Stephen and I were very grateful for the lift to Heathrow from Denis Wills, and having quickly booked in we went through departures and walked into my brother in law who was catching the same flight to Nairobi.
After a good but sleepless night we arrived there, and departed company as he was catching a flight on to Burundi, whilst we headed for Tanzania.
We arrived at Dar es Salaam yesterday morning, and were met by the Rev William from the Christian Council for Tanzania. This is made up of the different churches in Tanzania and is the lead partner with Tearfund in the CCMP -the Community and Church Mobilisation Projects. This is the name of the project which we are hoping to partner with.
We then had an 8 hour drive to Iringa. The road took us through a varied Tanzanian landscape including a national park, and as we drove through were delighted to see herds of elephant, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, antelope, baboon…..and stopped briefly at a snake farm to handle Snakes and see Crocodile! We were not expecting this at all.
We arrived tired in Iringa and ate at the Anglican Guest House above a shop called Neema Crafts, a Christian craft place from local crafts made by people with disabilites. The guest house is lovely and worth staying at if you ever find yourself in Iringa. A group of Norwegian young people arrived that evening – a cross cultural experience being part of their confirmation preparation. But this meant their wasn’t room at the guest house for us, so we moved to a nearby hotel called the Glory Lodge! No running water meant going to bed early and we had a good night’s sleep, although this morning I discovered 5 mosquitoes within the mosquito net, but at least the water was back on but reminded me of New Wine, as the hot water ran out after a few minutes!
I had forgotten what African time was. Breakfast at 7am we were told and then we would set off to visit a CCMP project. Stephen and I ate breakfast, and at about 8.30 someone else from the local Diocese who we had met the night before picked us up and took us back to the Anglican Guest house. At about 10.30 we were taken to meet the Bishop, and then at just gone 11am Rev William turned up, and eventually we set off with a driver, Rev William and three from the Diocese to the village where we were going to see how CCMP works.
The village was an hour drive from Iringa along a dirt track – for those who were concerned about the driving in Romania, taking dirt tracks at 80 kph was Interesting, especially on the way back when it was beginning to go dark! The village has been part of the Tearfund church and community project for 10 years, and we heard about and saw the difference the project had made to the village. We arrived as a baby clinic was happening under a tree in the middle of the village, but first we had to meet the village chairman. We then went to see the fresh water supply and the irrigation system that means they can grow rice in abundance. This keeps them working locally rather than having to go some distance to find work, but also feeds them (we ate local grown rice for lunch), and they can sell what they don’t need. This is raising their income and so their standard of living, and they are beginning to build themselves brick houses with tin roofs rather than mud huts. As this has all come from the church initiated CCMP, the villages have clubbed together to help build a large new church, and it became clear that the spiritual life has deepened as a result of the project.
We had a long time in the church meeting villagers and talking to them about what difference the CCMP had made to the life of the village, and it was clearly enormous – from local work, to better income, to new homes, to new and improved primary and secondary education, to a new dispensary in the process of being built, to other villages from nearby coming and learning from them, to government recognising the good work and providing resources to help. It was quite amazing! And we heard this not just from church people, but from the village elders as well, for we couldn’t leave without another sit down outside the village office with the normal round of greetings, speeches and farewells.
We spent about 6 hours in the village and learned a lot – and then the drive back even faster to try and beat the dark! Food back at the guest house before returning to Glory Lodge where I am writing this, although wont be able to send it until another time as no internet here!
Tomorrow we move on to Mpwapwa Diocese, where we think we are staying at St. Philip’s Theological College – but that has changed from yesterday and may yet change again – Africa. We are also down to meet again for breakfast at 7am and leave tea at the guest house at 8.00, but……?
In Mpwapwa Diocese we are visiting the village we will potentially link with. This is the first time Mpwapwa Diocese will have had a CCMP! So an interesting time for them. We will at some point have to meet the Archbishop before going to the village -and then he will be at St. Stephen’s on 30th March. So far we are both well and have found the day enlightening and very positive.
Thank you for your prayers – do keep them up, especially for all the travelling on the roads. Not sure when we will next be able to blog.