No Mincemeat no Christmas!

Phew, we have finished the exams for 2017! Form 2 nationals, form four nationals, pre form one and entry exams, forms one and three internal annual exams, Primary and Nursery Annual exams, VETA vocational exams; mechanics and tailoring! I think it is time for a holiday. We closed the school on Friday 1st of December and will re open on January 8th.

In the meantime we will be travelling around the nearby villages advertising our school bus and registering new students to join the Nursery and Primary school in January.

Nursery Graduation

Our Nursery school graduation was a wonderful affair. 9 little ones graduated and thanks to our sponsorship scheme most of them will stay on with us for Primary school. It was a wonderful time of celebration for the school.

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Teacher training

Two days of teacher training followed the close of school. Led by Mary Higbee (short term missionary from California USA). It was a very positive time of thinking about learning styles and teaching methods. The requirements of the curriculum and how to fulfil them and a good look through our resources and thinking about which would work best for which parts of the curriculum. I believe it was a big step forward for the school in improving the education we provide.

We have since said farewell to Mary and Jim and Simon, three fabulous volunteers who will be missed greatly. Pictures taken at their farewell party.

Prayers please:

• Our next big step is registration of the Nursery and Primary school. This has been in process for a long time but it looks like we are now making some progress. There are many hoops to jump through and obstacles to negotiate but we believe by the grace of God was will get it done. We are also registering to be able to provide A levels. We really need Gods hand of favour to be upon us.
• Our personal financial support. We are only able to be here because of those who give tirelessly to support us. Churches and individuals can sign up to support us through CMS. We need to have raised 75% of our budget by April 2018 so that we can do our CMS training.
• For the farm and for Festo as he manages the young men working with us on it. We thank God that last year we had a good harvest and it enabled us to continue to support students from St. John’s who are now doing A levels and Degrees, but we ask again that he would give us another good harvest so that we can keep going.
• For good family time over Christmas.

Christmas in Tanzania – a reflection

No Mincemeat, No Christmas!

I took, Zeph, William and Patrick to Dodoma on Saturday for a day of fun by the pool (we had not been since mid August). It has been very hot here with a strong sun but the day we chose to go was cool and overcast with a threat of rain. Undeterred we set off on the two hour drive trusting that the sun would break through and burn up the cloud. I can not go to Dodoma without a shopping list (it is our nearest big town) and I particularly wanted to use the post office and buy cheese and mincemeat. The post office in Manyoni charges between 200 and 400 shillings more than normal, per letter depending on what stamps they have available and as I had 50 cards and 4 small packets to send I wanted to get the better price available in Dodoma – they have a better store of stamps. We have been without cheese for a couple of weeks now and are starting to miss it; lunches are certainly lacking some variety. Mincemeat we have been able to get in Dodoma the last few years, we go without a lot of the traditional British Christmas here but somehow being able to at least have a mince pie makes it ok.

The sun broke through finally at 4pm! The post office and the shops were closed due to it being a national holiday (public holiday) which had escaped my notice and Festo had forgotten. 09/12 Uhuru day or Independence Day. The city was alive with people celebrating freedom from…. well the British to be frank (not awkward at all!) Even the president was in town.

But we did have a good day. The boys swam despite the cold water and loved it. We had pizza for tea which is a real treat and I managed to get a couple of Christmas presents. Still I was disappointed to miss out on the mincemeat.

Of course Christmas is still Christmas without a mince pie! The situation has made me reflect on how we ‘do’ Christmas. I was reading a missionary blog about a Christmas in Pakistan where the Mum of the family was struggling with her children missing out on the American Christmases that she grew up with. Sometimes I can feel that sadness for my boys too. Right now there is nothing outside of our home to indicate that Christmas is 13 days away. It is hot and wet and people are working hard on their farms to grow enough food to get them through the next year. For them what marks a good Christmas is the amount of rainfall and how much seed they have planted. New Year is a celebration of hope that when the harvest comes the yield will be high enough to give them food and a bit extra to sell to get the cash to fulfil other needs.

Inside our home we are juggling two Christmas traditions. Festo is gathering seed for planting and I and the boys are opening the advent calendar each day and wondering when to put the tree up.

Our Stockings advent calendar… Thanks to Johanna Gerber for leaving it behind for us.

Stockings

What is it all about anyway?

When the Messiah came those who had been expecting his arrival had either gotten tired of waiting for him or were looking in the wrong places. They wanted a mighty warrior yet they got a humble babe. Jesus came for the ordinary, the broken, the sad, the just managing, the hopeful and the faithful. He was born in a stable with no fanfare other than the angel song and the cheers from Heaven. His first visitors were a motley crew of shepherds and during his days on earth his was far more interested in the normal and ordinary folk than the powerful and exalted of the day. If he were walking the earth to day he would be visiting the slums and the housing estates, he would be on the farm of the subsistence farmer, in the hospices and on the streets with the homeless, in the prisons and with the widows and orphans.

And that is where he is today if we go to those places and be with those people. If invited Jesus might come in and have a mince pie with me but he would rather I go with him to those who need him.

We Christians are an Army of Ordinary people (something God has been speaking to be about a lot recently), we may think we have nothing to offer this Christmas but we do, we have the love of Jesus Christ in us ready to be out poured. It doesn’t matter if the roast isn’t perfect of the shopping/wrapping/posting doesn’t get finished or done in time. What matters this Christmas time is that Jesus came. Jesus is here in us and he wants to continue to pour out his love (through us) for those he came to save.

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