Thursday, December 26, 2013

Liwale and back - December

We were home a for a few days before leaving again to Liwale for the two weeks of teaching and public effort.  Just before leaving, I was riding my bike up campus to take some pictures by request of the head teacher and I saw some white things way off in the field.  I thought, why is there a few sheep by themselves up here.  As I got closer and closer I realized they were birds - big birds!  I would have liked to get a better picture, but was glad to see them at all.  This is the first time I have seen the White Storks here actually at Kibidula.

White Stork at Kibidula
 We were blessed to have a week of prayer and fellowship with Kibidula staff between graduation and time to travel to Liwale.  It was wonderful.  We finished Saturday, and Sunday morning EARLY we were on our way on the first leg of the trip to Liwale.  It was two full days of travel.  We were blessed to see lots of God's beautiful animals as we traveled including this group of elephants.  We saw lots of warthogs this trip also.  We haven't seen any up close before this trip, so that was a treat also.
Herd of Elephants
 We were traveling with three others in the school of evangelism's Cruiser.  We were packed pretty tight by the time we got there.  We stopped to pick up 11 cases of books on top of having a generator another big box of books, teaching materials, health expo items luggage, food, etc.  This was the first time Blaston or Owen had been to Dar es Salaam and also the first time either had seen the ocean.
The Cruiser before books and mud
Cases of message books- part of Kibidula's publishing efforts.
The second day of traveling was very different.  There were cashew trees everywhere.  I finally saw cashews on the tree.  We also saw jack fruit trees.  Those are amazing.  The fruit are often bigger than large watermelons and on trees!  The place we pulled off to eat our breakfast (bread, fruit and peanut butter we brought with us) had cashew trees, coconut trees, jack fruit trees and banana trees.  It was amazing.  It was smooth travel until we got to road construction or "dirt roads." 

Some of the roads were scary.  The rains have returned and mud of various sorts and various depths was between us and our destination.  We actually lost one box of books when going through one big puddle with many BIG BUSES coming up behind us quickly.  God blessed us so much.  The box came off the FRONT of the vehicle, and down the hood, instead of behind, so we were able to protect it from the buses, and we didn't get hit.  The books were okay!  There were 92 books in each box.  Doug had bought some trash bags in Dar es Salaam, and we covered each box.  We couldn't get a tarp at the time we arrived.  I can see God's hand even in this.  If the box had only been under a tarp, the mud would have messed up the box badly.  But the plastic helped to protect it more during the tumble.


More Mud

This picture was after we lost the box and got it back on.
When we got to the "short cut" turn off, I saw a sign for a "pay toilet."  I got some cash from Doug and went that way.  I have never seen a toilet with signs like these.  I guess a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, I could easily know which was which.  I hope I don't offend anyone with this picture.  I asked Doug to go to the toilet and take the camera with him.  He came back snickering. 

Pay Toilets with paintings
 We were told that the short cut should only be taken if we had a VERY reliable vehicle and if we were there after 4 pm to stay close to the car because there are lions.  We looked and looked but saw none.  Just about lunch time, we pulled up in a village because I wanted to buy some mangoes.  As we pulled off the road, someone started walking towards us.  It was one of our students from July 2011 when we did our first visit to Kibidula.  After many greetings and chit chat,  I asked about buying mangoes.  The trees were rather abundant in that area.  He said we could get them.  I asked at what price.  He said only 100 shillings a piece, but not there in the market.  He told us to follow him.  We did and what a treat we got!  We bought 20 mangoes from these older ladies directly under the huge mango tree they came from.  Right now you can get between 1550-1600 shillings per dollar, by the way.  So we got 20 huge juicy ripe mangoes for less than a $1.33.  Then we followed Yoeli (Joel) to his house.  His wife and he helped us wash our mangoes and cut them and we ate the last of our bread, with some peanut butter and lots of mangoes.  It was quite hot there and also in Dar.  So juicy mangoes were perfect!  They told us that there are times when they see the wart hogs, and even hear the lions just not far away.  But, alas, we saw none.  Yoeli has been sharing the good news about Jesus in this area and there are several people now coming together and having church under this tree out in the bush.  They have no church as of yet.  What they do when it rains, I don't know.

Under the tree where the people have church.
There is a very large presence (99%) of non-Christians in this area, so to see this growth is very exciting.   We did make it to Liwale after 13 hours of travel.  Again there were cashew trees everywhere.  The people had been worshiping under the cashew trees until the new church got built.  The church was getting dedicated right after the meetings ended.  We met with the district commissioner.  He was very happy for the work we were doing and teaching about health.  He was very supportive and helpful.  He is the one that told us that the area was 99% Musl*m!  Wow.  He said if there was 2 baptisms, it would be a miracle.
Another little friend.   
 There were LOTS and LOTS of bugs.  We were told it was because the rains were starting and the bugs really come out.  I saw all kinds of bugs.  I wish I had taken more pictures.  Some of my pictures are missing.  We got a LOT of use out of our mosquito zapper each day and night.  Doug, Joshua and I slept in the same bed under a mosquito net each night.  We were trying not to touch it (because the mosquito can bite through the net) and yet give each other a little space.  It was trying for certain, especially in the heat.  But we survived.

One BIG silver praying-mantis type bug.  He wasn't so long, but BIG.

 For the first time we also saw and tasted cashew fruit.  The cashew nut is on the outside of the fruit and it has an oil in the nut case which will cause severe pain and itching.  So to get that nut out is a trick for sure.  The fruit is SUPER juicy, but not so nice.  I am glad we got to try it.  It smells like a strawberry, but it doesn't taste that way.  We were told if you eat much, your throat will hurt or swell.  not sure.  We only took a bite.

Cashew Fruit and nut.
 Joshua got to translate a LOT on this trip.  Here is is translating into Swahili for Owen during the cooking sessions.  People really enjoyed learning how to cook new foods more healthily.  Doing a cooking school outside under the cashew trees is a very different experience.

Joshua translating
Evangelism students
 The mornings were usually for giving classes to the local evangelists.  We taught about health and medical missionary aspects.  Others taught about family life, nutrition, and what it means to be a real Christian.  We had 12 students in the beginning but by the end of the two weeks there were over 20.  This is inside the new church.  It is big.   Attendance wasn't big for the afternoon evangelism efforts.  The loud speakers blared the seminars far and wide though.  We started with a health topic each night (me and Joshua), then a cooking class or family life, then the main message then Doug would have another hour for video projector health lessons.  Then we did the health expo.  The people were hesitant to come, but they did come.  Forty-five came the first day.  They were so happy to meet us and learn so much about health.  The attendance for the meetings started to grow a bit.  Then we had another health expo.  Fifty five came this time.  The rain ran us indoors the first day.  People didn't want to go in the church.  They were afraid of what might be going on in there.  When the rain came, they went in and started saying things like, oh, this is a nice place.   There isn't anything bad in here.  Some said they had been listening to the meetings from behind the trees, but they would start coming now.  God can even use the rain to be a blessing.

Health expo
 The health expo was a great tool to open hearts that would not come to any other meeting.  We made a lot of friends.  Hundreds of books were taken by people.  People were asking for message books as we walked down the road after the first week of meetings.
One of three who were baptized
 At the end of the meetings THREE were baptized
This is Ester.  She was a VERY friendly little albino girl.

Evangelism students who came to the seminars with us teachers

 On our way back, we stopped and had lunch with another previous student.  After we were done, Joshua came in trying to get me to come see the monkey.  They had a monkey from the wild that was now a pet.  He was a bit over friendly.  Joshua and I petted him and played with him a bit.  Joshua was in love with him.

Joshua's new friend
 We made it back to Dar es Salaam around 9 pm.  It was a very long day of travel.  We spent two nights there.  We needed a day for some things that needed to be done.  We had some trials on this trip, like breaking two kindles, dropping the case of health expo items from the luggage rack onto someone's motorcycle, paying for damages for that, and some other issues (like people wanting their palms greased.)  But God got us through without more troubles, which we could have had.   The long days of travel and lack of sleep caught up with us and we all three had our share of sickness.  I am almost well now.  Lack of sleep is rough on the immune system. 
After getting back to Kibidula, I, Tamara, started attending the Nutrition/Cooking classes that Owen taught here at Kibidula.  We made some new friends and it really inspired me to start doing cooking classes again (greatly changed since we are in Africa and without many tools!)   I am praying a lot for wisdom and skill to make some plans to be a blessing to those that want to learn to cook more healthily here.  I would appreciate prayers. 
Doug has been busy while I have been in class.  He has removed the two plastic bowls that were our sinks, and put in the sink Mom gave us before we left.  (We brought it in the container.)  Today he finished the last of the cement grinding to install it.  Our counter-tops are cement.  No termite issue here.  We are recovering from the cement dust now.  The sink looks so nice.  The water isn't hooked up to the new faucet, but that will come in time. 
Yesterday we put together the little greenhouse frame.  One piece got lost somewhere, but Doug was able to make it work anyhow.  So soon we will have a protected place for starting seeds and some other plants.

Greenhouse frame being moved to the garden.
 I have lost a lot of pictures somehow.  They help me remember what to post about.  I don't know how that happened, but it did.  We will start teaching again on the 7th of January.  We should be home (Kibidula) for two full months for teaching!  I started back giving piano lessons to some of the children here.  They have to wait until I am here and available to come for their lessons.  
The lady that is translating our materials is still working at it.  When there is no power, she is limited (using a laptop.)
All is well.  I see God working and guiding so much.  It is a blessing to have the opportunity to serve Him here. 
Thank you for all of your prayers and support.

One month at Eden Valley Foster Care Mission and Graduation

We praise the Lord for the opportunity to be able to assist at Eden Valley Foster Care Mission again this year with Janet Fournier.  We had all the students of her industrial school and the staff as "our students" for the L.I.G.H.T. Health Essentials course.  We had 36 "graduates."
Tamara teaching students and staff at Eden Valley Foster Care Mission

It was a great four weeks of teaching and doing various things around campus.
Doug got to pull more teeth.  I got to help a bit with some wound care on a machete incident and the infected finger.  Doug did lots of various odd jobs around campus, including work on electrical issues, plumbing, cutting trees, doing cement jobs, installing a squat toilet and lots of things.
We were again blessed to get to assist with the clothing distribution for the local orphans also.
Several schools sent their lists and orphans down to get some clothes that Janet had purchased (as bales of clothes) and also to receive some school supplies, a paper on the love of Jesus and a big long bar of soap (to wash clothes with or anything else!)  You know, kids in the US just don't get as excited about soap as these kids do!  And you should see their eyes light up when we pick out a nice warm sweat shirt hoodie that will fit them and help them to stay warm in the cold mountain air.  Janet handed out many new uniform shirts, some skirts and pants, also.  There were a few dresses in the handout also.  It warms our hearts to work with these unfortunate children.

One group of many orphans getting clothes soap and other things.
The young lady (from the last post) that we worked on her finger, she healed up VERY quickly and without any more complications.  (I am SO thankful - she is too!)

The mother and baby - the mother did stay in the hospital and healed up.  After being out for just a couple of days (we got to change out her wound dressings) she took the baby to the big hospital in Dar es Salaam.  It wasn't before she showed us that the baby had stopped using her right leg and the left leg seems weak.  We are still waiting for the end of this story.  (Update December - the baby died after treatment in the hospital.  We don't have all the details.)

I now know what scabies looks like.  A visiting child has them on his hands and arms.
After that, I started noticing it a lot more on village children and also some of the orphans that came for the clothing distribution.
The visitor with scabies on his hands.
We had a young lady (and her father) come over to ask about a problem she is having.  She has swollen place in her lower left abdomen.  She went to the hospital and they said it was her kidney.  Excuse me.  Last time we checked they are not in that location?!?  We talked to her for quite a while and looked at the list of medications they put her on.  What a list!  Sometime, I really wonder about the "help" that some people offer.  She hasn't been drinking enough water, so we remedied that immediately and talked to her about several other options.  Her father reported that she was feeling better very quickly after making a few changes.

I learned how to harvest pine tree seeds from the forest.  Janet has a new agriculture teacher and raising pine trees to sell will be part of the new project.
We did TWO HEALTH EXPOS with our students.  The one in the village of Ikonda we had 103 people come through.  It was very dusty and hot that day.  One week later we did it at the Tandala Teacher's college and had OVER 1000 attendees!  It was rainy and cold.  The weather sure can change quickly!  It was wonderful.
Health expo #1 in town with "one-day" poster racks.

Joshua helping answer health quests at the health expo.
1000 plus attendees at the 2nd health expo!

Even when it started raining, some of the people were so serious about learning about health - they didn't budge.

Just before the Health Expos we needed some papers printed for the attendees.  There were some other things that needed done, so Janet and I headed out to Iringa (many hours away.)  We got our errands done (with several challenges.)  On our way back from the school we visited there, we passed a cemetery.  I was amazed at the number of freshly dug graves.  There must have been a hundred.
Death and dying are so frequent here.  It is troubling for certain.
Hundreds of fresh graves

 Then we spent the night back in Kibidula before returning back to Mago.  It was my first time to ever stay in our house completely alone.  The dog and cat were so glad to see me, though they slept outside.  Come to find out the next day, I had not been alone after all.  I found this little guy in the house.  I love geckos.  He was TINY.  I love it when God shares His special creatures with us.
My little house guest
On our way back from Kibidula going to Mago, we noticed a long line of big trucks waiting to go through the weigh scales.  I think we counted 70 or more.  What a traffic situation!
Traffic jam

A teenage girl (happened to be one of the orphans also) had a machete injury that we were bandaging.  It is healing well.
The orphan with the machete wound on her leg.
After many bandage changes - healing well. If she had come sooner, it could have been sewn up, but she delayed too long.

We almost got to help with wildfires a few times, but they were out by the time we arrived.  Well Doug and Janet got to help with a small one.  I had to wait until Joshua got back so I didn't lock him out of the house at night without him knowing where we had gone.  We saw some amazing smoke from some that were far away over the mountains also.  They must have been huge.

A huge wild fire in the distance that filled the valleys with smoke.

So we are back at Kibidula now.  Twenty-two of the evangelism students graduated last Sunday.  We taught them their first month (of five.)  It was a happy and sad good-bye.  It is hard for them to be gone from family for five full months.  They are anxious to go back and get to work sharing the love and good news of Jesus!
We had SIX graduating Masai students!
2013 - 2nd session graduating evangelism students (our health students)

The rains have returned.  We are getting rain everyday this week so far.  The corn is starting to grow in the fields around.
We leave Sunday for a two week evangelism/seminar trip.
Today is Thanksgiving - we have SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR!  Doug had to go to town with Jean-Luc to get some things done for our residency permit (TWO YEARS HAVE FLOWN BY!)  But Joshua and I were able to join with the other Americans on campus for a nice lunch.  I made some cashew/rice carob mint ice cream to take over.  It was a hit.  Wish I had measured when I created it.  Oops.  I will have to work on that recipe to repeat it again correctly.

God is so good and has provided all these opportunities for us to serve.  We are blessed.  All good gifts are from Him.  If anything in our lives is good, it is from Him!