Every month I send out a work report (by email) regarding our family’s ministry here in Tanzania. But I only send it to those who have subscribed. The problem is I’m still hearing from friends who want to receive it, but haven’t yet subscribed. If you want to be subscribed to our work report, please reply below with the words, “Subscribe Work Report.” Or you can use the words, “Sometimes at night I get scared because it’s dark and I’ve not yet received your latest work report.”
Last month, I posted the entire work report on the blog; I don’t intend to continue this habit, however. But I want to post something of report nature — at least until we’ve got our email subscriptions leveled off. So this month I’m posting a few highlights — along with some additional thoughts and a story. Writing a work report is difficult for me, because I try to be brief, concise, and to the point. But I really want to tell stories and use three words in a sentence that all mean the same thing. If you already received the work report by email, and want only to read the story, please skip to the end. If you’re only here because you thought this post was about Wyclef Jean, please skip to the end. If you’re only at my blog so you can reply to a post and steal away some of my massive website traffic, please skip to the end. Anyway, this is the March work report… kind of:
- We’ve been able to get the house to a more comfortable and usable state. During the month of March, we hooked up, installed, worked out the kinks in, and/or starting using the following items which make life easier:
- washing machine
- milk pasteurizer (milk is delivered to the house straight from the cow)
- deep freeze (to store meat and cheese bought in Mwanza or Rwanda)
- petrol generator (keeps the freezer running when there’s no electricity)
- water tower and supply system (with ability to store 4000 liters — we usually have water only one or two days per week)
- started building a storage room at the base of the water tower
- We were unsuccessful in obtaining Baylor’s dependent pass to make her residence here legal. We now have about 2 1/2 months left to get this done. We’re going to try again around the middle of April (a trip to Mwanza is required). If we are unsuccessful this next time, the government will take her away until we get Jay Leno to do The Tonight Show from Dar es Salaam.
- My highlight of the month (though technically this happened in April) was Christie and I sitting down with Baylor on Good Friday to tell her the gospel story. We started with creation and talked her all the way through the story of God. It was amazing being able to share with our daughter for the first time the story of Jesus and his love for us. I’ll remember this moment forever (…and I’ll tell her about it later if Jay comes through for us).
- There are three Bible study groups scheduled to begin this month. I ask that you be praying for John Paul, Sumbu, and Oscar, who are my contacts within those groups and will be the facilitators of those studies.
- I’m having lunch today with John Paul, and hope to make more firm plans concerning a start date for our study.
- Sumbu is a friend of Carson’s. Carson and Holly are scheduled to return from the states (along with new baby Jude) later this month. Sumbu would like for Carson and I both to be at the first study… so we’re looking at the end of this month.
- Oscar’s father-in-law passed away a week ago, so his wife has returned to her hometown to be with her family for several weeks. So this study group is awaiting her return.
- Please pray these studies will come to fruition. And that God will not allow Satan to postpone and/or cancel them further if that is indeed what he’s attempting.
- It is my plan this month to begin looking with greater intensity for land on which to put a demonstration farm. Please be praying that I will indeed find a suitable couple of acres to do so, and that God will provide the money needed to rent (or purchase) the land.
- As mentioned in our last work report, we’re trying to raise the funds to order a Landcruiser 78 series through MATS International. We’re looking at ordering and having delivered a new vehicle for $38,000. As of right now, there would be no tax on this vehicle as a non-profit church group, because it is listed as a work vehicle.
- At this point, we’ve set aside $8,000 towards the new truck — and we can sell the truck we have now for probably $16,000. That would bring us to $24,000 total. We are attempting to raise an additional $14,000 in the next two months. If you might be able to help with that, or your church or Sunday school class might be willing to take up a one-time offering towards that amount, we would much appreciate it.
And now, a story. A few months ago, I was driving down the only paved road in Geita (which we have because of where Geita is located, not because of the town itself). [By they way, an interesting fact: I know of only one stoplight within six hours of Geita. It’s in Mwanza, and is the longest stoplight in the history of the world. Actually, I’m still waiting at it now as I type this blog post.] Anyway, I was driving down the paved road at about 20 mph. I was not wearing my seatbelt, which, I must confess, is a bad habit of mine here in Geita. A policeman motioned for me to pull over; policemen here stand on the side of the road and just wave cars over if they’re speeding (which is quite subjective, since there are no radar guns). They also wave cars over in order to check registration and insurance, search for mandatory fire extinguishers and hazard triangles, and/or ask for bribes. I pulled over expecting the latter.
The policeman introduced himself in good English as Emille. He then told me that because I was not wearing a seatbelt, I would be fined. He was very professional and did so by quoting the code, number, and letter of the law… in English. Rather than asking for a bribe — less than the cost of a ticket, which saves him the time of writing it, and puts some lunch money in his pocket — he immediately began writing the ticket, which means there is a record of the offense and no bribe can be taken. I was quite impressed. I paid my fine ($15) and then we began a conversation about why I’d come to Tanzania.
Officer Emille was very interested in the agriculture development portion of our team strategy. He said he was currently farming only a small portion of his large plot of land, and that we might could work out an agreement to use the remainder for our demonstration farm. He offered that perhaps we could use the land in exchange for teaching him the methods we want to teach others (which is not exactly our strategy, but it was interesting all the same). I told him I wasn’t quite sure what we were looking for yet, but that we could talk later. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, and went our separate ways — me $15 poorer.
A week later he called to see if I had time to visit his garden. Unfortunately, I did not — but we arranged to do it another day (after all our visitors from the states had come and gone). Another week went by, and he called again. This time he told me he’d arranged for DSTV to come and set up our satellite dish. I was really confused and told him we didn’t have plans to install a satellite dish. He acted surprised and asked how we would watch television. I told him we weren’t planning on it at the time. He said he’d call and cancel the workers coming to the house. I thought this was really odd — and still do.
I saw Emille a few weeks ago at one of the few restaurants in town. We spoke for a few minutes and made plans to eat together another week. I spoke with him on the phone again last week, and intend to call him this week and see if he’s got time to get together. I don’t know what God is doing in Emille’s life — or if he’s doing anything — but I’d like to ask you to pray for Emille and for our next meeting. I pray that God will draw Emille to him, and allow me to be used in the process.
But about that ticket… In Tanzania, it’s an everyday occurrence to see a pick-up moving at over 60 mph with 25 guys standing in the bed. And most days I see a guy with his wife and two kids on a motorcycle, not a single helmet between the four of them. Or a bus full of passengers driving so fast it spends more time on two wheels than four — even flipping over, causing injury to those inside. But I get a ticket for driving 20 mph on a paved road without my seatbelt on?!
In the words of Wyclef and T.I.,* “With all ‘is goin’ on, why they worried ’bout me?”
*I bet you never expected to see a missionary’s work report end with the words of T.I.? Wyclef, maybe, but not T.I…. You don’t know me.