I’m a slacker. I never wrote a work report covering the month of June. So this is my June/July blog-style work report. What I mean by “blog-style” is that this work report is not the same one I send out to those on my email listserv. The number of factual items has been cut, so that I can go into a little more detail on a couple of subjects, tell some stories, attempt to make a few unfunny jokes (I don’t actually attempt to make them unfunny, though this may often be the result), and ramble just a bit.
If you’d like to receive the actual work reports (boring) by email, you can reply in the comments section of this post with either 1) “subscribe email work report” or 2) “i’ve lost 20 pounds and gained a lot of gray hair in recent weeks because i’ve never received one of your work reports in my email inbox. also, i’m experiencing horrible headaches and an upset stomach. please send me your work reports via email (and if possible, include some coupons for pepto-bismol).”
One last item before I unveil the beauty that is this work report. Please take note of the prayer requests scattered throughout this post. I’d appreciate it if you’d either jot them down somewhere and pray over them throughout the week, or at least pray a bit as you read through this post. Thanks.
Family and Life
- Baylor’s eight months old now and exploring the house. She especially likes trying to fit in tight spaces and cave-like places. We’re kind of nervous about some of those tight spaces: in a corner of the living room the other day she found a piece of shed reptile skin. Carson and I took apart the entire living room, armed with brooms for the kill. We found no snake, nor did we find the remainder of the skin. I later did some research on the internet and found that lizards also shed their skin. We were relieved to know that our daughter is only in danger of playing with lizards (which are abundant in our home and were often worn like earrings when I was a kid). We’ve had lots of critters around our house of late. My wife has documented just a few here and here.
- Baylor can climb like crazy. Up onto the couch and all the way up the back of it. She can climb out of her crib and out of her pack-and-play. The other day we found her on top of the water tower in the backyard. [That last part’s not true, but I do intend to one day put some kind of climbing wall on the side of the water tower. We might as well encourage the girl in her talents.]
- One of the most exciting family opportunities of late is that we’ve been invited by Geita Gold Mine to join their “golf club,” which gives us access to not only their golf course, but their restaurant, “western” grocery store, and swimming pool. It’s really nice, because we’ve now got a place in town to relax while someone cooks us a hamburger or pizza. And it’s really cheap — the meals, golf, and membership. A burger is about $3, sodas a quarter, 9 holes of golf $3.50, and a year’s membership $200. We feel like the “golf club” will especially be a great weekend tradition when Baylor’s a little older.
- I’m horrible at golf. Twice now I’ve played 9 holes, and my scores were 59 and 67. Carson’s average is one stroke lower than mine, but I’m gonna’ get him this week. I think all I have to do is talk a lot about snakes, and it’ll psyche him out and get him off his game (not that he has a lot of game either — he’s one stroke better, people).
Evangelism and Discipleship
- The Discovery Bible Study group in Nyamarembo is still meeting, but there have been some problems with attendance. I call them problems, though I’m not sure that’s really what they are — it’s just a lot of the group seem to have crazy schedules in which they work different days and times each week, and are out of town a lot. The study is a really good one for those present; that just doesn’t seem to be a consistent group of people. There are probably 14-16 adults who would call themselves “members” of the Bible study, though we rarely have more than 8 present. Please pray for the Nyamarembo Bible study group. We meet on Thursday afternoons.
- I am considering hosting some type of meeting or conference for local Christians who would be interested in learning how to study the Bible themselves. I will teach a few principles of Bible study, mostly the importance of reading, understanding, and being obedient to God’s word — and then sharing what we’ve learned with others. It’s likely this conference would then be followed by another meeting on how to lead a group Bible study — that second portion would be intended to serve those who have already put the first conference’s materials into practice. I’m not deep into the planning process at this point, but that’s something for you to be praying about. It will be my next big project in the areas of evangelism and discipleship — probably still a few months away.
Development and Service
- Christie’s English class is going well. There are eight students, some of whom are a little more serious about learning than others, but all of whom are anxious to learn a new language that will be beneficial to them in the future. Classes are on Wednesday afternoons. Please pray for Christie and her ability to model Christ as she teaches.
- There have been some false starts on possible lands for the demonstration farm, but right now there’s nothing going. I plan to begin looking for land again in the next couple of weeks. Please pray that I will indeed find a suitable couple of acres for the demonstration farm — and that God will provide the money needed to rent or purchase that land.
- Thanks to the generosity of a whole lot of individuals and more than a few churches, we have been able to order a new vehicle. We believe it will arrive in October, and are really excited about the reliability of said vehicle and the time and money that will be saved by cutting repairs and the like. Thank you to everyone who helped us get the vehicle ordered. You should be receiving letters (and/or emails) of thanks soon. And when you come visit us in Tanzania, we’ll be happy to ride you around a bit.
- At this point we are still raising the final $4000 to cover the Tanzanian registration costs for the vehicle. If you have some cash you’d like to contribute, or are willing to serve us by offering your mad bank-robbing skills for a weekend, let us know.
- Now that we’ve been in our house for five months, we have a better idea of what it’s really going to cost to live and work here in Tanzania for the next eight years. At the request of one of our sponsoring churches, I’m hoping to this next week complete a revised budget that will begin in 2011. If you or your congregation would like a copy of this budget, please let me know — and I’ll get you one upon its completion.
I want to admit a big mistake that I’ve made (and that I was warned not to make by at least 30 or 40 fellow missionaries). In attempts to hurry up and “start ministry,” I have neglected a few things:
- Our house is not completely livable. My clothes are all still in boxes on the floor, as are the majority of the things we own (excluding kitchen items). There are a lot of things we need to do to better mosquito-proof our house (before rainy season in November); Baylor doesn’t have a net up in her room and is still sleeping in a portable bed under our net. We don’t have furniture, beds, shelves, or anything (save boxes) in rooms where visitors would (and do) stay. There are no doors on our closets or under our kitchen counters, and so, everything is covered in (at least) a thin film of red dirt/dust. Our house is not painted, and our landlord is getting onto me for not having done it yet. We lack curtains, closet shelves, screens on the doors, and rain covers for the generator and water pump. But we do have plenty of bats in the attic and holes where snakes can come into the house.
- My Swahili is at a level of somewhere between “professional working proficiency” and “full professional proficiency,” but I should probably by now be comfortably at “full proficiency” — and knocking on “native fluency.” I’ve not studied for more than 15 minutes a week in any week for the last nine months. I am able to do everything I need to do in Swahili, but had I focused on it more, all of my work would have benefited. And because I’m needing to get to Sukuma after Swahili, this really should have been closer to the top of my priorities.
Basically, I think I was feeling pressure — I say feeling pressure, when really I think I was creating the pressure and putting it on myself — to hurry and start doing the mission work for which I’d come here. And language school, finding and getting into a house, having a baby in Dar, etc, was taking so much time that I was feeling guilty for not accomplishing more, and faster. But I was wrong. It would have been better for me to have gotten my house in order and made sure I was doing my best to learn Swahili; in the long run it would have brought greater benefits and taken less time.
So, I am attempting now to devote more time to these two things. There are, at this point, some commitments I already have to a few people and projects — and these I will keep. But I won’t be adding adding anything “new” until I’ve devoted some serious time and work to getting curtains on our windows and making sure I’m in a position to start learning Sukuma soon. I hope you can see what I believe to be wisdom in this, and more importantly that you can support me in it. Above all, please pray that Christie and I can soon be fully settled in our home and in a good place as far as language goes. Thank you for your understanding.
Now… go do the right thing. [Anybody?]