I hope your week has started on the right foot with a good time of Bible study and worship of our God and Father in heaven. It has been an eventful last two weeks for us here at the Chimala Mission. As we anticipated, the Chimala Bible Institute (CBI) began with very few problems and is well on its way for this first six-week quarter. We started with 10 English students and 11 Swahili students, but have added another English student, and expect one more student (from Malawi) to join us very soon. Also, two more young men have enrolled in the Swahili program—one of them from the mountain behind us at the old mission who was baptized just last week! So we have reached our current capacity of 25 total students. We give thanks to God for blessing us with such a great beginning of the year. Here in Tanzania because of the distance and difficulty of travel and communication, it is not unusual for some of our students to arrive a few days late. Welcome to Africa!
While you are experiencing the cold winter month of January in the northern hemisphere, the Tanzanians are having their summer time south of the Equator. Everything is plush and green here as the rains have turned the otherwise dry dusty bush country into a tropical paradise. The farmers have planted their “mashamba” (farms) and are very dependent upon more rains for any hopes of a good harvest. Lately, however, it seems that the rains have slacked quite a bit and are giving some of the famers in the lower warmer elevations some reason for concern. It only takes a couple of days without rains to turn mud into dust. I know the people here would appreciate your prayers for more rain.
As you know, we have enjoyed having our son Seth with us for the first couple of weeks. Also, Jan Tate has been with us working diligently with the laboratory at the Chimala Mission Hospital. She spent many hours trying to get some of the donated lab equipment operational. In addition, she has created and updated a host of laboratory reports and forms—not to mention, she even painted the laboratory waiting room! I don’t believe she anticipated the outdated conditions here, but I know the hospital staff has greatly appreciated her knowledge and expertise. It is amazing to me how the Tanzanians can do so much with so little.
It seems Seth has become the Chimala resident computer specialist as Bill Stinson has sent him all over the mission—from the hospital to the primary and secondary schools—helping to diagnose and update computers, and remove viruses from old and ailing computers. In his ‘spare’ time Seth has also preached, spoken in CBI chapel, lead singing in both Swahili and English, and helped in many other areas. He became very popular around the mission with the CBI students, teaching staff, and kids of the schools.
Today was also a little sad for us as Seth and Jan’s time was up. Saturday night they packed their bags ready for this morning’s long road trip to Dar-es-Salaam. Normally, visitors to Chimala don’t travel on Sundays, but due to scheduling issues it was necessary. We were all up at 5:00 a.m. and met around our dining table with Bill & Cyndi Stinson and Menard Swilla for a brief 5:30 worship. Before daylight, we hugged and said our good-byes praying that they have a safe journey to Dar. Seth and Jan’s Swiss flight is late Monday night with an expected arrival Tuesday evening. Bill, Cyndi and Menard have business to conduct in Dar and should be back at the mission Tuesday evening. Again, your prayers would be greatly appreciated for the many miles of everyone’s travels. It is a little more lonely around here (even with 500 primary students, and over 200 secondary students and 200 staff workers!) without having Seth and Jan around. If all goes well, Seth will be coming back to work full-time at Chimala sometime this summer.
Mary has had a little stomach bug, but is on the mend. She met with us during our little worship early this morning but didn’t make it to the morning service at the big Chimala congregation. Garry Hill preached this morning, and I will be preaching late this afternoon. Mary is staying busy making and delivering gift packets for the new mothers at the Chimala Hospital. These packets include a handmade baby blanket, little diaper shirt, and usually several bottles of shampoo, lotions, toothpaste, etc. She and Cyndi have spent a lot of time also putting together and delivering gift bags for the primary and secondary students (over 700 bags!), and for the students and instructors of CBI. Most of these bags were handmade by ladies from many churches and, depending upon the age group, contain such things as a notebook, pencils, pens, erasure, crayons, glue, hard candy, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc. In addition, Mary and Jan have taught several children’s classes at some of the local Chimala congregations.
My primary work has been teaching and helping to run CBI. With double the student capacity, there are a few more challenges. However, we have not only combined the English and Swahili program but we have also consolidated our teaching staff. A number of our Swahili teachers are former CBC graduates who are now working on their Master’s degree. This is greatly increasing their knowledge and skill as capable instructors for CBI. My classes have included the book of Acts and the book of Job in the English program. Garry Hill, Joshua Mwakyasima, Peter Kamatula, and Bernard Kulanga are also teaching classes. Classes meet Mon – Thurs from 7:30 chapel till 4:00 in the afternoon. Friday is library day and our evangelism committee meeting. We are in the process of organizing our evangelism teams; and I gave an evangelism proposal this past Friday that we hope to put into effect right away.
Well, I didn’t mean to write a book, and I apologize if this report seems somewhat disjointed, but I need to prepare for this afternoon’s lesson. If I have the time to write more details, I’ll try to put together more of happenings here on the mission—you know, things like monkeys, African catfish, 4-inch cockroaches, etc.
Have a great Sunday!
In His service,