Thursday, October 22, 2015

Very Dirty Work

So Kibidula is in the process of selling off the remaining sheep here as the sheep program has been officially closed for many, many months.  ( I don't remember the exact date the decision was made.  It may be a year now.) 
So we have been hauling in loads of sheep to town for market each week.  We are down to about 200 sheep now. 
A load of sheep was ordered to be delivered today.  Doug also needed to go to Iringa to do bank work.  To try to reduce costs, we combined the trips somewhat.  I drove him and the sheep to town.  He then took a bus to Iringa (much cheaper than fuel and mileage costs).  I dropped him at the bus stand first and then headed to the place to unload sheep. 
There were two ladies in the house, and I didn't ask either to help me unload the sheep. 
I backed up the truck, took off the one board, and let down the tailgate.  The sheep had decided the truck seemed like the safest place to be and were not coming out on their own.  This is normal.
I had already moved the one piece of slab board that acts as a gate to the pen area.  I have been involved in sheep unloading before, but I prefer to watch instead of participate for a variety of reasons.  The main one is that I don't like the way I smell afterwards if I help.  It can be stinky work, especially after they have ridden cramped in the truck for about an hour.
Well, today I was alone.  I grabbed one of the sheep by the hind leg and proceeded to coax it out.  Something went wrong.  She came out, but decided the courtyard looked more promising than the pen.  Off she went. 

Courtyard with the gate open

I immediately went to the courtyard gate and closed it so I didn't have sheep running all over town.
Then I tried to encourage the sheep back.  She was not encouraged at all.  Pendo, the young lady of the house helped me encourage her for a while, but again she just wouldn't take our encouragement. 
I went back to the truck and decided to move it a little to improve my chances of success. 
Well, I don't remember the order, but soon there were five sheep in the pen and three running around the courtyard.  Two more to go, and I was determined not to have two more in the courtyard.  I was hoping if I got enough in the pen, the others would miss their friends.  It was number nine's turn.  It wasn't going well.  She thought the other side of the fence looked better.  It would have been funny to watch us, I am sure.  Somehow, I managed to wrestle her back into the pen.  Number ten refused to go in, and that sheep is strong!  I had her a few times and almost lost her completely.  It was a battle of the wills, and I was extremely determined by this point.  I ended up on the ground (in you know what!) but refused to let another sheep in the courtyard.  I was yelling "no, no, no!" and refusing to give up.  I wrestled her back into the pen.  I looked at the three "get-aways" and decided to move the truck to be between them and the watch dog, which was loving all the excitement.  Dina (the lady of the house) was trying to keep the dog quiet at this point.  He wasn't helping, much.  After moving the truck, I went behind the three run-aways and explained to them that the other 7 seemed very content in the pen and perhaps they would like to join them.  (I had been trying to convince them all that the penned in area seemed nice.)  They were hesitant and started to bolt the wrong direction, but finally they started moving very slowly in the right direction.  They got up to a tied-up calf and seemed content there.  No, that wasn't good enough.  More encouragement was needed.  Then it happened.  They were encouraged - FINALLY!  They took off like a lightening bolt headed for the opening in the pen.  One, two, three!  YES!
Inside the pen
  Dina and I closed the slab board fence piece and assessed the damage to my skin and clothes.  Oh, what a mess I was.  My skirt, my new shirt, my feet my hands.  I never did look at my face.  I probably should.  I still needed to do a little work in town, running errands, and now I was covered in POOP!  I was wearing a very light denim skirt and pink shirt!  Poop really shows on such clothes. 
Dina suggested a little soap and water.  We tried to at least reduce the amount on my hands, arms, and shirt.  We were washing my clothes on my body.  We were all three laughing a lot.  My skirt was too much, so I borrowed a kitenge wrap and just covered up my skirt.  Dina thought I looked very Tanzanian then.

They aren't as innocent as they look
1 Peter 2:25  For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

I remember praying and asking God for help in unloading the sheep.  I don't know if I was precise enough with my request.  I am certainly thankful for the help in getting them in the pen even if it wasn't the way I had planned.  I got some exercise, and several of us got a good dose of "medicine".  Laughter is good medicine, right?

Oh, and I learned that the sheep don't smell so bad in the dry season.  I am so thankful for that!
So even though I was quite soiled, I didn't smell it.  I hope nobody else did.
I hope that there are days when as Jesus shines through me, my life is fragrant like a nice flower.  But today, I had to settle for something a little less attractive.  I praise the Lord for a good attitude in it all.  It sure did make me wonder if the holy angels ever laugh.

 I know we did!  God is faithful, and He knows what trials I need in my life to "clean me up" inside and out.  I am trusting Him.  I also learned, some things require more than one person - like delivering sheep.  Truly - TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE!  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.  Okay.  I had better go check my soaking clothes.  One just never knows what the day will hold. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Running in circles

God is faithful.  Things have been very challenging around here since we have had three missionary families leave in the last year and a half.  The work load has not decreased, only the workers. 
We are very thankful for the Katsma couple coming this year.  Candi has been helping at both the primary school and the agriculture school.  She has also been doing some crafts and sewing classes for the missionary children.  David has been helpful in lots of areas, especially in mechanical areas.  Unfortunately we have a vehicle that continues to have challenge after challenge which has been keeping him really busy.  He has helped get other vehicles back up to good standards.  He is always willing to help out in many areas.  He has helped with many needed trips to town, plumbing challenges and other things.
Even with this, we are still back-logged on many, many things.  We need prayers.  We have been praying to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers.  When Jean-Luc left this June, he left the accounting, treasurer, publishing and agriculture director positions.  Doug took over treasurer, we have someone that has taken accounting, agriculture leader was given to another, and I was asked to do the publishing work.  Still we have so much to do.  There are many building projects that need attention.  We have a new water tower that needs to be built, the new office building is mostly built, the new press building will need to be started soon, and we want to get the chapel finished.  I am sure there are other jobs that I don't even know of. 
Jason has been so busy working all over campus.  He has been helping the agriculture school add on new fields.  The avocado fields are growing and growing.  Doug has been all over campus this week trying to help out with needs at the wellness center, get the motorcycle fixed, getting administrative tasks done, installing solar components, delivering things and on and on.
Me?  I should have kept my diary up.  I have been so busy, I haven't even done that!  The publishing department keeps me hopping.  This week we have been dealing with container loads of books starting their journeys.  That involved lots of last minute emails back and forth, lots of details to arrange and payment.  Then we decided to do a one-page advertisement for the Bible studies, tracts, and evangelism school in the Sabbath School quarterly.  The deadline for that was "right now!"  So that took some effort.  We had to come up with what it should say and design it.  Then we have it translated and edited.  Then to get it back into a format that was compatible with publisher.  We did get it to them, but I haven't gotten any feedback!  God really blessed.  I told the translator to just translate it and not to work about the layout.  I knew with the new wording, it would probably be a mess.  Well, she ignored my directions and put it back in the format I sent it in AND made a whole new design with the same words and a few extra.  I liked her design better.  I just had to take her design and put it in a single color and black and white, and into a different file format (more work than it might sound like!) 
I have spent a lot of time working on future publishing works.  Trying to find files, getting files ready for translators, etc.
Lots and lots of books are getting into the hands of people.  I did the book inventory for the office, and had to adjust my inventory because people kept buying books!  That is a good thing!
We are very thankful for some help that is coming soon.  The Taft brothers and two of the Bange boys are coming in November.  Doug has lots of jobs he is hoping to have them help with.  Jason is also making a list!  It will be wonderful to have some young, strong, smart men around campus to help out in many ways!  We only have them for two months, but we plan to make the best of it!
There is another family that may be coming.  My understanding is that his expertise is in administration.  That might free up Doug to do some of his other duties.  We just won't know until all comes together though. 
The Wellness Center has three health guests right now.  Ashery is back helping, and we have a medical student here learning for a month also.  Doug will be going to Eden Valley Foster Care Mission for a week to do a crash course there.  Then Kori will follow up the next month to help them go out into the village doing practical application.
AND it rained!  We got our first rain of the season Wednesday.  It rained a little today also.  I didn't realize I would get excited about seeing a mud puddle, but I did!
That sure takes a little of the fire hazard down.  YEAH!
God has blessed us very much!  Thank you for all the prayers and support.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Remembering the past and working for the future -17 Evangelism Efforts and 400 Baptisms

It was a privilege and challenge being the local support person for the 20 people that came from the US and Uganda to be the speakers for seventeen evangelism sites around the Mbeya area.
There were delayed flights, missing luggage, jet lag and the normal challenges along with the challenges of trying to work in a different culture to manage so many sites to encourage people to know the true character of God.  We had excellent support from the local church conference and leadership.  Without them we could not have accomplished anything.
So for about 25 days my life was very, very interesting and many times exhausting.  Thank you everyone for all the prayers that kept each one of us going through the challenges.  Health challenges were not the least of them.  The dust was formidable at the evangelism site where I was each evening.  Above other jobs I had, I also drove speakers to three sites each evening and also assisted by doing the health lessons at one site.  We were blessed to witness about 20 baptisms at our site alone, and many other made decisions to prepare for baptism.  It is always touching to see people recognize Jesus as their Savior and to accept as Lord and to follow Him in baptism.

There was also something else that was super special about this trip.  The organizer, David Dobias, was the the first missionary to be stationed at Kibidula!  He was the pioneer for the mission work at the station where we now are stationed.  He and his family were the first ones to come after the land was donated by the previous owner, a farmer.
Mr. Dobias was a very influential leader all over Tanzania in those early years.  He held many leadership positions in church higher levels.
According to the time of life and challenges, he told me that he felt this would be his final trip to Africa.  He has been making trips to Africa for years doing missionary and evangelism work.  As part of this final trip, he brought two of his grandsons, who preached at two of the evangelism sites.  Also his daughter, who was BORN at Kibidula came the last week to visit the land where she was born.
Mr. Dobias said he was touched as he sees the growth in the churches and missionary sites where there had been so little, or nothing, when he first started the work.
We visited several sites which hold parts of his heart.  It was touching to me to be part of this final visit.  If it were not for his and his wife's willingness to come to Kibidula, who knows what might have been?  God used him and his family to start much work.

Mzee Sanga and family were so happy to see the Dobias family one last time.   His son, on the far left played with the Dobias' children.  Mzee Sanga was a very important local missionary to assist the the Dobias' as they started the work at Kibidula.  It was a very happy reunion, even if for only a few minutes.  
Meeting up with the Sanga family at Kibidula
 This was the Dobias home which is now part of the East Tanzanian Conference Headquarters. 
Home, many years ago
 Mr. Dobias buried Pastor Twing January of 1972.  His wife came back to the mission field and worked many, many more years to serve our Lord and the people of Tanzania.  She just passed away last year, after serving another 42 years!  This was one of the important stops he wanted to make, to see where they had placed his wife next to her husband.
Pastor Twing and Ethel Twing's resting place until the resurrection
 We made special efforts to find out if Elizabeth was still alive.  Elizabeth was the house worker for the Dobias family for many years.  She is blind now, but she was able to hear well and touch the family that she loves so much.  When she realized Mr. and Mrs. Dobias were there, with their daughter and two grandchildren, she whooped and hollered with joy.  She talked about how she once carried the daughter around on her back, and here now she was meeting her son.  She was delighted for the visit.
Elizabeth was so happy!
 We took a trip up to Bagamoyo.  This is the place where David Livingstone's body was brought before it was taken to Zanzibar and then back to Europe.  Mr. Dobias admires the work of Livingstone very much and he wanted to share this place with his family, one last time.
Bagamoyo museum. 

Bagamoyo - One last visit

The Livingston Tower in Bagamoyo

I praise God for giving me the joy of sharing in this trip with the Dobias family.  It was a very, very special time for them and for me as well.  May God find us all faithful!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Furlough 2015

We have been so blessed on this trip.  It is coming to an end.  We are on our way to the airport even as I type this.  I will share some pictures to recap just a little of the wonderful blessings along our trip.  Thank you EVERYONE for all the prayers, support, love, friendship - EVERYTHING.  So many of sacrificed time and means to be a blessing.  We are charged up and ready to head back into the foreign mission field for another 3 years!  THANK YOU.  God is so amazingly faithful.  Truly He LOVES to give us the desires of our hearts!
Joshua said he hoped he got to see snow.  It is snowing in this picture - MI.
Great time with Aunt Brenda, Uncle Keith and cousin Kyle in MI.
Having fun at City Museum, St. Louis with Alan
Experienced a little taste of heaven at Family Retreat
Praying Dad's house safe during the fire behind his house AR
Making great memories and music in OK
Only casualty for the tornado that we experienced in OK
All the way from California to visit - good-byes at the waffle breakfast in Decatur, AR
Fun with cousin Braden, Rogers, AR
My nephew Jason and his beautiful wife!
Science Museum Hot Springs, AR
Fun time with the Bergers
Family get-together in Rogers, AR - GREAT TIME!
Some of the nicest people you can ever know.
300 hugs for Ms. Elaine
Super lunch and fellowship with Jeff and Nancy
Wichita Church - Swahili service!

Stratica Salt mines
Cox family - fun in the hotel
Doug trimming in the tree at Moms - Missouri
Joshua helping a little too at Grandma and Grandpa Owen's - MO
Always have a great time with Ruthlynn and Alan in Summersville, MO
Driving the "big" equipment MO
Eagle on the river at camp - MO
Brandy and family from KY
Horse fun with Tafts and Banges
After exploring the "MUD CAVE" with the Taft family
Making "memories" on the river
More Taft fun
Horse fun at the Bange's place
Campfire memories with Tafts and Double Banges
"The Horse Ride"
Idaho Bange - always in our hearts!
More Bange fun at Rocky Falls

Blue Spring
Aunt Deanie and my cousins in Kansas City!

Working (or playing) with Grandpa Cliff
Mom and Cliff - good-byes
Having a blast on the river with the Savoys and kayaks!
Teamwork Trophy - They rescued the sunk paddle!

Trina the tiny turtle found on the river and released in a good spot

Our borrowed wheels and great friends who loaned them to us!

St. Louis Zoo fun with Blake and the grandkids
Bird Sanctuary with the Farrell clan
Wild elk in MO in the Lone Elk Park
Joshua cooling off at the splash pad.
The best neighbors a family could ask for!
Helping out at the Rogers Soup Kitchen - AR
Helping a little at the Food Pantry, Elsie, MI

Farewell lunch with new and old friends in Plymouth, MI

Good-byes to the Schoch Grandparents at the train station, MI
Well - we have completed the car ride to the train station.
We are on the train to the subway station.  Then we will go to the airport and Africa here we come again!  Thank you everyone for the prayers!