My two most recent posts have been a summary of our time in Tanzania and the timeline for our mission here in Geita. Today, I’m posting an assessment (of sorts) of where we are currently in our mission. But first, a preface:
Our goal was to have accomplished, before April 1, 2011, each item under “Years 1 and 2” in our timeline. We believe we have for the most part already been successful in doing so. However, we are not completely happy with where we are currently. During our furlough later this year we intend to provide you with a full assessment and accounting of our first 2 1/2 years in Tanzania. In this report, though, we’d like to briefly cover those areas in which we are dissatisfied.
[Please do keep in mind that, overall, we are pleased with where we are and what we’ve accomplished this far in our work and preparations. We’re not listing our “shortcomings” because we fear we’ve failed. Rather we are merely focusing our attention on what we ought to be working to accomplish between now and our furlough in August.]
Establish a permanent residence.
We do reside in a rental home for which we have a 5-year contract. We have also been accepted as participants and contributors in our neighborhood and community of Geita. Our house, though, still lacks much in being finished. Time, money, and satisfactory/trustworthy workers have been the limiting factors in this.
Acquire a reliable vehicle.
We were blessed to have raised the funds to order a new truck which will serve us well for our remaining years in Tanzania. The truck we are currently driving has been a real time- and money-suck. Our new truck is currently in port at Dar es Salaam, and we are waiting for the government to clear it for importation registration. We don’t expect to have said truck until at least late February. We took a bridge loan from an anonymous donor, whom we will repay after selling the truck we have now. All of this truck business will likely take 2-3 full weeks of Brett’s time in February or March.
Become proficient in Swahili language.
We do consider ourselves to be proficient in Swahili. Brett can preach, Christie can teach English, and both of us can carry out all of our daily activities in our new language. However, neither of us are completely happy with our current Swahili usage. We would like to have been completely fluent by now and instead find ourselves at highly functional. We may have had unrealistic goals to begin with — and continued study and practice should get us where we want to be — but all the same, we’re not yet quite satisfied.
This could affect our ability to learn our second African language, Sukuma. We originally intended to begin Sukuma language study at the two-year mark, but it now looks like Brett will be a month or two behind, and Christie will be waiting until after furlough to begin.
Possibly begin a Discovery Bible Study (or more than one).
This has been a subject of great struggle for us in our time here. There have been many individuals to show interest in studying the Bible with us, and Brett has a very good relationship with a few of these men. But the one Bible Study we did begin is no longer meeting. We have wondered at times if it was too soon for us to attempt training facilitators for these studies, yet we don’t blame this one study’s failure on our timing alone. At this point, we plan to wait at least a few months more before beginning another study.
Brett wants to be in a better position to devote more time to mentoring future leaders and preparing the Bible studies themselves. He intends to write (in Swahili) a basic curriculum on discipleship to be used in these mentoring relationships. This curriculum is as much to encourage Brett’s comfort in Swahili as it is for practical use.
Begin planning and preparing strategies for development.
When we first arrived in Tanzania, we felt we knew what it was we’d be doing as far as development and service to the community went. We’ve found, though, that it’s not so simple now that we’re here and a part of this community. Christie has already begun teaching one English class, and will likely open another class in the next two months — although teaching English was not part of our original plan.
Brett wanted to devote the bulk of his time to evangelism, discipleship, and church planting, and then to assist other teammates in their development work in the areas of agriculture and appropriate technology. Since that time, though, one of those teammates and his wife have decided to remain in the states at least for a time, leaving much work to be done in the area of agriculture, if it is to be done.
Also, we’ve found that we don’t feel qualified to assist in/with some of the most pressing of Geita’s needs. One of the greatest problems, for instance, is a general lack of water. Christie and I have a city water line to our house, yet have not received water from the city since July of last year. And it’s worse for many others. Another area in which we feel underprepared is health; several times per month I have people coming to me with serious medical conditions and asking for help. Their assumption is two-fold: because I’m white, 1) I have money for their medical costs, and 2) I have some expertise in medicine.
We would like to be better suited for physically helping the people of Geita, and intend (on furlough) to gain at least some education that will help in these areas. Also, we’d love to recruit other teammates to help us in the work.