Marian Baker

From Board Member Marian Baker: More news of Tanzania

It is a joy to have fellow travelling ministers who work together as a team like sisters.

On the 20th of February, it rained heavily and we quickly put out all the pails and basins we had to collect rain water. Then I walked up the hill to Ebwambwa High School- no dust on the road for a change! I met with the students in the Christian Union and we planned who would lead each part of the World Day of Prayer. I will meet with them again on Thursday to practice and make final preparations. I handed out flyers with a letter to each pastor of each church, which the students will deliver to their home churches. (Ebwambwa is a mixed (coed) day school.)

Roselyn Amugune came to Elizabeth’s for the night so we could get an early start to travel to Tanzania the next day. It turned out both Roselyn and Elizabeth had attended the same Catholic primary (elementary) school so they had fun reminiscing and we ended the evening singing many songs in different languages- all with three-part harmony. Agneta Injairu had planned to come but she was late handing out the seed and fertilizer for the One Acre Fund project that she coodinates, and then got caught in the heavy rain. Instead, she packed late into the night, and got a motorcycle ride to Kakamega that arrived at 7am (the first hour of daylight). We took a mug of hot tea to her to warm up, and began our journey to Tanzania. We arrived in Tarime, Tanzania around 2:30PM and were warmly welcomed by Esinas Mwita the host (and clerk of the local meeting). Just after the Tanzanians who were coming for the Sunday School teacher training all arrived, the first rain after a long drought poured heavily and we sang and danced joyfully considering the rain as a shower of blessings.

The next morning as Agneta and Roselyn began training the teachers they found that most had not brought or kept their notes from last year, so they ended up reviewing the previous year’s notes as well as covered the second year’s level of training. Here, the notes taken by students become the text book from which the teachers can train others. (Without a textbook, what can a teacher teach?) We also had several new teachers to train, but we were glad they were eager enough to learn quickly and catch up to the others. They all were able to pass the examination we had given except two, whom we will train to be teachers since they were the only ones representing their local church, but we will not let them become trainers of others.

One day, one of the older women spoke sternly to everyone to get up early and help out in food preparation and cleaning and water fetching. She assigned all the boys and men the task of washing all the dishes. One of the men later shared it was his first time to ever wash dishes (usually a woman’s job in African culture), and that now he thought he might help out his wife occasionally. All the women cheered for him.

The last day, all the teachers decided to form a national committee of Sunday School teachers. We then carefully explained what kind of person is needed to be a good leader, a coordinator, a treasurer, secretary etc. We were delighted that they chose Catherine Makena from Kebesonga to be the coordinator. She has gifts in organization and works well with children. Then the treasurer chosen was Collins Ochieng, a Luo man from Mugumu who is trained as an accountant. Being from a different family and tribe than either of the founding members of the church helps ensure that all funds are used only for the Sunday School and not be released into the hands of some of the other YM leaders who have misused funds in the past. The secretary was a high school student from Borega. Their pastor is Dorcas Otieno, from Mwanza. They also chose assistants to each position and on the spot raised some 7,000/- to give the treasurer to get started. They ended up with a good balance of age, both women and men and with someone from each area of the country. Immediately that committee sat down to begin to plan out the next teacher’s training and how they would work together as a team to encourage Sunday schools in the country. Amazing progress!
In the afternoon, we all divided into several small groups and walked around the neighborhood of Tarime Friends Church to invite neighbors to come to the church that is right nearby or send their children. The church is the one known for not having a roof (due to a court case that has wasted a lot of money). The six active members of the church guided us where to go. I was surprised to find many cows around (yet they don’t seem to use the milk), and many ducks around instead of chickens. (This part of Tanzania is usually quite hot and dry- not duck friendly).
In the evening, we handed out certificates to all. The ones who didn’t pass got certificates that they had attended, while the others got ones of completion of level II training. The printers had written Certificate of Appreciation by mistake, so we were able to give certificates of appreciation to the three local women who had hosted and cooked for us. We all rejoiced and sang, and laughed together over a very successful training.

The next morning, those of us who had a long distance to travel took off early, while a few stayed to help out Tarime with their Sunday school and service that morning. On the way between the border and Migori, we got in a van that was supposed to go direct to Homa Bay and Kisumu. Each time the driver shifted gears he ground the gears badly (an inexperienced driver or a bad transmission?). We refused to continue with them so they very reluctantly and quickly, dropped us off on the main street a distance after the bus stage of Migori. In the confusion, our bag of food had fallen out of sight in the vehicle and was found missing as they took off in haste. The bag unfortunately also contained my air mattress that didn’t fit into the regular bags. One joyful note was that in their haste they dropped us off very close to the bank where I could get money from the ATM there. The second vehicle we boarded to Kisumu promised to be direct and express, but stopped at every village along the way and took close to 6 hours instead of the usual 3 to reach hot Kisumu. We were glad to arrive in Kakamega safely before it got dark. I enjoyed the cup of milky Kenyan chai and piece of Eileen’s birthday cake that I had received on my way home, when I stopped to deliver two fine meshed mosquito nets that are like a tent with a zipper that she had sent me to buy in Tanzania.

Thanks for your prayers. We could not have travelled safely without them.