Kigoma/Kibiwa (August 12-27, 2013)
(time to get caught up a little on the blog)
We finished teaching the 4 weeks of intensive medical missionary work/health at the evangelism school for this session on a Friday. We helped the students do their second Health Expo (one in one village and this one in another) on Sunday, and Monday early in the morning we got a ride to town to start our trip to the Kigoma area.
It was a long bus ride to Dodoma the first day (we arrived about 7 pm at night.) We rushed around trying to get bus tickets for the following day for the next two days of journey, got a hotel room and found some food for the next day or two that we could take with us.
On Tuesday we boarded the bus that was coming from Dar es Salaam and headed to Kigoma. We were seated in the very back row of the bus. Looking at the inside and outside told us that part of our journey was going to be rough and dirty as there was red-brown dust coating parts of the inside of the bus. It was true.
The bus driver seemed a bit over tired and didn’t slow down (much if any) for the huge speed bumps that are common on the roads here in Tanzania. Thus we were air-born many times in the back of the bus. We hit our heads on the roof and then would have a very harsh landing. We groaned and yelped, and prayed. We also sent out text messages asking for prayers from our team members because it was taking it’s toll on us very much and seemed dangerous (and PAINFUL!) During the night we hit the worse bump and at a fast speed. I was trying to sleep at the time. We flew up, our seat cushions also flew up, we banged on the top of the bus (even breaking loose the trim on the luggage shelf above us) and landed on the metal framework that had been beneath our cushions. Again we had a lot of pain, but this time, I told Doug I thought I was bleeding. He turned on the flashlight on his phone and sure enough, I had two puncture wounds on my hand and was starting to bleed pretty well. I noticed as we started putting the seat cushions back on the seats that something was sticking up, maybe a screw or nail to hold the cushions in place? I guess I came down on that with my hand. The bus sort of threw us up and to the left so I landed left hand down to that side. This commotion woke up the back end of the bus and many started yelling at the conductor who turned on the lights and came back to see what was going on. He was so funny! I am sitting there holding my hand calmly and he starts to say “don’t panic, don’t panic!” I said, “I am not panicking.” God was merciful to us. We had not been able to put our red bag under the bus in the luggage area when we boarded (not enough room.) So we had it with us. God knew we would need it. We had a few wet wipes that we still have from the US and some other things. It took TWO wipes to clean up the blood and my hand. Then we had tea tree oil and I started to put it on. The conductor was still standing there (or he had come back.) He said, “oh good. Yes put some on. No, no, not so much!” He didn’t even know what it was. Then Doug gave me two band-aids. Again the conductor piped in, “now don’t cover it.” I probably gave him a funny look and covered each wound with a band-aid. It was a probably a few more hours until we got to the next bus stop. We were so thankful that it was a stop for almost 8 hours and we could get off the bus. My hand was hurting too much to try to get anymore sleep. Doug was telling me that his side was hurting that perhaps he scraped it.
We got off the bus and got a place to sleep for 8,000 TSH (about $5 US.) It was not a 1 star place by any imagination, but we were happy to get off the bus and lay down. There we looked at Doug’s back and he had a big scrape. More about that later. We prayed and thanked God that He had protected us during the ordeal.
We had to be back at the bus by 5 am so after a few hours of sleep, back to the bus we went to wait for 1 hour before we left. Then we rode until around 1 pm. After about one hour of paved roads, the rest of the way to Kasulu was dry, dusty roads. Some of the windows were missing in the bus and at least one window was tied onto the bus to keep it from falling off. So we had a LOT of dust blowing around inside the bus for the next many hours. I started feeling sick to my stomach after a few hours.
We arrived in Kasulu and got a taxi for another hour or so ride to Kibigwa where we met the pastor that had requested us to come. We talked of our travel and he told us this story!
He said that in the last couple of years, a young couple was riding one of these busses on the same route. They were in the back of the bus as we were and the same thing happened, but they didn’t fare so well. When the young man landed the fall broke one of his ribs and it punctured his heart stopping it immediately. The young man (who had just gotten married) died. We were so thankful that Doug didn’t break a rib. If he had landed differently, he certainly could have. With my hand hurting so much Tuesday night, I didn’t realize until Wednesday morning that I had damaged my tailbone area. By Wednesday I was WELL aware that there was an additional problem. Even after one month, I still have a bit of an issue with it, but not like I did the first two weeks. Wow. I feel for anyone that has a tailbone injury. I sat leaning forward almost the entire third day of travel on the bus and in the taxi to try to have relief. We were tired, and I was feeling really bad by the time we reached our destination. I was having fever, chills, no appetite, and diarrhea. We got a nice room at Heri Adventist Hospital about 10 kilometers from the event site.
We took the rest of the day to clean up and get some rest.
I spent a few days here and there at the hospital when I was really not feeling well. (Not IN the hospital, but AT the hospital.)
God really blessed at these meetings. Kibigwa is a village about an hour between Kasulu and Kigoma. The event site was so close to Burundi that our cell phones thought we were in Burundi and we had challenges with “roaming” issues. We could see Burundi and could have walked there if we had the time and strength to climb the mountains and valleys.
The pastors and choirs did a three week public effort for the surrounding villages and HUNDREDS of people came out. The pastor said that there was at least 1,500 people one Saturday! We set up the health posters and started doing health testing and counseling (when we could but we had a LOT of people!) each day. People would be waiting EVERY DAY for us when we would arrive. We were SO blessed to have a doctor helping us each day. After all the health tests (height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, pulse, and peak flow meter) he would then review their information, answer their questions and give them health advice and direction. We tried to educate them along the way and we had the posters up so they could read them or read them to each other, but with so many people each day and a few helpers, we didn’t do as much teaching during the health expo as we like to do. We were thankful for the few volunteers that would come and help with height and weight and registration each day.
So after a week and a half, it was time to head back to “home bases.” We were offered a ride on the bus that the choir had come on from Dar es Salaam. So we made the appropriate arrangements. We traveled two days starting VERY early in the morning Sunday with our group. They are a fun group and I loved to hear them sing. We enjoy very much working with Pastor Twakaniki (from Dar es Salaam.) The village we were in was his home village (and his wife’s.) We met several of his family while we were there. We worked with Pastor Twakaniki in Dar es Salaam at the beginning of the year in three of his churches. We hope that we can be of assistance again in his work to reach hearts of Jesus. It is amazing how the health work breaks down prejudice and opens hearts to spiritual matters. Our goal is always to point people to our loving Lord Jesus! Even people of non-Christian faiths will come when we do health outreach, and then many will stay for the spiritual meetings or be willing to have someone visit them. Sunday’s trip was eventful also. I don’t even think I can go into the details! What a ride. We were doing a LOT of praying. We got a bit lost a few times as the bus driver had not traveled this way before and it was night a part of the time and there was a LOT of construction so our dirt path would cross and cross over the new main road that was being made (currently also dirt) and it would get confusing which way to go. Then we broke something important on the bus. It was part of the suspension on the back right side of the bus so we would drag at times and we were on a tilt in the bus even when the bus was on even ground! This is the same bus that broke down on our trip to Kigoma (that was a nice treat going there!) The brake-lines stopped working correctly. We were beside the road for a few hours, but all worked out.
We stopped at Nzega for the night. The next day the bus was repaired (partially) and we made our way to another town where the final welding took place. They dropped us in Dodoma rather late in the evening and we had our good-byes with all of our new friends from the Angaza Choir from the Manzese, Dar es Salaam church. (They are a lively group for sure.)
We got a room in Dodoma and got the early bus to return back to our territory. We arrived in the evening happy to be alive and home. God is doing wonderful things. If we didn’t need to prepare for our trip to the US (which starts in less than 24 hours, now) they asked us shortly before we departed the bus if we would continue on with them to help in another effort that was starting right away. Truly there is enough work to keep us and several more people busy around here! God’s is opening the way for much to be done to reach hearts for Him.