Sunday, April 26, 2015

God Reigns and the Sky Rains

Left:  A muddy Sunday morning at Njiro Chini    Right: Monthly evangelism meeting with area preachers

     Things are continuing to move right along here in Tanzania.  We are still the only American team-members in the country right now, but we are looking forward to Cy's return in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, we are busy making plans for what promises to be a very busy Safari for Souls season.  Our first campaigners will be here next week to do work in Njiro Chini.  Exciting times!

     At the school, I am currently teaching a class on Christian Evidences.  It's one of my favorite topics, and it is rewarding to see the students growing in this area.

    We are finally getting some very long overdue rains, and the crops are happy because of it.  It makes travel on all of these dirt roads a little more treacherous, but the rains are very much a blessing to the people of Tanzania.  The drought has caused reservoir levels to drop dangerously low, and has been a serious concern.

     The electrical situation has stabilized (somewhat).  For several weeks the power was going out for several hours each day, and even for several days in a row at one point.  A couple of weeks ago we used more gas in our generator than we did in our vehicle.  In fact our generator has already logged twice as many hours this year as it did all of last year.  However, the past several days have presented no problems in that area, and we hope that will last a while.

     An acute awareness and gratitude for the blessings of water and electricity are just part of life in the African mission fields!

Our road is a little muddy
Sometimes you just have to wait for a herd of cattle to clear out of your way


Friday, April 10, 2015

Swahili Bible Class Songs

     For those of you who might visit Tanzania, and plan to help with a children's Bible class while you are here, we thought we would provide you with a little tutorial on how to sing a few Swahili songs.  If you learn a few of these, it will put you much more at ease in front of those sweet little faces.  Even if you're not coming to Tanzania, maybe your Bible school class might enjoy some of these songs.  Hope you find these videos interesting and helpful!  You can download the lyrics HERE.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Our Easter in Tanzania

     Our morning began just before sunrise with a few short moments to prepare for the day while watching the rising sun.  However, quiet time was quickly cut short by eager little boys who had discovered their Easter baskets.  In the pictures below you can see the excitement.  Tiffany does an excellent job of trying to preserve our family holiday traditions as best she can.  She has always tried to make these days special, and the family is blessed through it.

     Just like back home, we had to take time before church to snap a few pictures in Easter clothes.  Of course this has to be done as soon as they are dressed because within moments they will be covered in dirt, candy, and mysterious substances that we just don't ask about.

     Case in point, before we even get out of the driveway, Levi has taken his shoes and socks off.  Josiah has then put Levi's socks on his hands like puppets.  We don't know why they do all of the things they do.

     Then we arrive at church.  Today we are visiting the Kisongo congregation.  I am introducing the Spiritual Disciplines seminar to this congregation.  Over the next 3 months, evangelists from all over the area will visit to present lessons on different spiritual disciplines.  It is a terrific study and a great way for the churches to build ties with one another.

Tiffany teaching the children's class at Kisongo

Daniel preaching
     People sometimes ask us to share more pictures of everyday life.  We did more of that when we first got here, and everything seemed novel.  Having lived here for a year and a half, those scenes have become commonplace now.  Often times we just don't think about the fact that you might be interested in seeing things that would be uncommon sights in America.  So here are a few things that we saw this afternoon as we were driving.
This is the "parking lot" at Kisongo.  A motorcycle and two bicycles wait to take their owners home.  There is one vehicle outside the fence, besides ours.  Everyone else has come to church on foot today.  Incidentally, having rained the night before, it was a pretty muddy morning.

Yes, there are 4 people hanging off the side of that van (dala dala).  Yes, it is moving at full speed down a major road.  No, this is not an uncommon sight.  

This is a bit blurry because we were moving, but I though you might find it interesting anyway.  This motorcycle (piki piki) has a loveseat and two chars strapped to the back.  Hey, you do what you've got to do.

I guess that's the alternate way to spell "Gaines"...   Levi and Josiah show off their egg baskets.  Levi missed the point and was collecting grass.  At least he was enjoying it...
     We had reservations at a local restaurant to eat lunch and join in an Easter egg hunt.  It was very nice and got off to a relatively good start, BUT then it came time to hunt the eggs.  The boys had been hunting for just a couple of minutes when several of the children started being bitten by ants.  Not just any ants, siafu.  (here's the wikipedia link)  Siafu have extremely powerful pinchers and have been known to swarm and kill small animals, even the occasional human.  The Maasai sometimes use them as emergency medical sutures by allowing them to bite a wound, then breaking the bodies off.  The heads can remain clamped for several days as the wound heals.    
These ants were marching right through the area where the eggs were hidden.  Our family suffered a few bites, but nothing major.  Needless to say, we cut the hunt short.

Siafu, a.k.a. driver ants or safari ants
We found this guy still clamped on to Tiffany's heal when we got home.
     Never fear.  We had another egg hunt all planned with our neighbors for later in the afternoon.  This was much more successful and the kids had a great time.  All in all it was another full, but wonderful day in the life of the Gaines family.
Abby, Josiah, and Levi, along with Ethan and Chloe (our neighbors) find basketfuls of eggs.