A new chapter has started with the beginning of 2014. We returned from the UK happy that we had managed to see so many of our friends/supporters yet sad that we were unable to spend time with more. We realised anew just how fast the pace of life changes as we realised how much we had changed, and how more 'african' our outlook on life has become. Our priorities our changing too. God is teaching us what is really important in our lives; our relationship with Him first. We have seen many people come and go during our 3 years in Tanzania, the missionary life can often seem as a time when all you do is say 'Goodbye', but this too has been a blessing as it teaches us to rely more on God than people.
One particular event right at the beginning of this month (January), was a time we had to learn to say 'goodbye' to a very special lady in our lives.
Mama Mawazo succumbed to HIV/AIDS like so many people here in Africa. Her life started in a Muslim village just outside the beautiful mountainous countryside of Morogoro. About 10yrs ago she moved with her husband to Dar es Salaam for a better life and education for her growing family.
Mama Mawazo began work for a HOPAC family (Haven of Peace Academy), which was her first encounter with Christians who regularly prayed and read the bible together. Over time she learnt of a Saviour who loved her and gave His life for her so she could have life to the full and surety of eternal life.
Mama Mawazo and her entire family accepted Christ as their Saviour and were baptized at the Nuru Centre Church where they continued to worship. Her husband later died leaving her to bring up her 4 children on her own. Her new faith sustained her and she never stopped smiling and praising God.
Her 2 boys, now in their early twenties, are currently at college; Mawazo training for Hotel Management in the Tourist Industry and Msaphiri hoping to be an Engineer. Her daughter Pili (16yrs), is still at Secondary school studying for her GCSE's. She lost sight in one eye last year, (due to poor diet and quite common to many here in Tanzania), but is determined to get an education - her mother's heartfelt dream for her daughters so they can have more of a chance in life than she did. Gladness (9yrs) is still at Primary school.
The children are still in Dar, at their home, but very much have to fend for themselves. They rely on extended family and friends for food, rent and school fees, but at least they have not been ordered back to the village - a plight for most daughters particularly when parents die. Theirs is now an even harder life, each day a struggle to survive through to the next.
Mama Mawazo's funeral service was one of celebration for her life. The Church was packed with many having to stand. It was incredible to see how many lives she had touched. Her love for children and desire to to share Jesus with everyone, led her to work with the children in the local area teaching 'Sunday School' to a group on a Friday afternoon many of whom have accepted Christ as their personal Saviour.
Mama Mawazo was a wonderful example of Christ to all she met. Her joy that she had found in Jesus spilled over to all.
Thank you Mama Mawazo for all your friendship and joy as you showed us Jesus in your life each day.