the Principal showed me the foundations and the bricks waiting to be built.  I think he hoped I would be able to help financially.

I visited the nursing and midwifery training school, and was shown round by the principal Mrs Laizer who has a Batchelor of Nursing degree and a Masters in nurse education.  Students have to pay for their training, the majority of whom are male.  I wrote in the visitor’s book that I had been very impressed and hoped and prayed that they would be allowed to upgrade to diploma level, a three year course that would enable the students to gain more clinical skills.  The school also runs a one year community nursing course and staff go out to the community clinics to provide antenatal care, weigh the babies and give vaccinations.

The doctor who was in charge of the small hospital next door, Dr Uggi, showed me round the wards.  He pointed to the ward where women and their families could come and stay at no cost, providing their own food, whilst the women waited to go into labour.  Distances from some of the villages are lengthy and in the rainy season, the roads become impassable from some of the villages; coming ahead of time has saved many lives. 

I saw the newly opened burns unit, necessary because of the open fires and accidents especially with children.  The Kilimatinde Trust here in the UK (see https://www.kilimatindetrust.org.uk) had provided the funds.  They are also researching provision of solar panels for cooking. 

Families care for their relatives, cooking their food, washing and feeding them and providing their bedding.  Maybe an answer for our cash strapped NHS?  It was all very sparse.

Grace took us to meet the Bishop of the diocese of the Rift Valley at Manyoni.  She fitted it in with visiting the bank, the immigration people who had made a mistake with Joella and Sylvie’s passes, and showed us the cathedral, as the Bishop was initially busy elsewhere.  He had a fairly long conversation with us, a very pleasant man – as you’d hope I suppose!  When asked about time keeping, he observed that people in the West are very punctual and very stressed.  At the other extreme, Tanzanians could become very idle and poor.  It needed a middle way he suggested. 

Grace shopped round the market stalls for fresh meat and vegetables, much more enjoyable than  supermarket shopping I thought.

In the afternoon I attended the Mothers Union meeting with Grace who translated for me, and I heard the song they were preparing for their annual conference of bible teaching for 4 days, meeting with lots of other MU groups and including a concert.  The song is about the journey of the Israelites escaping from slavery in Egypt and travelling through the wilderness, on to our own life journeys that can be hard and how God carries us through.  Their harmonies and drumming were beautiful to hear and they allowed me to video it.  They were planning what food to take on their trip as they do their own cooking and take cooking pots and bedding too.  Their families manage without them!  It is a huge affair with 1000 – 1500 people attending, sleeping on church hall floors and the like.

Grace enjoys attending the local meetings and sharing fellowship with the members and was speaking about ‘Zumm’  on the Saturday at the conference.  (Traditionally parents don’t speak much to their children so that by the age of three when they start nursery, their language development is limited.  Zumm teaches them how to interact, and its benefits.)

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Mothers Union Choir practising for upcoming concert.

On my last day, Grace asked me to gather some documents and take some photos for two grant applications to charities that provide tools (there is a vocational mechanics training course) and sewing machines (there is a vocational sewing course too).  The courses provide practical skills and ways of earning an income for students and eventually people in the village too they hope, as well as goods for the Rift Valley Crafts, another  source of income.   (There are about 10 sewing machines that need repairing so if you know of anyone who could spare a few weeks to go there and train some people in how to repair them, that would be wonderful.)

Festo also supports the microfinance initiative introduced by Tearfund, that encourages people to save small amounts and start a small business like chicken rearing.  People learn how to budget too.

That afternoon, Grace skilfully drove us and the children on a very bumpy track to the nearest dam where once a hippopotamus had lived.  Zephaniah, William and Karen enjoyed playing at the water’s edge while I watched a bird dive straight into the water and emerge triumphant with fish in beak.  Awesome.

What did I learn in this first part of my journeying?

I learnt that people worshipped God wholeheartedly, joyfully and thoughtfully.  They always started meetings with songs of worship.

 I learnt that Grace, Festo and Stephen live quite frugally and sacrificially to work there.  They all need more regular funding for CMS to be able to pay them fully but even then, their standard of living would be basic.    

That Zephaniah and William and their cousin Karen who lives with them at present, are able to wander around feely and help with the goats, pigs and hens (Festo is a farmer as well as headteacher) and attend nursery and primary school.  However they don’t have the beautiful schools and equipment that our schools have, with more relaxed teaching methods, another sacrifice. 

That God has provided funds all along the way for the building projects – people are prompted to give.  At present they need funds to build accommodation for students so that they can start teaching A levels.  Their other dream is for a primary school building for which they have the foundations.

That the team have a strong sense of calling to the work because of the love of God they have experienced personally and want to share with the children and young people. 

For their commitment to good education so that these young people may flourish and have a future, to help them and their families out of poverty. 

For their generosity with their time and care, to support volunteers and help them grow in every way, seen as a two way process. 

It was very humbling to spend time with them and I am very grateful to them, to my family who helped me so much with my preparations, for all the people who remembered me in their prayers and to God for keeping me well and safe. 

It was now time for me to return to Dar es Salaam on the 11 hour coach journey and fly to Ndola in Zambia via Addis Ababa for the last two weeks of my learning journey, this time through Tearfund.

 

Back in Tanzania

We have been back in Tanzania just over a month and in many ways it feels like much longer. We praise God because we came home to a fairly peaceful school and home. It took me about a week to get our house feeling like home; unpacking, putting back the things we had put into storage, fixing the things that had been broken in our absence (well it is not all fixed yet but we can operate in the house), I then had a week in the office to get my head around what had passed in the last four months before heading to Dar es Salaam to collect our next volunteers. But before I go on any further…

This morning I have been thinking about the Hebrews passage where we are reminded that Jesus is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3 v 1-6) And particularly verse 6 “But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”

Verses 13-14 says; “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”

Following Jesus takes courage, it takes persistence, it takes perseverance, we need to encourage each other in our faith TODAY and we need to hold on to the confidence we had when we first believed. Lets ask together:

Loving Father who can I encourage Today and Lord will you please bring one of your faithful to encourage me today too. Amen

This has also reminded me of a talk I gave at Christchurch Woodbury (May 27th) on obedience while we were in the UK which you can listen to here.

The final stop before we flew back to Tanzania was our beautiful commissioning service held at Holy Trinity St. Austell, it was a very blessed time and we felt full up on God, renewed, refreshed and restrengthened in our faith ready for all God has for us to do here at St. John’s. We were greatly encouraged too by the many friends that came from St. Austell and other supporting churches and stayed for lunch to here more about our work in Tanzania. Thank you.

This is the beautiful sunset we saw on arrival back in Tanzania. We were on our way to a little hotel with a little pool where we could rest for a couple of days before the long drive back to Kilimatinde.

 

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Just two weeks after arriving back I headed back down to Dar es Salaam to meet our next volunteers. Silvie and Joella from DMG Germany, who will minister with us for 10 months. And Julie Fagan (Jeremy’s mum!) who spent a week with us learning all about St. John’s, to feedback to her boys and hopefully encourage them to make a visit themselves! Jonathon (Julie’s son and Jeremy’s brother) though the Ten Percent Trust is one of the supporters of our sponsorship scheme.

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Julie arriving at Dar es Salaam airport

Festo has spent a lot of the last month catching up on how things are at school and on our farm. He was disappointed to discover that the young men who should have been harvesting on our farm didn’t harvest the choroko (Cowpeas), and so that crop was wasted. A shame as the harvest from the farm goes to pay their school fees. However at school things had been run well during his absence by Madam Lubarisho our deputy head and the school management team. Last week, however, we received some disappointing mock exam results for form four so he is now working hard with staff and students to bring the grades up. Oh dear and he has just walked in and told me that he has discovered than someone is stealing our pigs at least 3 in the last night 😦

I have been working with our new volunteers, inducting them into the way of life here and teaching Swahili. A lot of my time has also been spent planning some events coming up in September (which I expect the next blog will be full of). We are doing some teacher training for the primary and Nursery school and will have a trip to Bunda, Mara Diocese, where I worked in 2010/11 to visit the Nursery/Primary/Secondary Schools there to see what we can learn from them. We also have our Mothers Union Annual gathering in September where all the MU groups come together, the choirs sing and there is bible teaching. I will be speaking on Zumm. There is a lot happening so watch this space.

During the summer via facebook we gave out a challenge to our friends to go without something simple like Starbucks/Costa, icecream, or wine/beer for a week and to donate the money to our Primary School building project instead. We raise £550!! If you didn’t see the facebook post and are interested in taking part donations can be made through our Justgiving page or contact us for other options. We thank God for his might as we have raised the money for the foundations and we have been gathering the stone and sand etc that we need. Thank you to everyone who bought something from our Rift Valley Craft stall during our church visits we raised £1130, we bought an over locker for our sewing classroom (in Lidl!) for £130 and the rest is helping us with putting electrics in the sewing classroom and the primary school foundations.

We do need prayers for the registration of the Primary/Nursery School. When we left for the UK it looked as if it should all be fairly straight forward however it turns out that this is Tanzanian and the road is never without potholes and speed bumps. We need Gods favour with the government officials involved and his grace that we would face no more interference.

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Form Fours Celebrating their Christian Union Teachers at their last CU meeting before they leave the school.

The Zeph, Will, karen and I took great delight in this flower that has it’s own tail growing on a tree that is otherwise completely barren. God speaks!

An afternoon spent playing on the Rocks near our house.

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Like Father like son (above). Below is a different story…. we all love Frozen, right?

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The wedding of a dear friend and popular guy in our village. They are Muslim and got married a couple of weeks before this party in a different town. This party was for our village to celebrate with them. It was great fun.

The bowls/baths were out for our children to have a wash, already with lovely warm water in, but they were a bit slow in getting ready and some other friends beat them to it.

Last Saturday at the Pool in Dodoma, a needed break for all us of and a really lovely day. Karen had never been to the swimming pool before but she took to it something like the Ducks in the previous pictures and spent more time in the water than anyone else. William also enjoyed the water more than he normally does. Woohoo!

So dear friends we ask you to pray for us, for the registration of the primary school and the building works. For the needed dormitories for the secondary schools and improved results by the time the form fours sit their exams. For all the opportunities over the next month to share the gospel of Christ and see people grow in their faith in him. We also ask you to continue to pray for us. We have now raised 81% of our budget with CMS, God is slowly bringing it in for us but we need to reach that 100% mark. If you want more info about how to give or how to get our link letters from CMS please find it here.

And finally! After all our worrying and because of your many prayers, please join us in praising God as Zephaniah and William have gone back to school here in Tanzania happily and are enjoying it!!!!! Wow God is Great!

Half way through

We have been in the UK for more than 2 of 4 months and we have completed 6 weeks of our 12 week Mission Partner Pathway training. We have also completed 6 of 16 church visits/speaking engagements, we have officially passed the half way marker.

Yes we know the maths doesn’t quite work for the church visits but between Sunday the 10th of June and the 17th of June another 4 of those will be crossed off the list! We will also visit at least 4 schools in the next week.

What does all this mean????

We have been having a great time! The boys are enjoying their UK schools and are coping very well with travel around and about. We are loving seeing so many of you as we visit churches. We are feeling very loved and encouraged by all your interest and support. The only sad thing is that we are spread so thinly and only get to see most people once and some not at all.

The Mission Partner Training is fantastic. Stretching, Challenging, Interesting! Before we started some of our friends and supporters asked us why CMS were giving us this training. After all we have been working In Mission for the past 6 years in Tanzania – surely we could teach the sessions ourselves. Well Thank you for your confidence in us. Still we have learn’t a lot! Some of it very specific to CMS, some of it we wish we had known 6 years ago (issues around security and safeguarding etc) and some things we are re-visiting such as matters around culture. In fact the cultural stuff is great to be thinking and learning about because we already have a known context to apply it to. Much of the course involves a degree of theological reflection which we are both enjoying having the time and space to do.

We are also having fun! Especially with the Comms team who have been teaching us crucial things about how to stay in touch with YOU. Writing skills (!), how to take a better photo, how to make a video. All interesting and useful, the practical session’s also being a lot of fun.

We have got some homework to do as well and one is a project. We are researching provision in Tanzania for children/young people with Special Educational Needs such as Dyslexia.

While we have been on training we have been living in the CMS Community house alongside the 5 others on the mission partner pathway, the wardens and their son and some other CMS Mission Partners who have been coming and going. It has most certainly been an adventure all living together, cooking together and sharing chores. We have become like a family and we are pleased that God knew what he was doing and put us together in this house with these beautiful people. As one member of our new family often says…”It could have been a lot different!”

And so we have reached the half way marker. CMS are ready to sign us off as their employees, sekonded to the Diocese of the Rift Valley. They say we are ready, the only matters pending are our financial support – we are currently at 65% of the overall needed budget and the results from our medical check ups taking place on June 18th.

This is good news. We are set to go back to Tanzania on July 17th. If we haven’t reached our financial target by then we shall go back on a reduced budget. Either by putting some of the things in the budget on hold like pension plans or by taking a reduction in our stipend (monthly allowance). These things don’t stress us out because our God’s warehouses are full and he owns the cattle on a thousand hills but we would appreciate your prayers in this.

We now have a  page on the CMS website take a look and see our profile latest link letter and hopefully a video of Festo and I talking about our call to action in Tanzania.

On July 15th we will have a Commissioning Service at 10:30 am at Holy Trinity St. Austell followed by a bring and share lunch. All are welcome to join with us on our last Sunday before returning back to Tanzania.

Photos coming after the prayer points 😉

Please pray for us….

  • For continued strengthening as we travel, preach and spend time with our supporting churches. Especially for Zeph and William.
  • As we finish our coursework and present our findings to the CMS staff team.
  • For our financial need.
  • For School, family and farm back home, missing us and us missing them.

Our family while we are on training.

 

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Whilst doing Myers Briggs led by the fabulous Thalia, we were given a play-dough challenge to build a children’s park which was quickly scuppered by our leader, just as we were working well as a team, as she requested a parrot instead – all to test how our personalities react in these situations 🙂

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Two of the comms team on the day when we were taught how to take a photograph. I was practising the rule of thirds.

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This is my favourite from that photography session, it is of Paul Thaxter, Director of International Mission at CMS.

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Bubble machine on Williams Birthday – He is now 3!

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Festo and I speaking at the Africa Conference in Southampton.

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Fun times over half term

 

 

About to start CMS Mission Partner Training

We are here in Oxford! We have spent the weekend settling into house 244 (CMS community house) and tomorrow we embark on new school (Z) new Nursery (W) and new training (F&G). We would really appreciate your prayers. Our hope is that this will be a time of blessing, joy, rest, learning, growth etc In any order!

We have been in the UK now just under a month and we have certainly made the most of our time so far. Zeph and William are coping really well however that doesn’t mean we haven’t had the odd wobble as they have adjusted to; temperature, culture and many catch ups with friends. Please continue to pray for them.

We arrived in the UK to a blanket of snow which was just perfect and a snowman in my parents back garden (thank you Paul Rowe) which gave Zeph and William great delight. We soon sailed across to the Isle of Scilly with Graces parents for a week on the island of Bryher. It was bliss exploring the island and joining in island life. We walked, played on the beach, rested and explored, of course it was all over to soon.

Since then? Well we have been having a fair go and catching up with family and friends in Cornwall and we have seen many of you.

As pictures speak louder than words here are a few….

Figuring out a maze on Bryher

 

A lovely day out on Tresco

 

At the Man engine show, Royal Cornwall Showground. Festo speaking with a real Cornish man and struggling to understand a word, me handsome.

 

Excellent visit to the cinema with Claire, Rhiannon and Sofia. Festo and Grace also got to see the Greatest Showman (yes CD has been bought and is now the soundtrack for our long car journeys around the UK).

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Visits to the Library and Park with the BIG slide.

 

Catching up with friends…

 

Life is going to be pretty full on from now until we finish our training with a link church visit booked in for every Sunday from the 29th of April until the 15th of July. We ask for your prayers for safe travel and God appointed conversations. We pray too that he would fill us and fill us and fill us again with his Holy Spirit that we might be his vessels as we speak in the different churches.

We have a commissioning service on July 15th at Holy Trinity St. Austell followed by a bring and share lunch. All are welcome and we would love to see you there.

Packing, packing, packing.

With 4 days (3 if you don’t count today eek!) until we leave Kilimatinde and 6 until we fly back to the UK things have become a bit hectic in the Kanungha household. Not to mention that it is Zephaniah’s 5th Birthday tomorrow! So this is a quick blog to ask for your prayers for our travel and for our time in the UK.

When we first arrive we will have a time of rest and a little holiday with Grace’s parents and many “catch up’s” with our Cornish friends. Our training with CMS starts on April 16th and we will move up to Oxford a few days before. CMS has a community house which we will stay in along with the others on our training. Zephaniah will be attend a school and William a Nursery school in Oxford for the 12 weeks we will be on training.

We will also have a fair (read a lot) amount of travel to do around the country visiting our link churches old and new. We are very much looking forward to seeing you all again and sharing our news but also hearing your news and finding out ways we can pray for you.

We have reached 60% of our budget now. It feels great to have broken the 50% line! We still need some more supporting (link) churches and some more individuals who can support us financially and in prayer. Do keep this on your prayer lists.

And so as we will soon be together face to face we leave the below list to inspire your prayers.

Please pray for:

  • Our travel – especially for the boys between 11pm and 3am in Dubai airport Sunday night!
  • Our packing up not just what we should take with us but more importantly how to hand everything over here to those who will care for the school, our home, animals, farm etc while we are absent.
  • The change of culture and climate. Culture shock is real and still affects us every time we switch culture.
  • Our health and energy levels.
  • Our school and all the ministries we are involved in here while we are away.

Looking forward to seeing (many of) YOU!IMG-20171124-WA0000

 

 

New Year 2018

This blog is a month and a half over due and the reason it is late is fantastic…. we have been too busy registering new Children at St. John’s Nursery and Primary School! Praise God for the new School bus. We are now reaching Children in three villages outside of Kilimatinde and Solya.

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We have also had good news from the national exams sat at the end of last year both Form 2 and Form 4 results are excellent. Jonas, one of our sponsored students came first in his form 2 in the school and the district obtaining a high division one. Praise God for the good results and for the hard work of the staff and Students involved.

Kelvin has now joined form one at St. John’s. Going to boarding school is hard even if  (or especially if) your Dad is the head master. Here he is the evening he ‘arrived’ getting his things packed up ready to go and Festo is tackling the age old task, that all parents face, of labelling and marking their children’s clothes and belongings.

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In January we managed to get the volunteers house up and running – or at least in a position where the volunteers could move in! Still much work to be done on it but it is so fab for them to have their own place and for us to have slightly less people in our home (although we miss them too). Current volunteers are; Stephen Hatch UK, Damaris Gerbhardt and Hanna Proll DMG Germany, and Sarah Anderson Episcopal church USA.

Thanks to the kindness of supporters we have also been able to buy textbooks for the Nursery and Primary school and sponsor more children this academic year. We thank God for you.

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Another thing to praise God for is the rain. We have had so much! Our house has flooded but we were joyful as we bailed out because we know the blessing of rain. The maize stalks are now taller than Grace (5ft) the peanuts almost ready to be harvested and the Sunflowers are beautiful. There is such a lovely positive atmosphere around the area as everyone knows that this year they will harvest enough to eat and some to sell.

 

(The little girl playing in the water with our boys is Karen, Festos brothers daughter who in the Tanzanian way has come to live with us for….sometime!)

Jill Barrett from the Kilimatinde Trust whom we partner with was visiting recently getting ready to open the burns unit in Kilimatinde Hospital (due to open in August 2018) and did some vital burns first aid training with our secondary students and teachers…

 

At Christmas we held our first ever Nativity Service in Solya Church it was fab!

Here are a bunch of family photos from Christmas. It was a mixed bag with two deaths in Festos family resulting in him being away from us over Christmas which was hard but we made the best of it.

 

In December we celebrated the wedding of the daughter of one of our Mothers Union Ladies and Zumm supporters. It has inspired us to consider doing a small business with wedding dresses. We would have a number of dresses in various styles/sizes available to rent. The idea came because the one they rented for this bride was filthy when they received it and not the joy that it should have been. Watch this space for more…

 

What next…

Well in just over 4 weeks time the Kanungha family will be heading to the UK for four months to do our mission partner training and visit new and some existing supporting churches. We have currently raised 41% of the funding we need for the next 3 years. Please join us in praying that the God whose storehouses never run dry would provide what we need and would speak to willing hearts to partner with us in mission by supporting us financially. Individual supporters click here for more info. Interested churches please contact julie.hinkley@churchmissionsociety.org.

Want to support us in a different way? CMS are holding a sponsored walk on May 12th in the South downs. Does anyone fancy walking on our behalf and raising sponsorship for us? Here are the details Sponsored Walk we would do it ourselves but we have been invite to be involved in the CMS Africa conference in Southampton that weekend.

Zephaniah and William have joined Daddy on the farm a couple of times recently and have really enjoyed it.

 

 

And finally Sarah did such a great valentines activity with Nursery 2 this week we just have to show it off.

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Please pray:

  • As we continue to seek God for the financial support we need as Missionaries.
  • As we get ready for our time in the UK; Practically, emotionally and Spiritually. Especially for Zeph and William as they make the tranistion of culture, lifestyle and school.
  • That we would keep our eyes fixed on our Saviour Jesus Christ and trust that he is ABLE when we know we are not.
  • As we work on the school registration for the Nursery and Primary school that the barriers currently in place God would find a way past and through.
  • For the staff of the secondary school as they adjust to some employment changes brought in by the Diocese.