Welcome to Tanzania

18 09 2012

Welcome to Go Kingdom. The purpose of this site is to share my experiences and Gods work here in Tanzania. My partners in Kenya are planting house churches and baptizing new believers every week. I am in that initial phase of getting started that i am told typically takes three months. I am praying and working to shorten that number.

I have been bless to work with my Brother Marc Carrier in Kenya and see and serve first hand in his fruitful work. I can’t tell you how encouraging it was to share the Gospel going door to door with new African brothers and seeing the lost come to Jesus. They were baptized , some the same day and folded into discipleship with seasoned believers.

Needless to say it makes restless to get settled here in Tanzania and get underway. I am blessed with a wonderfully host family to stay with during this process and a location to retreat to when needed. Please pray for my progress in moving forward, a wonderful and committed translator and the funding needed for the bibles and materials we will use. My awesome church family, Island Community Church, is providing my basic expenses so all gifts go directly to ministry need in the field. Please follow this blog, support this ministry and enjoy the updates. I can promise you it will be exciting.

Your brother in Africa,



Coconuts, Crows and African Time

18 09 2012

Some things in Africa are simple adjustments, others surprises and of course some are almost beyond my  comprehension.  One thing that is puzzling here is time.  Time is basically kept in 24 hour increments.  Well  sort of. 24 hours really divided into sections like 1 hour after Sunrise 3 hours after Sunrise, after noon literally, afternoon figuratively and then after dark.  The day starts at sunrise.  Now that makes sense but as we all know that is not a constant.  The sun actually rises at a different time every single day.  So when you tell someone to meet you at say 10:AM in normal Western vernacular, you are actually telling them to meet you four hours after the sun comes up.  Plus don’t forget we count the hour the sun comes up as the first hour.  If you wear a watch, like I do, then when your watch says 10:AM it will seldom actually be the fourth hour after sunrise.  And of course no one that wears a watch and sets it by the sun rising.  Maybe  that explains why the call to prayer at the Mosque down the street is constantly starting 10 to 20 minutes off the hour. What it does not explain is the African explanation of time and distance.  It has been a common experience here to ask someone in the midst of a journey, how much longer to our destination.  Anyone with children knows this is an important travel question.  The answers I typically get are  “not long”,” 15 minutes” or “we are almost there”.  Now these answers have absolutely no bearing on where you are verses where you are going or  when you will arrive.  I have decided that what they actually are is something quite different.  To the African mind in the travel mode, you are asking for hope.   Hope that you will in fact arrive.  And in order to give you hope they give you an answer that will inspire hope and relieve you from immediate worry and stress.  And I must say for the first time or two someone told me I had just 15 minutes till my destination I was relieved of the stress of riding in a crowded matatu or dala dala, (bus) with the chickens crammed together in full body contact with more humans than I thought could get in a bus.  However, after two hours pass and you ask again and they still say 15 minutes the stress relieving effects are greatly diminished.  Then you begin to feel the frustration of impending insanity and a fear that not only is this trip taking too long but it will possibly never end.  I know this is irrational for me to feel this way, but in a strange sarcastic mindset I am reminded of that Greek tale of Sisypus pushing the  immense stone up the hill, working so hard but never actually completing his task. Distance is much the same.  For two days as I journeyed from Nairobi to Kitale then later from Kiminini to some village who’s name I have forgotten I was constantly told  when I asked the question of how much further,  30 kilometers.   Sometimes this is really great.  Because remember on a long trip, at some point you are in fact 30 kilometers away.  Then there are those wonderful occasions where someone tells you it is 30 kilometers to the destination and you find yourself there in 10 minutes in rush hour traffic.  But as you might already be guessing, those experiences are few and far between.  Once again, most people assume you want assurance, what your are really needing is hope, so they tell you 30 kilometers, even when you are clearly 90 kilometers away.  Such is reality in Africa. The crows, however, are  consistent in their presence ,but  a puzzle to me in their actions until the other day.  First  you need to understand they are the size of the typical American  eagle.  They are huge.  And I live in a home with a tin roof.  Frequently as the sunrises, these flying beast decide to get on the roof right over my head and vie for some territorial advantage.  They shove each other and caw at each other.  Their big  feet or talons slide and click on the tin roof making a sound like drunken tap dancers.  Occasionally these seemingly inebriated performance artist actually knock each other off their feet and their heavy bodies thump against the tin.  But yesterday they took things to a new level.  They began bowling over my head.  Yes bowling.  We eat coconuts here quite a bit.  Not coconuts by themselves, but rather rice, beans and many other foods cooked with coconut.  They are actually much better with some coconut in them.  It really adds flavor, changes the consistency and mouth feel.  Trust me it is great you should try it.  But we don’t get it in neat packages at Kroger.  No, someone somewhere climbs a tree and gets a coconut. The ladies here spends 20 minutes getting the husk off, ( did you know coconuts had a husk?), you see it takes work to get to the hard shell to even begin to get to the wonderful filling and juice or milk.  So when the process is complete you have two hard coconut shell halves.  Now we don’t have garbage pick up here.  I see burned spots in the yard so at some point we burn things to get rid of them.  So husk are simply lying around.  I had noticed coconut shells on the roofs of houses as I looked out the window at houses further down the hill.  I had assumed some mischievous children had thrown them up there.  Nope, it was the crows.  Yesterday I actually saw these crows flying around with coconut halves in their mouths.  Solving the, who is bowling on my roof mystery.  No strikes, no spares just rolling and fighting over the remnants of the white insides of these coconut halves.   Now I know why we have heavy bars on the windows.  I was at first worried that I was in a high crime area.  Now I understand.  The danger of sailing coconuts could come at any time.  I figure the next one will be here in about 15 minutes.  And it could be traveling at 30 kilometers an hour.  And that will happen at exactly 7:AM  or rather at saa moja asubuhi.  The first hour after Sunrise.  If you have a watch on then that will be 7:AM give or take the veritable changes in  the equinox.  You will know when it is here. Thirty minutes before the call to prayer will begin at the mosque, then right on the money the bowing begins.

My Mom Would Not Approve

11 09 2012

When I was in Africa last year, my friend Stefan got onto me for being a bit too bold in getting out of the car in the Serengeti and stumbling on some hippos and crocs.  Now between the two you have to know that you really don’t want to mess with hippos.  More people are killed by hippos than any other animal in Africa.  Stefan said, “your mother would not be happy with you right now”, in his wonderful German accent.  You can read that story on this blog, I think it is titled “Almost and African Accident”.

I frequently think of other things my mom might have commented on during my life in America, that are a regular part of living in Africa now.  The first that comes to mind is eating with my fingers.  Well, that is simply the way it is done around here, but not at the Roseberry house growing up.  I have even been taught by my host Mzray, how to roll ugali up in my hand like a little golf ball and then punch a dent in it so I can scoop juice from other foods into it.  And all this is done with ONLY the right hand.  The next is baths.  Let’s just say I don’t take them very regularly anymore.  They are a treat now and not a regular daily occurrence.  I do shave every other day whether I need it or not.

Growing up if you opened the milk carton, yes milk was in cartons back then, and the milk was sour and especially if it had chunks in it you poured it out with a turned up nose.  Here it is a delicacy called Mtendi.  I have gotten use to it.  It seems to be the only milk I can get cold regularly.  Maybe they just save the spoiled milk for Mzungus.  But I don’t think so.  The locals love it too.  But I can’t help but wonder where the fresh milk is.  No matter, none of it is homogenized, so who  is to say which is better or safer.

Jogging here probably has a higher risk factor than bull fighting in Mexico.  Whereas my mother never forbid running the locals are horrified that I am running on these treacherous roads.  They are hilly, sandy, and shared with bikes, motorcycles, walkers, buses, cars, tuk tuks and the occasional donkey. And just so you understand the vehicles have total ride of way and there are almost NO pedestrian walk ways except on large four lanes roads and even then vehicles frequently charge down them to save a few seconds.  And yes even there they have the ride away.  They are nice enough to honk at you rather loudly if they are about to hit you or scare you to death to give you a deer in the headlights chance at living to fear another day on the roads.

Then there are the obvious things that folks in the mission field do that moms warned their little boys about all their lives.  Don’t talk to strangers, and don’t go into “that” part of town.  Needless to say “that” part of town is exactly where I want to be.  That is where the least of these reside.

So I grin almost every day thinking of all the things I do that my mother would never have approved of when I was growing up.  Just don’t tell her.  I may be 55 now, but every little boy has to keep some secrets.

Leaping Lizards and Electric Fly Swatters

5 09 2012

You learn to live with the fact that there is very different wildlife issues here in Africa.  Now I am in a large city working on the last few details to getting my visa in hand and launching out.  So you would think that the animal issues would be rather minor and that is true.  In Kenya we did have to chase the monkeys away to pick cherries, but the lizards were docile and cute.  Here in Tanzania, not so much.  On my last visit I learned to share the “choo” or outdoor toilet with as many as 5 lizards that we would call huge by American standards.  These 18” fat  lizards resembled Iguanas except they were brilliant in color and that means colors as bright as pink and electric blue, sometimes on the same lizard.  So much for blending in with the environment. The only place they could “blend in” would be a “head shop” in the 1970’s.

I am struggling with a new breed of lizard and now these small and sneaky mosquitoes.  But I have my electric tennis racket zapper.  Right from China this device looks like a cheap tennis racket with a type of Nike shwoosh on it.  Instead of being covered in cat gut, or what ever type of string we use now days on our tennis rackets, this evil little weapon has wire mesh.  You flick a switch and watch out.  This high powered beauty will literally ignite a mosquito, no matter how small into an inferno of bug matter that resembles a flaming comet as it launches across the room.  Why if you were 7 years old you could have a ball running around the back yard in the banana trees zapping everything in sight.  Not that I have done that mind you.  But one can dream.

Last night on my way to the choo in a stretch of the veranda leading to that area that is well lit,  I noticed some decent sized lizards.  But, no worries,  we have a kind of don’t ask don’t tell thing going one here.  We basically ignore each other.  Besides these lizards are smaller.  Just as I was approaching the door to the choo this little dude launches right at me.  I could not believe the little dude was going to attack me in the middle of the night for seemingly simply walking past him.  Before I had hardly the time to react he had somehow NOT landed on me and had returned to the wall he launched from with a huge ugly moth in his mouth.  Evidently I was being shadowed by this huge winged beast and the lizard simply could not pass up the opportunity.  Even though to the uninitiated ,the leap at me, an innocent bystander, was clearly a breach in our unspoken but clearly understood peace agreement.  This threatening action, while now  justified by the actual capture of the moth, a creature not covered under said treaty, reminds me of how tenuous and fragile my imaginary truce with nature can be.  I will keep this in mind when I am closer to the Serengeti where the truce between me and carnivores is not defined and may  need special consideration.