We didn't return home to the UK this summer as we took the opportunity
to go to language school in Iringa to learn Swahili. We felt lack of understanding
of Swahili has been key to a lot of the issues we have faced over the last two years
and felt we needed to address this. Thankfully MAF UK also agreed this was important
for us to achieve and have enabled us to participate in a language programme.
Iringa is a beautiful part of Tanzania, although incredibly cold in the mornings and at night at this time of year, with the temperature getting as low as just 5 degs C!!
We have had to buy jumpers and jeans off the second hand market - a good place to practice Swahili!
We have been able to have a lot more freedom in Iringa, taking hikes and walks through the countryside without the usual concerns of heat or for safety we have in Dar.
Its been great to be able to walk instead of having to drive everywhere. The children have loved climbing the rocks and spotting gheko's but we have not seen any snakes yet - although there are plenty around!
For language the children have their own teacher, Catherine. On Friday she celebrated her 20th birthday. After class the boys and Robyn wanted to make Catherine a card - 2 1/2hrs later they had finished a really clever pop up card so we set out to deliver it to her (she lives with her aunt in a nearby village).
We followed Jack on a 'short cut' which took us the long way through the whole village where we had to stop and greet everyone before we finally arrived at Catherine's house.
She was out collecting water when we arrived but her aunt invited us in to wait for her. The house was a typical mud and stick built house with a 'thatched' roof. Inside were a couple of wooden 'sofas' and a small wooden coffee table. A piece of material separated the living room from the bedroom. The cooking was done outside as is traditional on a small charcoal/stick fire. Luckily there was a well near the village so we didn't have to wait too long and Catherine was soon back with her water bucket carried on her head.
She told us that sometimes they had to go down to the river by the camp to collect water if the well was dry. Obviously the well water is much better as it is cleaner for drinking and closer when you have to carry it back in buckets on your head! Catherine is an orphan, her mother died when she was 7yrs and she never knew her father. We saw another side to her life when we visited her on her birthday. As a teacher she is dressed much as any young western girl in jeans, t-shirt and jacket but in the village her life changes to that of doing the daily chores, collecting water on her head, working in thefamily fields, wearing the traditional kanga, cooking the family meal of ugali and cleaning the house. It is a strange mix of living in a 'western' environment whilst teaching Swahili, then back to a very traditional lifestyle of village Tanzania.
Whilst we were there the Kuku's (chickens) came in to roost (it was around 6pm).
Catherine's aunt saw me looking at them and thought I felt uncomfortable with them in the house beside where I sat. Through Catherine I was able to explain it was quite the opposite. I explained that we too had Robyn's 2 chickens living in the house (albeit in a box), and I had about 26 living outside!
I had found a way in to put everyone at ease as we discussed chickens!!
I have found a new passion for chickens, the rich diversity of type and colour etc although for our western ways they can be hard work. The Tanzanian way is so much easier and freer and the chickens seem to like it too!
Please Pray for Catherine and Joyce who have been teaching the children and for Ishmael (our language teacher) and his wife, Moshi. Ishmael is a Muslim but came originally to Iringa (from Bagamoyo) through the Baptist Church. His wife was Christian but as is the custom here you take on the religion of your husband when you marry.
I had a great opportunity to talk with him a number of times and was able to explain the difference in the Muslim view of God as opposed to the Christian view - I knew all that RE teaching of Islam would come in useful one day!!
I am grateful that God was able to use me to reach out and plant a seed that His Holy Spirit will continue to water. Please pray for Ishmael as he continues to search for the Truth that he continues to study the Bible to find out who Isa (Jesus) really is.
Pray also that Jack, Harry and Robyn begin to feel confident with using Swahili and feel less inhibited to use it.
Pray also that we start to gain some confidence and move forward in our language studies.
Whilst we were at the language school we had our camera stolen from our banda, unfortunately that and some of Robyn's toys that were also taken, were never recovered. Please pray that whoever took them is blessed by the income they generated and that we too can let go of these material things (unfortunately the camera had most of our photo's of Iringa on it so there aren't too many for this blog.).
There has been so much to thank God for, new friends, continued good health, seeing Him work in our lives everyday as we walk alongside Him. He has opened our eyes and hearts to see those around us and their circumstances in a new way - I would like to say how He sees them, not as people to be pitied or feel sorry for but as His creation with so much to offer but in so much need of Him. We have been given this unique opportunity to be God's hands and feet to love and serve His creation.
We head home for a week - to get a months worth of washing done (my hand washing doesn't get the red dirt out of white socks!!) , after which we set sail for the island of Zanzibar to further our Swahili studies in the birthplace of Kiswahili!!.