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