The weekend

So last blog we were preparing for the weekend and whatever the Lord had planned for us. Well yesterday was a wet afternoon in Murgwanza and after market and some downtime we had a visit from George. George was our old gardener who we are now sponsoring through nursing school. He is so happy to be studying and we had a good laugh about him learning computers and life in the nursing school. He looked so clean and smart and had a fancy gold coloured watch(that probably did not work). We were teasing him calling him King George. We asked about the food at the school and he complained that they had beans and ugali EVERYDAY!!! It is a strange system here (as many things are strange), it is a live in college and they are fed at the school. The students are in class block now so they start with Chapel at 7am (this is compulsory) then they have classes from 8 – 10:30am when they stop for chai. Chai is simply a cup of tea - black - they don’t even get milk and must supply their own sugar. Then more classes till 3:30pm when they get ‘lunch’ -  ugali and beans then free time till 7pm when the get ‘dinner’; ugali and beans again. Then they often study till late and start again the next day.

Georges visit was not all social. Apart from getting a feed of tea(with milk), bread and bananas he had a reason for his visit. A few months ago we helped his neighbour’s daughter get back into school after failing Standard 7 by 2 points (thus preventing her from entering secondary school). He had brought with him this same girl now named Sarai (new name with her new place at school). The school is closed for a week’s break and he was asking me to please teach her English… a week!!! Now this girl is 14 and has spoken not a word of English to me and whenever I have spoken to her in English she looks to George for help. So I spoke some simple Swahili to her and told her I would try and teach her some English for one hour a day every day this week but she had to try and speak some English to me. The students here are all so shy about trying their English for fear that those with better English will laugh at them. So she is coming tomorrow at 3pm and I have borrowed a Standard 4 English textbook from a friend as a basis to start from. I am so pleased to finally be able to help a female student!!

This morning after a lie in and a spot of house cleaning (I do do some housework!!) we shared in family church together, the five of us plus Jonathon. We sang some songs and Rob shared with us a number of short bible stories from one of the kids bibles. It was a great time of fellowship and finished with Rob on guitar and Jake on bass as we sang Create in me(Psalm 51) and Hosanna. Oliver lost interest before the end (ok after about 1 minute). I told Jonathon he could go and play or stay if he wished and he chose to stay. I think he was quite mesmerised by us singing and sharing in God’s word and praying in our own home together as a family. Despite the fact that Jonathon is a Pastors son, worship and families here are so different.

Oli and Asante

Later Jonathon’s brother Lameck and his mate Baraka turned up, just to greet us. We sat and chatted for a while then James joined us. I have always been so intrigued by Baraka. He is a quiet kid we have known most of the year and I always greet him and he just grunts at me. I wondered if he was just really shy or I scared him (maybe I can be a bit intimidating at times). Then I started to wonder maybe he just knows no English. He is in Form 1 at Mchungaji Mwema and aged about 14 I guess, so today, with the help of James and Lameck, I asked him if he was scared of me or just didn’t understand English. He assured me he was not scared of me, he just only knows very little English; again we had the same conversation about how students are afraid to try their English for fear of being laughed at. I challenged them: do they laugh at my bad Swahili…they said no we could never, so I assured them I would not laugh at their English errors. To make conversation and encourage them to speak English I asked Lameck what the passages at church were this morning and what the message was about. I got out my bible and we read through the passages from Psalms and I explained their meaning in English and went over any words they didn’t understand. At this task, Baraka was not bad. I then pulled out the kid’s bible and shared with them what we had read in family church. They loved it and it prompted many questions which thankfully Rob came and helped out with. Lameck claimed I should be a Pastor, but I assure you I am not a bible scholar but this form of reading and discussing a passage is just so foreign here. In Tanzania ONLY a Pastor can teach the bible.

James then left for home duties and my boys lit the fire to cook some Vienna sausage things that don’t really warrant being called sausages but the boys all love them. Lameck and Baraka and of course Jonathon joined us for a picnic lunch outside. John the guard also sampled these tasty morsels. Jonathon asked how many shillings they cost but I declined to tell him that we just ate a day and half’s wages in one meal!!!

But it’s not over yet. We were expecting Wilbrod to come at any time to escort us to his home for a visit. People here get SOOOO excited when we agree to come to their home. Before we left Vithalis’ son’s Samuel and Asante arrived. After Asante greeted me, the next thing he said was ‘Naombe gari’ which basically means 'can I have a car'? He is referring to a toy car he plays with whenever he comes. As we were about to go out we invited them to join us, they were not so keen at first but when I said he could bring the car he was all smiles. So we headed off - Rob, Wilbrod and I and 6 young boys. Why do I seem to attract so many extra sons here???? We had compulsory soda and biscuits at Wilbrods and as we had brought so many extras I agreed to share my soda with Asante. I had the first sip but after he had had a drink and biscuits, I declined to have any more as there were multiple visible floaters in the Sprite!! We sang a couple of songs together and Wilbrod thanked us so many times for coming then we all walked home again.

When we got home, Vithalis was there and Rob and he proceeded to have deep theological debate about predestination!!! Jake was laughing at the missionary and the pastor debating God. Meanwhile, Oli and Asante and I had a good time on the swing and the older boys were on the computer. When it was time to go Asante decided he would rather stay and live with us. I couldn’t argue as he is so cute and very good for my Swahili because he doesn’t speak a word of English and speaks in simple sentences as he is a three year old. He finally agreed to leave when we told him he was welcome to come again tomorrow.

Rob and Vithalis

So that was our weekend - just the right balance of family time and visitors. The boys are still quoting lines from Bill and Ted’s excellent Adventure which we watched again at movie night and I think they watched again yesterday afternoon. It is good to see them happy!!

Bed time now and a busy week ahead!!! Today we are 9 months in Murgwanza!!


Time Difference

Happiness adds and multiplies as we divide it with others.~

A. Nielen
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