We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Bandaged Zebra Prints and more ...

So there is lots to write about! Next up on the blog will be our new Push-Pull Technology in the Agricultural Project. And an update on the Kome Island health project. And then the results of the Great Mwanza Bake-Off with the girls at the Shelter ... But now I will start with the mamas! Upendo wa Mama has been a hive of industrious activity. This is a good thing. But also slightly daunting! Here is a bit of an update on what's been cookin' ...

Our latest new project!
A few weeks ago, staff from UTSS in Canada and Dar es Salaam arrived in Mwanza. They were joined by Dr Rhodes who taught a week seminar on counselling for over 100 participants working with people with albinism. This was followed by a great service with Peter Ash and the team at BMCC church (with Pastor Mbuke). It was lovely to see so many of the kids with albinism from Lakeview school there! And for the Upendo wa Mama group, it was especially wonderful for them to see their own children!

Prayer at BMCC
We enjoyed some time with friends, Brad and Meg Sumner, who were able to stay on a bit afterwards. They joined the Mamas group one morning, bringing some much appreciated gifts from Langley! They, along with two visiting pastors, witnessed the Magical Rice Cooking in a Basket Demonstration ... always fun!
With our gifts from Langley
The women in both the Mwanza and Dar es Salaam groups have been working hard! They were thrilled to sell over $1000 worth of products to UTSS for their upcoming Gala! It is fantastic to see the products improving and also new things starting! As well as the jewellery, cards, lip balms and soaps, we are loving the new Mamas BeesWraps! A natural and antibacterial alternative to plastic wrap ... and also brilliant for travelling with bananas ... or your toothbrush! They are great!

Mamas BeesWraps

Our new Coconut Shell Soap Dish with handmade soap
Lip Balms and Neem Creams

Gift Bags
We are having some fun with fabrics! We have been improving our African tie-dye techniques and have recently been learning how to do screen printing! We started with some great giraffes. Then one mama bought a new screen with a large zebra on. She took it home and unfortunately that night, a rat found it and ate a hole in the zebra's leg. It has added a little character to the printing as every zebra now looks like he has a bandaged leg! Oh dear.

Screen printing zebras
...with banadaged legs

So with all our fun fabrics we are looking forward to improving our sewing skills as we make cushion, aprons, bags, scarves ... if I have a seamstress friend reading this who would like something new to do .... do please come and help!
Loving the colours

The baking lessons are also going well! We are hoping to soon start selling our selection of breads, breadsticks, cinnamon buns, rolls and biscuits! Yes, rather nerve-wracking.
Making cinnamon buns (and filming the process on their phones!)

The group in Dar is also doing well with leadership from Shoma, Rahab and Hadijah! They were thrilled to receive the income from the sales of more products. I was with them a few weeks ago and we had our first attempts at soap-making and oven-less bread making. They have also started making nutritious flour to sell for porridge and are enjoying their ROSCA loans scheme.

With the group in Dar es Salaam


It is exciting to see the progress being made! But a little daunting to know how best to proceed! While I do hope that we can successfully grow in business, the best thing for me is seeing these women grow in enthusiasm and hope! We are learning new things all the time (practically and spiritually) and as we learn, we grow in skills and knowledge and also in confidence. And God is working in each of our lives. My prayer is that as He works in us, we would carry that blessing to many more people.
Bible Reading

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Some Precious Girls

Sarah* had her first baby when she was just 12 years old. She was the same age as our Louisa is now. Now Sarah is 19 and by herself with two children. She is one of the 23 girls living at the Shelter long-dreamed of and recently set up by Carol Nzogere (Mwanza International Community Church). The girls range in age from 12 to 19 and their stories are heartbreaking. Teenage pregnancy, family rejection, death of parents, poverty, prostitution, female genital mutilation, witchcraft … these are the real life themes of their stories, but should not be defining who they are. 

These girls have dreams of being teachers and doctors. They want to go to school. They long for love and acceptance, for friendship and laughter. And this home for the girls is going a long way in helping them redefine themselves. They are being cared for, loved and taught. They are finding God and experiencing His love through Carol and others working with her. 

Baking class

Making Ginger Biscuits
It has been a real joy and privilege to visit with these girls! We have been doing some classes on baking. The girls have learnt to make breads and buns, biscuits and cakes. They are so keen to learn and eager to try – and despite all the challenges with power cuts and oven troubles, we have had a great time!
Their first cakes
Eager to try a piece of cake

Unfortunately, we had a little trouble with the first bread!
In the “waiting” time of rising or baking, we have read the Bible together. We are so grateful to Tadley Community Church for providing each girl with their own Bible! Thank you so much! It is so wonderful to see them all reading them, and bringing them to church on Sunday! And it makes Bible studies a lot easier! They enter into discussion readily and we have drawn truth and encouragement from reading for example, about Sarah, also a breadmaker, and someone who also learned about the truth of God’s promises.

Bible Study time
The girls are delighted with their Bibles!
They need your prayers. The challenges are huge. Each girl has her own struggle with where she has come from and how to move into hope for the future. There are personal spiritual struggles. There are physical battles with sickness and pregnancies. Many of the girls really need to go back to school but there is no money for school fees, books and uniforms. And there are huge challenges also for the home. Right now it is hard just to feed all the girls and they are struggling to get food each day. In time, they hope to start a bakery to bring in some much needed money. The girls are also learning to sew and producing bags to sell. Please pray for provision for these girls, that needs could be met. If you feel able to help in any way, please get in touch with us as we would just love to see some of these girls sponsored for schooling as well as having enough food to eat. Thank you!

*name changed

Monday, 5 February 2018

Bread and Tallow

I was rendering tallow at the weekend. It brought back happy memories of those days we had pigs. Unfortunately this tallow was not from our own pigs ... Tim still needs some convincing! But before I show you how that went, let me tell you about the latest what's cookin' with the mamas...!

... Bread!

With our long-awaited new oven and new baking materials, the Upendo wa Mama group are now learning to bake! So far we have made some lovely loaves and yummy ginger biscuits. We are going to spend a fair bit of time over the next number of weeks learning and practicing. I hope they will learn well and be able to put these skills to good marketable use!

We did laugh at our cross-cultural confusions in the bread baking. When the first loaves came out of the oven, they looked wonderful to me. Nicely risen, good crust, good colour. But the mamas didn't seem quite so thrilled about them. I asked them what they thought. The general consensus was that next time, after the second rise in the bread tins, before we put the tins in the oven, we should take a large, sharp knife and nicely level off the dough at the top of the tin. I was horrified at such a suggestion! All that time beautifully rising and then you cut the top off! Why? The women pointed at the finished loaf, saying it had all overflowed the tin, it was like a mountain, all protruding up over the edges. It should be a nice square shape. And then I understood. The only bread they see here is the store-bought bread which comes completely square with no beautiful crust! This was just too different and clearly not quite right!

The first loaves (as you can see, they rose into the roof ... shelf now lowered!)
Kneading the dough
Sixty-five Ginger Biscuits
Packaging the biscuits
While we waited for the bread to bake, we read together about the Bread of Life in John 6:25-40. The woman shared quite a lot as they were reflecting on this. Jesus is not simply giving out bread, but He IS the bread! We don't want to be seeking the miracles and gifts, but seeking first Him. He, Himself, is the treasure.

Here is a quick one minute clip of the baking in action in our workshop!

Rendering Tallow

This week, as well as bread baking, we are making tallow soap. Trying to explain (rather physically) in Swahili to the man on Saturday who was slaughtering a pig, that I wanted the waxy-coated mass of leaf fat from beside the kidneys of the pig, was amusing. Then I got busy rendering the tallow. Yes, very cool.. and very little-house-on-the-prairie! It was actually rather more time-consuming and also smelly than I thought! The whole house stank ... and so, my girls told me, did I! As Amisadai said, I smelled much worse than a pig ... I smelled like dead pig. She was quite right.

Here is the process from start to finish ...

Fresh fat from the pig! 

Chopped finely and in the pot to melt

Getting there!

Strained and golden fat in the dish to set

The next morning

But the end result was these beautiful (odourless) bricks of pure white tallow. And the next end result on Wednesday, will be some lovely coconut soap!