I’m writing this morning from a rental home in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We’re waiting for Harper Mae (due January 26) to be born. We’ve been back in Tanzania (from our furlough in the U.S.) for about two months, and it’s been an incredibly busy time. I’m not sure how to sum it all up in short, but I’ll give it a shot:
Family and Life
- Theron Guild, a potential team member, visited with us in Geita for a few weeks at the end of November.
- Craig Bullington, our team’s first apprentice, arrived in Geita while we were on furlough; he is staying with the Groen family, and will be here until May.
- Jonathan and Brooklyn Sims, potential future missionaries to East Africa, have lived with Christie and I since we returned from the states. We think of them as 1/2 apprentices, 1/2 surveyors. They’re currently living in our house in Geita while we are in Dar, and they will be in and out of Geita over the next 4 months.
- Baylor turned two in December and had a birthday “cake” made of jello. She’s also talking in complete sentences more (I think it’s the jello).
- Brett’s brother, Brian, came (from South Korea) for Christmas; it was nice having family with us for a special holiday.
- Christie’s last trip to the doctor revealed the amount of amniotic fluid is lessening, and Harper is not as big as they would have expected. We go to the doctor again this Thursday (the due date), at which time they may recommend inducing.
- Brett’s sister, Brittney, moved in with us four days ago. She has committed to being with us in Tanzania for at least four months, in order to help with Baylor and/or Harper (and with general team Geita work). Many of you contributed money to assist her in coming, and we want to thank you so much for that. It’s really a blessing to have Brittney with us. [You’ll notice this work report didn’t get written until after she was around to help with things.]
Evangelism and Discipleship
- Our time in Geita was short (between furlough and coming to Dar this week). But I was able to visit with local churches a few times. The highlight for me was being in Isebya for a big Christmas celebration, at which five churches were present. I preached from John 1 on the night before Christmas eve. We spent that night in the village, worshiped with everyone in the morning, and were still able to be home for our own family Christmas celebration beginning that afternoon.
- No matter how long we end up in Dar es Salaam — waiting for Harper, and then waiting more for her Tanzanian birth papers and American passport — I’ve got a list of things to do that should keep me busy. The three most important:
- I’m writing a Swahili curriculum to teach our CPM strategy for evangelism and discipleship to local church leaders. These churches were not begun with this method of church planting, though I’ve been teaching for a few months the principles upon which it is based. It’s now time to share with them the strategy as a whole, either to be adopted or rejected. If adopted, I’ll invest a great deal of my time in mentoring these churches to do CPM. If rejected, I will continue my relationship with these churches — aiding in church maturation — but I will expend greater efforts elsewhere, in order to disciple the lost.
- This next week I will begin my initial studies in Kisukuma, the language of the people group with whom we are primarily working. Until now all my work has been in Kiswahili, but I feel it’s important that I know and use the heart language of those with whom I’m working. I’m beginning with a few Sukuma grammar books, in order to gain a foundation for the language. Upon returning to Geita, though, I will seek to take some formal classes (a little hard to come by).
- The men of the Geita team are in charge of this year’s East African Men’s Missionary Retreat. We’re hosting the retreat in Kenya, and the dates are February 20-24. Randy Harris (of Abilene Christian University) is our speaker, and roughly 40 missionaries will attend, representing Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Zambia, and possibly even Mozambique. I’ll be spending some of my time in Dar working on the schedule and logistics of this event.
Development and Service
- Christie’s English class ended just before furlough, and she doesn’t plan to start another one until we get settled back into our house with Harper.
- Our demonstration farm still awaits a home. The land granted to Neema House by the government is not yet fully in Neema House hands — though some construction has begun on site.
- In the meantime, one of the elders at Mwakiwasha church gave me an acre of his land in the village to be used as an experimental plot. Right now we’ve planted nothing on it but nitrogen-fixing beans / ground cover, in efforts to improve the soil a bit before planting again in March.
- Also, I taught my first agriculture seminar in the village in December. I taught on the importance of mulch, and Jonathan and I did a couple of simple demonstrations/experiments during class. Several people expressed that they would indeed use mulch on a portion of their farms as a more long-term experiment.
- One of our sponsoring churches raised a one-time gift of $2000 to go towards our costs of living and delivery while here in Dar es Salaam. We were blessed to find a furnished rental home for $800 per 6 weeks (more than we’d accounted for, but far cheaper than any other options). Diesel alone ($5.50/gallon) for the round-trip to Dar is $700 more. Basically, what I’m saying is that if you’d care to make a one-time donation to help us cover some of the costs of having a baby in Dar es Salaam, it would be much appreciated. Let us know, and we’ll tell you just how to go about doing that.
- Christie and I reworked our budget before furlough, but failed to raise more monthly moneys while home. [There simply wasn’t enough time to visit family, friends, current sponsoring churches, AND potential new sponsoring churches.] So we’re going to have to attempt to raise about $400 more a month by email. Our shortfall is due to:Our 2012 budget shows our salary/living expenses at $31,200 and our work fund at $19,440. If you are interested in a breakdown of those funds, let me know; I’ll be happy to get you a copy of our itemized budget.
- some non-church funding lost.
- a 500% increase in the cost of Tanzanian residency / work visas.
- what we owe for Social Security each year.
- the rising costs of international health insurance.
- a safe delivery and healthy Christie and Harper
- the 11 congregations with whom we’re working in the villages surrounding Geita
- teammate recruitment
- Neema House / demonstration farm lands
- one-time funding (to help with delivery and costs of living in Dar)
- monthly funding
- my ability to learn Kisukuma
- East African Men’s Missionary Retreat, February 20-24
Thank you so much for reading. And thank you even more for your prayers. My God bless you to be a blessing to others.