Chimala 2011 - November 1-12, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - Well, I slept for about 5 hours last night.  The problem is that I went to bed at 9:00 and was soon asleep.  While I woke up a few times during the night, I woke up for good at 2:30 a.m.  I was able to get quite a bit of study done in the pre-dawn hours.  Today’s class went well and I was able to cover the material I had planned for today.  My only problems were the excessive heat, which required several trips to the house for more water, and my voice, which grew weaker as the day went on.  I was able to finish, but didn’t have much left at the end of the day.  Hopefully, I can rest it enough each night to teach the next day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - I’m very happy to say that I slept almost until 5:00 a.m. last night.  I repositioned my fan in the room and it was actually cool by the time I got up.  Today was a good class and I felt better.  I have not felt bad, or sick, just an acute awareness of a need for more sleep.  The afternoons are harder because of the heat.  My voice is holding up, but it feels well-used by the end of the day.  We are having our lunches and dinners with Garry Hill at his house each day and evening and we are enjoying a good visit and fellowship.  After we got back to the Bear Valley house and before we went to bed, our air conditioner shorted out.  Hopefully, we can get this repaired, or on the road to recovery, soon.

Thursday, November 3, 2011 - I think my sleep problems are no longer due to jet lag.  I think the problem is the heat.  I was up before 2:00 this morning and after trying to get back to sleep for almost two hours, I gave up and got up.  I had some work to do anyway, grading papers.  I will say my coffee is better this morning; I think I’ve figured out the measuring process.  While we were in our morning classes, the mission’s electrician came and repaired our air conditioner and we are very thankful for that.  This morning was hot, just like every other day; however, after lunch the sky was cloudy, and although by the time class was over in the afternoon, the temperatures remained comfortable.  By dinner time the clouds had returned and we hoped that the night would be cooler than the night before.  Denton and I dined with Garry at his house again and afterward, watched “King Solomon’s Mines” from 1938; the movie was filmed entirely in Africa and the scenery is very similar to what we see here daily...minus the wildlife.  I should say that Denton and Garry watched the movie; I was present in the room, but my 2:00 a.m. rising caught up with me and I missed much of it.  By the way, Garry has a very comfortable couch if you ever come for a visit.

Friday, November 4, 2011 - Today is the last day of our first week of short courses and masters classes.  The night was cooler as we had hoped and I was able to sleep late; almost to 5:20 a.m.  I awoke feeling much better and for that I am thankful.  By the way, I have not mentioned it in my daily entries, but I am extremely thankful to those who are praying for our safety, protection and effectiveness on this trip.  I know that we are making it as well as we are (and we are making it just fine, in spite of whatever complaining may seep into our reports) because of those prayers.  Thank you and God bless you for praying for us.  I spoke in chapel again today, while Denton spoke at the chapel service over at the hospital.  I was able to finish the class material on The Prison Epistles by the lunch break and the students were then given the lunch break (an extended break) to study and prepare for the final exam.  The final exam began at 2:00 p.m. and all were finished by 3:00 p.m.  I graded their notebooks by the time they were finished with the exam.  Now all I have left is to grade their essays; that’s my project for the weekend.  

Saturday, November 5, 2011 - One more week to go!  I was up early again, but not too bad.  I enjoy the quiet of the morning before light.  Today, we enjoyed breakfast at Garry’s and then, with Boaz as our driver, Denton, Garry and I headed to Mbeya and a coffee plantation west of there, near the new international airport that will soon open (or so they say).  The name of the plantation is Utengule Estate.  It was a great day to relax in the comfortable surroundings of a resort, overlooking the new airport; the views from there once international flights start to arrive should be spectacular.  We enjoyed a great lunch, good coffee and great fellowship.  While we were there, it rained and there was thunder around.  Mbeya is at a higher elevation than Chimala and is somewhat cooler and the coffee planation was higher still.  With the rain, the air was quite cool.  It was even cooler in Chimala when we returned.  We had a later than usual night tonight, watching a movie at Garry’s and then getting back “home” around 10:30, but the cooler air promises to make sleeping better.

Sunday, November 6, 2011 - I slept for about 7 hours last night!  That’s more than I usually get at home.  The cooler weather did help, but you have to understand “cooler” means than although I still needed the fan right next to the bed, I didn’t wake up drenched in sweat, so cooler is relative.  Today we returned to Mbeya to worship with the Airport church of Christ.  There were about 30-35 people present and we had a great time with them.  The singing was out of this world.  Bible class got started late because we were late getting there.  Denton taught the class, beginning around 9:20; I preached during the worship service and by the time everything was done, we came out the door singing at 12:40.  Denton was a little under the weather in the afternoon, so Garry and I attended the Chimala Mission congregation in the evening and Garry preached.  Tonight, I finished grading the Final Exams, notebooks and essays of the first year students in the Prison Epistles class.  All passed.

Monday, November 7, 2011 - The new week of classes began with chapel at 7:30 a.m.  This week I am teaching the book of Revelation to the second year students who will be graduating on Friday afternoon.  Hopefully, we can keep our attention focused on the class.  They are a good group and I have every confidence that they will do fine. Tonight, I’m printing off the first quiz for tomorrow morning.  I am beginning to feel in countdown mode.  In five more days we will be on our journey home.  Since this is the end of the term here, all the students will be going home and Garry Hill will accompany Denton and me to Dar es Salaam, making his way back to the States, as well.  Denton and I fly out Saturday night, but Garry’s flight is not until Sunday night.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - The second day of class has gone well with the second year students.  I know they are excited about graduation Friday afternoon, but they are giving me their full attention, asking good questions on the book of Revelation.  They seem to be a good group who will do well in their ministries.  After class I walked down to the catfish pond (a new addition since I was here last and a great source of.....mosquitos.  I was told there were some very large monitor lizards in the pond and I wanted to get a picture, but I didn’t see any.  To be honest I spent more time looking for snakes than lizards, so it would not have been terribly difficult to avoid my search.  I have not been able to get the wildlife shots I wanted to, this time.  Maybe the next time I come we can make a weekend excursion into the new wildlife refuge that is opening up right next to us.  The reason we couldn’t go this time is that the only entrance is several hours away; hopefully the government will open some access from this side.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - Since this is graduation week, and I am teaching the graduating class their last course, we are also having to deal with distractions as they prepare for the ceremony on Friday.  Still, we managed to cover the material we needed to on this third day of classes.  It hasn’t rained for the last couple of days, after giving us a tease with showers the three days previous.  We do have clouds rolling through from time to time and the air is dry enough that the clouds drop the temperature to a comfortable level for a while.  Sleeping has been much easier this week than last because the nights are cooling off.  Just three more days until we start our journey home.

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - Day 15 of our trip!  It’s hard to believe that the end of our stay is so near when, at the beginning when we were stuck in Dar es Salaam for three days, it seemed we would never even get started.  The students and I were able to finish the class material for Revelation today.  All they have to worry about now is the Final Exam tomorrow morning.  I have every confidence that they will do a fine job.  Today, after lunch, Garry let me drive his car (a Toyota Land Rover) back to our house after lunch.  This was my first time to drive with the steering wheel on the right side of the car and shift with my left hand.  It was easier than I thought it would be.  The roads on the mission are narrow, so I didn’t have the experience of driving “on the wrong side of the road,” which was probably a good thing.

Friday, November 11, 2011 - 11/11/11!!  Today is our last full day in Chimala.  I was privileged to preach the last chapel sermon before the term ends.  After chapel, the graduates from both the Swahili and English programs practiced for the graduation ceremony.  Afterward, the two English classes and the masters class took their final exams.  My students all passed, the lowest grade being a “B.”  The graduation ceremony began at 1:00 p.m. and concluded just before 3:00.  There were five graduates in the English program and seven in the Swahili.  There were a great number of family and friends who attended.  After the ceremony food was provided for everyone which consisted of roast pig, roast chicken, rice (two types), potatoes and a dish made of cabbage that was very good.  We took lots of pictures and it was a good time had by all.  Tonight we packed and made ready for our departure tomorrow!

Saturday, November 12, 2011 - It took a long time to get to sleep last night and I was awake by 4:30 this morning, but that’s ok.  I’m starting the long safari home today.  Garry and Menard picked Denton and me up about 7:30; we dropped by Garry’s house and picked up Don Logsdon, who lives on the mission and will be helping greatly with his farming skills once his equipment arrives from the states.  Don rode along so that Menard would not have to come back alone.  This was because we received word yesterday that there had been some rioting in Mbeya.  This was also the reason we decided to leave early for our 11:00 a.m. flight.  A sad sight greeted us as we left the mission.  A nurse from the hospital crossed the drive as we were approaching the front gate carrying a baby who had died at the hospital.  She was on her way to the morgue.  Infant mortality is a sad, and all-too-common occurrence here.  We were stuck in a huge traffic jam right outside of Mbeya for about 30 minutes and a passing driver told Menard that the riots had started again.  Once into the city you could tell things were tense.  The police had quelled the latest round of protests, which included burning tires in the street, but both sides were ready for trouble to start again.  We had to make a stop at an ATM and while Denton and I stayed in the car, we began to hear small explosions; we kept our eyes on people around us, however, and no one reacted in panic or with much concern, so we felt safe.  About the time that Menard and Garry came out of the ATM, a police truck drove by making an announcement on a loud speaker.  Menard told us they were telling people to stay in their homes.  We would have been happy to oblige!  Menard was nervous and said we need to get to the airport quickly; that the situation was not safe.  We had driven by piles of tires still on fire and dumpsters full of scorched steel belts.  In the end, we made it safely to the airport and Menard and Don began their trip back to Chimala; we wished them well and told them to be careful.  After checking in and getting everything ready for the plane, we waited outside on the runway side of the airport.  While there, we saw smoke back at the main road where we had come into the airport.  Before long we noticed a large group of people running toward the other side of the airport and not far behind was a pickup truck full of police in riot gear.  We had been hearing explosions regularly for about an hour, but a few minutes after the police truck arrived, we heard a rifle shot.  Looking directly across the runway to the other side of the airport, we saw the police truck, just in time to see a policeman fire another shot.  Our plane arrived soon after and we loaded up and took off.  One of the passengers jokingly asked the pilot if we could fly over the city and he emphatically said, “No!”  We landed in Iringa about an hour later and Garry called Menard on his cell phone.  We were happy to hear they had arrived home safely.  The rest of our trip to Dar was uneventful until about 30 minutes out when we ran into thunderstorms.  We drove around most of the worst of them, but we still had to descend through it.  Our pilot did a great job and landed without any problems.  We parted company with Garry at the airport (his flight home doesn’t leave until tomorrow night) and headed to an Indian restaurant where we could relax for a few hours before our flight to Zurich, which leaves at 10:10 p.m.

Posted on November 12, 2011 .