Marian Baker

From Board Member Marian Baker: Good News for the New Year from Tanzania

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We have just returned from a week in Tarime, Tanzania (near the border of Kenya).

Pamela Ngoya, Eileen Malova and I together with a team of local women managed within the week to get doors and windows made and installed and a roof put on the church that had been sitting unfinished for 15 years! We women managed to get it done on a low budget – a job the men had been defeated to get done. The church building is located in a central location for most Tanzanian Friends, so is important as a place to hold leadership trainings and meetings.

Eileen and Esinas Mwita- both business women organized us, Pamela and I ran around making sure the work was going on using local fundis (carpenters, masons, iron workers) plus some local children who helped carry bricks and basins of the mixed cement to the masons.

We hired 3 Quaker men, Isaiah, a skilled carpenter, Daniel, a mason, and Paul, who helped the other local fundis. Maureen, the daughter of Esinas was chief cook, supplying food to us all. Pauline, an elderly widow came to church on Sunday and was so astonished to find the windows and doors on and the roof going up, that she stayed the rest of the week supporting us by bringing us porridge each day. Another brought fresh roasted maize(corn) and another sweet potatoes and tea as snacks to encourage the workers. Pamela and I also removed and stacked up all the loose bricks that had been put in the windows to discourage vandalism, some women brought water and bricks and Pamela with the kids collected some brightly colored flowering Coreopsis flowers to plant around the building. Others joined the children in supplying materials to the fundis or retrieving dropped nails.

I had to go every day into town to collect money from the ATM (there is a limit of how much money can be withdrawn each day from any bank- around $180 a day). Pamela escorted me to travel all the way back to Migori, Kenya one day to collect a loan of money that had been sent from Kenya to my phone to enable us to complete the work quickly. At the border, the local agent caused my phone to jam. It was a miracle to find the Safaricom phone company was open on the 1st of January (and they closed right as we were finishing!) There we found out that border agent had taken out my sim card and inserted his- trying to get the money on his phone illegally, but the Migori official was able to get my phone back up and working and give me the money. That day we walked a lot of long distances in hot sun, as the usual matatus and buses were on holiday. A cold shower at the end of the day, was very refreshing.

We also made all the arrangements for buying the supplies needed and were able to make it stretch to complete the job. Later the floor will need to be finished (at least it is dry and not muddy anymore) and they plan to get a latrine dug and prepared in time for our Sunday School Teacher training the end of the month.

We had to ask for special prayers for safety as in Tanzania, they used a dozen men to lift up the heavy tresses onto the top of the building- without building the two end walls up to the top of the roof. As they mounted the rafters and put on the iron sheets it was scary to watch. (especially as a New Englander who has known people who have fallen off the slippery roofs in winter). Mama Maria and Eileen held all of us in prayer throughout. The last day, we finished hammering in the last few nails on the roof just as darkness was coming and there was some lightning flashing. We also took the few extra iron sheets and made our own ridge caps.

The last night we stayed up until almost midnight as each person shared their joy of finishing the work, explained the history of the church and their part in it, and thanked each other for their assistance. The young person shared how now she was no longer ashamed to be part of the “neglected” church and was eager to invite others to join. Daniel Kitendani stopped by to introduce Peter, whom Tanzania Yearly Meeting had just appointed as new pastor to Tarime Peter had formerly started Kigereshi Meeting, one of the new churches near Mwanza. Now Tarime Friends are starting the new year with a new leader and a new building-a great way to start the new year with much joy.

It was a challenge finding seats in any public vehicle on the way today since many students were travelling back to schools that opened today. (Many high schools are boarding schools}. We were glad to return to Kenya that is less hot.

Thanks for all your support and messages.