Here are some of the highlights of our last six months in Tanzania. We’ll also mention a few day-to-day activities which serve as representations of our fuller lives.
Family and Life
- Baylor will be three years old next month (that’s when the “terrible twos” end, right?), and Harper is now crawling like crazy, her knees and shins constantly stained red from our impossible-to-completely-clean concrete floors.
- Christie is applying to graduate schools which have extension/online degrees in ESL/TESOL. This degree will go a long way in enhancing Christie’s ability to work in international missions both here in Tanzania and any other place we may find ourselves in the future.
- Brett’s started a running tourism company called Red Knot Racing Company. We will be specializing in luxury travel and accommodations to endurance events worldwide, though right now we’re operating only within Tanzania. Our first package is to the Kilimanjaro Marathon in March 2013. My goal in starting Red Knot Racing is to be able to fully fund all our family’s mission work by 2019. [If you know anyone who’d like to travel to Tanzania to run the Kilimanjaro Marathon and visit the Serengeti (and three other game parks), please point them my way.]
- The Geita team hosted five interns for the summer. They were a really good group of interns, and put a lot of time and effort into learning language and culture, as well as helping us with whatever we needed done. Bryan Stangeland (Oklahoma Christian Univ.) and Nik Garriott (Tuscaloosa, AL) lived with us for the summer, and were great house guests and a pleasure to be around.
- Brett studied Sukuma language under a teacher in Mwanza for about 20 hours total (scattered here and there around of all my other work), and didn’t get very far. At some point, I suppose, I’ll have to just set aside a week or two to really focus only on Sukuma language — so that I can get a base large enough to allow me to do further study with less hours per week.
- Last week the Geita team hosted 13 college students and two chaperones from the Harding University in Zambia program. The goal was for the students to be exposed to teams of young families (with children) doing mission work in Africa, using the local language. Our HIZ students helped me quite a bit with planting beans and trees, hauling manure, and even playing volleyball one evening (I miss organized sports a great deal).
- Christie’s parents came to Tanzania in October to visit us (really to meet and visit with Harper, I suppose). And Brett’s mom is here now (same reason). It’s really fun seeing grandparents meet their newest grandchild for the first time. I’m so glad they’ve been able to visit.
Evangelism and Discipleship
- Much of June through August was spent visiting existing churches and teaching towards a seminar on CPM (more on this to follow). Most of these sermons and classes were organized around the Genesis account of the fall of man, the broken relationships that resulted (man and God, man and woman, man and earth), and the need to focus more on obedience than on knowledge.
- Brett and Carson surveyed some areas further south in Tanzania for eight days with interns at the end of July. We primarily surveyed Mpanda in Rukwa area, but also made it to Kigoma for a bit. Our purposes were two-fold:
- to determine possible locations for future mission works by Church of Christ teams and
- to teach interns how to survey in East Africa.
- In September Brett taught a 3-day seminar on evangelism and Church Planting Movements to 15-20 Christians from three churches in the Sengerema area.
- Brett is currently teaching the same 3-day CPM seminar to the newly formed town church here in Geita (one day per week for three weeks). This coming Sunday will be the third and last day of the seminar, though the church may continue studying for some time along this same direction in their weekly Sunday gatherings.
- Brett will be following up on these CPM seminars December through February.
Development and Service
- Brett received his Permaculture Design Certificate on June 15 of this year. Read about the certification and see my first “official” permaculture design here.
- The experimental plot at Mwakiwasha yielded a higher-than-local-average amount of corn this summer, and I didn’t necessarily expect to see results before the end of the second year. I’ve just finished planting beans in both plots with the coming of this season’s rains — for the sake of fixing nitrogen prior to planting corn in the spring.
- Brett did the first and second rounds of chicken vaccinations (for Newcastle’s Disease) in Mwakiwasha village in late May and early September. I won’t really tally the numbers until we reach the fourth round of vaccinations in March 2013, but it looks like death rates for chickens in Mwakiwasha have gone from about 40-50% to less than 20%. Keeping just one extra chicken alive per year will provide a family with more than enough money to vaccinate 25 chickens four times per year (recommended). In December I’ll be working with a couple of young guys from the village to show them how to make chicken vaccinations a viable business that will help entire villages and also supply them with much needed income.
- A second chicken vaccination project has started a couple of villages over from Mwakiwasha in Isebya. Kosmos, the preacher at the church there, is heading up that vaccination project under my mentoring. Their first round of vaccinations was this past Monday.
- Land has finally been obtained on which to begin a demonstration farm in Geita town. Brett is also now officially the farm manager for Neema House baby home. The demonstration farm sits between the baby home and the director’s house.
- I’ve just started work on the farm, having dug swales to hold water and planted trees on either side of those swales. I’m using the fall and possibly spring to improve the soil, but will start planting at least some annuals by March 2013.
- By fall 2013 I hope to have finished the housing for goats and chickens, a small classroom and seed storage area, and two ponds for tilapia fish production. If you want to help me build any of this, let me know and we’ll schedule a good time for you to come over to Tanzania and help.
- In October Brett did a participatory rural assessment and agriculture evaluation (with a little bit of teaching on mulching and natural fertilizers) in Kasilo, and will be teaching a more formal agriculture seminar there in early 2013.
- This seminar will result in the creation of a second experimental/test plot (similar to the first one in Mwakiwasha).
- A third (and very small test plot) will likely be placed in Isebya along that same timeline.
- We and our interns introduced rocket stoves to Mwakiwasha by building the first one at Yohana’s house this past summer. We then invited all the ladies to come and learn how to make chapatis and banana pancakes (with only ingredients readily available there in the village). Christie and the girl interns taught the cooking lessons by using the rocket stove so that everyone in the village could see how little firewood it uses and how efficiently it cooks.
- Since this summer Yohana has already taught others how to build rocket stoves, and there are now three of these stoves in Mwakiwasha with plans to build (and teach) even a few others.
- We are currently reworking our budget for 2013 and hope to have that finished within two or three days. Let us know if you’d like a copy of it; we’ll be happy to send it to you. We don’t anticipate there being any big changes.
- However… there are a couple of furthering education items in 2013 for which we’d like to ask some help outside of our regular budget. If you or your church would consider helping us with either of the following, please do contact us and let us know:
- Christie’s not yet completed the application process for graduate school, but it looks as if her entire ESL/TESOL degree will cost around $15000. Of course she’s also applying for scholarships, but won’t know about those until spring of next year.
- Brett would like to attend the ECHO East Africa Agriculture Symposium in Arusha in February. He attended in 2011 and was very blessed by the information presented and through the contacts he made with other agriculture workers throughout East Africa. This year, though, I’d really like to travel to the symposium with the entire family (which indeed adds costs). The costs of travel, food, lodging and registration for our entire family will be somewhere around $1500.
- A donor from Virginia recently offered a one-time donation large enough to cover the costs of four new tires, the classroom and storage building on the demonstration farm, and a small micro-loan project to help four Tanzanians buy small plots of land on which to live and farm. This was a big help, as two of these three were projects we likely would simply not have been able to do otherwise. Thank you so much.
And thank you to all of you for your continued interest in our work and for supporting our family . We ask that you please take a moment and pray for us and for the work we’ve highlighted in this report.