Monday, July 23, 2012

Address change for donations, and warning about sending packages

Dear wonderful friends and supporters.
I had an email from a friend that said that a check sent to the West Plains Church came back with a change of address notice.  I contacted the church.  The church is meeting in their new location, BUT they are UNABLE to receive mail there yet.  Even though they have not requested the change of address, the post office did some changing of their own. 
I have been asked to spread the word that funds can still be sent, still made out to the church, but send them to this address.  They will get processed quicker this way (and the only way right now!)
Thank you so much for understanding.  I have also updated the donation page with this information.
Donna Bridges
517 C.R. 8500
West Plains, Mo. 65775

On another note, some people have mentioned the possibility to sending a care package to us here in Tanzania Africa.  We have been highly advised against encouraging that because of several reasons.  This is from the experience of some of the other families that have lived here for many years.
  1. Sometimes the package simply will "disappear."
  2. Sometimes some of the contents "disappear."
  3. Most of the time (almost always) the package will be opened up in Dar es Salaam, inspected and the postal service will decide that the RECEIVER will have to pay duty based on whatever they say.  The payment must be made before you know what is in the package or even who it is from.  One family had to pay over $100 US for a package and the contents were not even of that value.  It should not have been taxed.  When they disputed the issue at the local tax office, they said - we made a mistake - BUT THEY WOULD NOT REFUND THE MONEY.
So based on these two issues, we have decided it is best if we can try to live within our situation best as possible.  THANK YOU for everyone that wanted to send something.  It is so kind of you! 

Thank you for the continued prayers and support.  God is doing some wonderful things here!  We have been really busy, so posting hasn't been the priority.  I will try to get caught up again next week.  Doug and I are BOTH teaching every day this week along with some other activities! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Classes, trips, bugs

Blankets for sale down an "alley way" shopping area in Iringa
 A couple of weeks ago, one of the families here needed to go to Iringa for a few different reasons, one being to get clothes for the young man that will be going to Europe to continue his education.  I was glad I could go along and learn a few new places.  We visited several locations where people get clothes, blankets and other things.  It appears that much donated clothes comes in bales, and then it is sold rather cheaply to local sellers who then sell it to whomever.  So we see ALL kinds of clothes from the US, Canada and I don't know where else.  Some of the shops are down back alleys and if you don't know where they are, you won't find them.  I was hoping that it was a safe place to be.  I was with two other people, and I kept a very close hold on my bag.  Here are a few pictures. 
Shirts for sale in Iringa in a back market area
 Many of the "shops" are make-shift structures with various poles, sometimes tin roof and sometimes plastic or tarps.  I wasn't shopping so I don't know the prices.  I was just learning my way around.

More of the back market area for clothes.
In various places throughout Iringa and throughout Tanzania, it seems that there is almost always chickens around.  While we were in the clothes area, I could hear chickens somewhere close even though I didn't always locate them.  Even right beside the MAIN road that goes through Iringa, there were loose adult and baby chickens.  Iringa is quite hilly and the road is a bit built up on the one side.  The picture is of the down-hill side with the little white baby chicken on the left.

Downtown Iringa - see the baby white chicken on the left.
I was thinking as I was walking around Iringa with the others about some of things that are so different here.  This is now life for me, and I think I am getting use to it quickly.  But there are some things that I don't know if I will ever get "used to."  One of those is the little "coffin shops."  They are very common here on the streets.  The thing that bothers me most is that most of the coffins are small.   That means that they are for children.  This isn't something that I think people are suppose to "get used to."  I could be wrong.

I was able to find a few things that I had not previously found like some lentils.  I did find three grapefruit also.  That is all that the man had and they were are hard as rocks!  They had dehydrated some and not rotted, so I knew they should be good.  They were TOUGH to open, but they were good!  Someone suggested I try some tamarind and also some buyu.  It was cheap so I bought a bag of each.  They must be an acquired taste.  We gave them to our helper.  She was thrilled.

The new training session for the lay-evangelism school started on the 3rd of this month.  Doug taught the first two days, and then I taught from the 5th through yesterday (Friday.)  We have 19 students ranging from upper teens to probably 60's.  There are also 3 more students coming.  They have been a great group.  They are asking lots of questions and many are really enjoying the classes.  I have been very blessed to be part of the program.  I so love to work with the people.  So many are so receptive to the materials.  It is a real challenge to get my morning duties done, breakfast and ride down to be in time for the first class.  Doug is now scheduled for the next two weeks.  I have one week off, then I will be doing substitute teaching again at the primary school for one week.

The solar batteries did arrive, but of the 8 (4 for us and 4 for another missionary) 6 were the right kind and two were a different kind.  They looked alike and this was just realized a couple of days ago.  We are hoping that we can get them exchanged.  Please pray that we can.  They will have to be taken back to Dar es Salaam and the correct ones will have to be imported.  This could be tricky (and expensive.)

Doug installed my wood cook stove!  This has improved the level of smoke in the house greatly!  I am so thankful.  We are still getting used to it.  I hope to try baking in it soon.  Since I don't have to teach this week, maybe I can try a few new things.  We will see how the week works out.

The other night, I was getting ready to go to bed, and this very little "fly" was on the cushion.  He was probably about 1/4" long.  He was so pretty. It was bedtime, but I really wanted a picture of him.  I took several.  Here is the best one.  God even made bugs pretty!  Oh, how I long for heaven.  After I took his picture, I put him outside.  I hope he was a "good bug."  Since I didn't know, I set him free.  He was blue and green, iridescent. 

Joshua and I did come down with some congestion.  Mine really hit me during the day Friday.  I think Doug might be coming down with it a bit also now.  I don't remember the last time Joshua DIDN'T have a runny nose.  I hope we can get our immune systems up and get some antibodies created in our systems for all these local "bugs."

Doug and I have also had several "patients" come by.  We had another lady that  came by needing reading glasses.  She told us that her eyes had gotten so bad that she was no longer able to read her Bible.  After getting her a pair for her needs, she was so excited to able to read again.  It is moments like this that make it worth it all.  I worked on a young mother this week who had some very tight muscles in her neck and should area.  She had been hurting for two weeks.  Most likely it was caused by carrying heavy loads on her head and being a bit off balance.  We worked on her for about an hour.  Her muscles relaxed a bunch.  She was smiling really big when we finished, and moving her head around checking out the results.  When they asked how much they owned us, we told them nothing.  Oh, they were so thankful.  These people make so little, how can I ask them to pay us?  I am just thankful that God blessed and she felt better.  We also taught her how to use hot and cold water applications if it was still hurting or started to feel worse.

We also had a little girl who we worked with for about 3 days.  She has some serious issues going on with her muscles and then there is another young man that we are trying to help.  He is still coming.  He seems to be improving.  We will see how far we can help him progress.   Doug also worked on two of the students that were having neck and shoulder issues.

Doug worked on welding up some more solar lights for the staff houses, but his weeks have been getting congested and he was not able to install them as he had hoped.  He has also been fixing more water leaks.  Doug continues to help a little with the plane as Fletcher requests it also.

I am now up to 6 piano students.  The youngest is 6 years old, and the oldest is 46 (Doug!)

Charlie the cat has been coming by every few days.  We hadn't heard a rat on the roof for a while.  I just mentioned that to Doug last night.  And JUST NOW as I am typing this, we hear something on the roof again.  We need the cat to come more often.

God is doing wonderful things.  I have a special prayer request for two of the oldest students.  They have diabetes and high blood pressure.  They are very encouraged to learn that through lifestyle they can reverse both.  Please join us in prayer that they will stick with the program and regain their health so they can server our Lord for many more years.

Do we have many more years????

From what I am hearing all over the world, from everything that I have seen myself, from what I have read in the Bible, our Lord's return is even at the door.  There are ONLY a very few things left to happen according to the prophecies in the Bible.  And the stage is set for those to happen as soon as God stops holding back the four angels and winds of strife.  We are praying that He will hold back the winds of strife a little longer that we will have our hearts right and that we will finish the work that all that want, can come to know Jesus and live with Him forever.  Time is short and we are trying to keep our priorities straight.

We appreciate all the prayers, support and encouragement.  THANK YOU! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Front Lines Mission Story on the new blog.

Here is our first FRONT LINES story on the blog "A Man from Heaven Heals People!" 

I just posted it.  There is also a link to some other stories in the post that is previous to this one (on that site.) 

Please consider following that blog also!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

May and June

Ever since the container has arrived, we have had more to do that I can wrap my mind around. The boxes need to be unpacked and sorted.  Locations for items must be determined, things fixed, inventoried, and so much more.

In May I was asked to teach English to the second year students in the two-year agriculture school program for the last several weeks of class. I really enjoyed the students. Teaching just a few weeks after another teacher was a bit challenging, but I enjoyed it.

The students are at varying levels of aptitude and skills, also. One day after teaching, I went with the head gardener for the lay evangelism school garden and took some pictures of the crops they are growing from the seeds that were donated by Baker Creek. Many of the new crops are doing very well. The agriculture school and many of the missionaries here were very happy to see some new varieties to try. The carrots did very well. The new types of lettuce and cabbage seem to be doing great, along with beets and some herbs.
Crops grown from the Baker Creek Seeds
Head Gardener with Donated Seeds from Baker Creek

Second Year Ag students in the garden with seed packets
The new window frames for the center have been made. We need to pound the bars into them and paint them to get the ready for installation and glass. We haven't made the time to do that part of the project yet. Hopefully we will make it a priority because we start teaching soon and we will be using the center for several of the classes (hydrotherapy, massage and natural remedies.)

 The new tractor that came in our container has been getting LOTS of use since it arrived. Doug has used it several times for cutting grass on the runway, around the airplane hanger, at the primary school and at the center. The limiting factor had been fuel. When we got more fuel, then another person here needed it for hauling some trailer loads, and we have used it again since they took it. It has been a big asset already and we hope that we can get lots of good work out of it.

After sorting through several boxes we were able to find the recovery disks for my laptop that crashed when we arrived here in Africa. Using that software and the new hard drive that was purchased in Dar es Salaam, I have my laptop up and running. Downloading various programs was a time consuming challenge. I am thankful that we were able to get it going again. The old netbook isn't starting up or closing down correctly the majority of the time. It also has the "blue screen of death" way too often! I praise the Lord that it lasted until we got this one up and the files transferred.

Doug worked diligently to install the solar equipment that arrived in the container. It is wonderful to have a good supply of electricity and to be able to use some household tools to make things run more smoothly.  Now we can concentrate on more important issues other than just making it by. I am so grateful that the missionaries here at Kibidula gave us suggestions of what to bring with us.  I am glad that we were able to use money from the sale of our house and property to get many of those things. The solar freezer and washing machine have been huge assets. We can get laundry done so much more quickly now and the clothes are already slowing less wear and tear. The freezer is allowing us to buy more than just what we would eat immediately. I am able to freeze grains to kill the bugs and eggs. That is working very well. It is a huge blessing.

As soon as some of the locals found out that I have an electric piano I started getting requests to teach piano. My first student (outside of my husband and son) is a local Tanzanian boy. Needless to say, there is NO money in teaching here, but it is a blessing to help them develop a skill that can be used to be a blessing to God's service. After the first week or two, I got two more students. I may have one more starting soon. Including Joshua I currently have four students.

We have had some phone challenges lately. My phone stopped receiving signal almost completely. I took it to a repair person who charged me 1/4 the price of the phone and then gave it back to me in the same working condition that I gave it to him. He said it was fixed, though. It wasn't. One of the short term missionaries lost his phone, so Doug sold him his old one very cheap (10,000 TSH.) He then bought a new one from another missionary here on campus that had a spare (40,000 TSH.) Within a week, while he was cutting down trees, it fell out of his pocket into a puddle (down by the springs.) We didn't find it for 24 hours and by that time, it had stopped functioning. We dried it out, but to no avail. So we have now purchased THREE phones in the last few weeks! Each one cost 40,000 TSH. We hope that we don't have continued issues with them. My old one that doesn't get phone signal (unless you are REALLY close to a tower) still has many functions that are usable such as converter, alarm and such. So we are able to use it but not as a phone.

June 18th, Doug was able to acquire WHOLE BROWN RICE at the local market from the rice mill. It took taking a local Tanzanian and some explaining and demonstrating to what we wanted, but we now can get good healthy rice for the same price as white rice and at our local market (only about 40 minutes away.) We praise God for this blessing. It is truly wonderful. Previously we had to get it from Dar es Salaam for about 3 times the cost of white rice!

Doug was also able to purchase rice bran very cheaply (which is good for adding to our Dog's food and great for the garden.) We can also get free rice hulls. We have been researching the best way to use them for the garden. It looks like we will use them as mulch, some for the soil, and make a bunch into Carbonized Rice Hulls (charcoal.) It is suppose to be one of the very best garden amendments according to some websites. the process of making it sounds pretty smoky though!

Doug made another trip to Dar safely. He brought me home some cashews and some rolled oats. He sure does love me! I can get oats here at the market but he was able to get them about 1/2 price. They are imported and a little over $3 US per pound.

In addition to these things I started a new website (blog) devoted to the Lay Evangelist program. The site is: They are our front-line workers. They go into the areas that have no church and work with the people.  They give Bible studies and show them the way to Jesus our Lord. They are sponsored through Kibidula. They have very challenging lives and we currently are not fully supported on the funds for them. My hope is that I can use the new website to inform those who are interested in the challenges, blessings, needs and successes of these front line workers. I hope many will join with us in praying for them and also supporting them financially. This is (in my opinion) the MOST IMPORTANT work that we do here at Kibidula. We were blessed to spend two weeks with this group last year training them in "medical missionary" methods to help them in their work to reach hearts for Jesus. It was one of the highlights of my life to work with them during this time. They are truly precious workers for the Lord. And they can SURE SING TO THE LORD!

Doug is often Fletcher's right-hand-man for various times that he needs help in the assembly of the airplane. Doug is often called over to help with aspects that require more than one person, or some assistance. This happens often. This last week though, Doug spent almost an entire day and some time the next day as they were putting the wings on the plane. It is good to see it coming together more and more. There is a lot that goes into the assembly of such a craft. Often parts are assembled then taken back apart and then together and then apart. It is quite the process.

Doug has also continued working with the water systems here. He installed several shut off valves on some of the upper campus water lines. He has fixed some new and old leaks. He really got wet when he had to install the shut-off for the 4" line. He has been a good-sport about it though.

Between other things, he is still trying to get the solar lights installed into the various native staff member's houses. That is also a bit of a process. He has to fabricate the frame with modifications that vary with each house that will be theft resistant. He has to uninstall the current light switch and change it over to a pull string switch. And I could go on and on! Then he has to actually install them. He installed three more last week. Each staff member gets ONE solar light only. It would be nice if we could do more, but I hope they can appreciate what they are getting.

June 20th was the graduation for the second year agriculture school students. Twenty-eight students graduated. They did a great job of decorating up the cafeteria and grounds for the event. There were lots of happy students, friends, and parents. I was asked to present the words of encouragement from the front. I didn't realize that meant that I would be sitting up front the entire time. It was a VERY cold, cloudy day. I felt like a Popsicle afterwards. It was supposed to start at 10 am and end by around 1:30. We ran long (no surprise.) It was a very happy time for them and their families. For many of us, it is also a sad time as we have grown to love them. I praise the Lord that many of them chose to give their lives to Jesus while they were here!
Ag School Graduation (I'm on the left under the leaf.)

Twenty-eight graduating Ag students

This last week I was also trained to start doing updates to Kibidula's official website ""  I spent a lot of time Friday morning learning the various things about accessing the site and the server.  I had a good teacher.  I was able to make my first changes to the site that afternoon (after we had some help getting the site fixed after a boo-boo.)

We also attended our first Tanzanian wedding this last week. The director of the cafeteria was married at the Kibidula Church on Thursday. The wedding was to start at 10 am. It started at 12:06. The "marching" took 30 minutes. Then the inside service took a total of 2 hours. Then there was a break for pictures and lunch (which was served under the trees.)
"Marching" out after the ceremony

The outside area for the remaining ceremonies

My lunch buddies on the ground eating with our hands.
We sat on the ground and ate rice, beans, cabbage and boiled potatoes with our fingers. After this, there was the cake ritual (they got some of their ideas from previous missionaries through the years we have been told) which is very different than the cake ritual in the States. Then the giving of presents which has a lot of "fanfare." We departed as soon as we were called to "present" our presents. We made it home around 5 pm. There were still more presents to be given when we left. I don't know if anything else happened after that. After we were able to bring up our presents, we were finally able to congratulate the new couple as we passed them after placing our gifts on the table.

Today Doug has been working on getting his bicycle fixed. The bolt was lost in transport and the one we bought had a few issues. It looks like he finally got that part fixed. I saw him riding around the house, so that is an improvement!

Starting Wednesday we have the entire first month of classes for the new session of the lay evangelism school. We will be teaching God's Healing program, nutrition, common diseases, hydrotherapy, massage and natural remedies.

I have been asked if I will teach English for the next session of agriculture students. I need to pray more about that before I give an answer.

I have one week of teaching at the primary school this month also as a substitute. We have also been asked to do some special sessions with the agriculture school including some health presentations and seed-saving.

We sent funds to pick up new batteries for the solar system. After those arrive, Doug will work on installing the solar system for the lower campus cafeteria, office and classroom. That hopefully might take place this week.

Last week we also had the reminder that theft is an issue with which to be concerned. Our neighbor is in Europe at the moment. Doug and Joshua found that someone had broken out one of her windows and pulled out everything they could reach and get through the window bars.

Charlie is black and white; the neighbor's cat is the grey one.
While she is gone, her lonely cat comes to visit us everyday. One day when he came, he had a friend. We later found out that it is "Charlie" from down campus. He has decided that there are too many cats down campus and has come up campus. We hope that he will be our new cat. We feed him and give him attention. He gets along great with the dog. We hope he will help with the mice and rats!

It is also time to be planting many crops that don't do well in the rainy season. We have started planting tops for pineapples.

Pineapple crop at the primary school
This picture is of some of the pineapple plants at the primary school.
So we have a lot on our schedules. We have NOT made it through all of our boxes in the container, either.

Thank you so much for each of you who are praying for us, for each one that is helping through encouraging words, those who help with items in the States for us, and for those that are sending funds. We couldn't do it without each of you. God has blessed us so much through each of you. Each prayer is precious!

Oh, a prayer request. The person that has been assembling the plane comes to our house to use internet almost every day. He came down with a bad illness. He is getting much better now, but now Joshua is starting to show the same symptoms and I was totally tired yesterday (took a 3 hours nap along with sleeping extra last night and the night before.) I ask that we not get sick.

We need the Holy Spirit to guide us in our teaching in every aspect and safety for all the students that are coming. PLEASE PRAY ESPECIALLY that our words will be translated CORRECTLY.

We also continue to pray and work towards us learning the language so that we won't need interpreters.

Right now we have a bit of a shortage on staff for this month (furloughs, marriages, etc.)

Thank you for the support and prayers!