July: we spent some good time in Kenya, visiting friends and reconnecting a bit w/ Nairobi before we moved on, to our branch conference on the Kenyan coast. The Conference, too, was a great time to connect with our colleagues and whats going on with our organization. After 10 days or so in Watamu, we traveled back to Tanzania. In a short 3 day journey we made it to Mbeya, Junio’s birth town. This is where we have been camping out since the evening of the 16th of July. The night we arrived in Mbeya, and tried to settle a bit in a house of on of our colleagues who is on furlough, we were terrorized by rats. The came in through open windows and holes in the windows (which we found the next morning), and ran over the top of our beds, and generally prevented any sound resting to occur our first night in Mbeya. After duct-taping the windows the next morning, the rats did not return, though we continued to have mice for the next week or so. We had some friends bring some “mouse killing stuff.” They said it was deadly for Rats/mice but not for any other living thing, and eventually after several days the mice ate it and ran around the house “drunk” and then were scooped and thrown outside to die. We also got a cat. This happened while I (Jeremy) was gone on a trip to Mpanda. I left two days after arriving in Mbeya. I traveled there with several of my colleagues to attend a meeting of the Advisory committee for the new project in Mpanda. We also spent several days looking for houses and suitable spaces for offices. I was very encouraged in what we found. We have secured two houses for our team, and we are trying to secure and finish a house that I was interested in for my family. This could be finalized on the tuesday (09.08.11).
Mpanda is just as I remember it. A warm bustly little town, with lots of dust. It is quite a melting pot of folks from all over TZ and the west of East Africa. The power was pretty good, the mobile phone coverage was alright, the mobile phone internet was of so slow it was next to unusable. One can get cheap produce and basic TZ food stuffs there, but nothing special or imported. The vehicle of choice for those select few who have or use motorized vehicles is a Landcruiser hardtop. There are a number of small motorbikes and a few bajajis as well. The people are generally quite friendly. One exciting thing we witnessed was a significant effort to pave and improve the airstrip just outside of town. It is several kms long and about 3/4s paved, pretty amazing. I’d love to have not forgotten my camera.
The Advisory Committee (Kamati ya Ushauri) for this new Bible Translation project is a really great group of Bishops and Pastors from Mpanda, representing a good sample of the denominations in and around Mpanda. They have been enormously helpful and encouraging to us as we seek to put a team on the ground in Mpanda, and start this new work. I, for one, am excited to keep working with these men, ranging from Catholic to Pentecostal to Lutheran & Anglican. Please pray for them they are all quite busy and important men, and struggle to have enough time in there day to do all that God is putting on their plates.
After about a week in Mpanda, I returned to my family in Mbeya, and tried to settle myself there. My family quite well while I was away, taking care of the mice and things by themselves. Jamie and the kids got plugged into the various networks they have here, and began to find all the places to get food and things to live here. On returning, I was able to get into the office here in Mbeya and try to some things established and questions asked and answered regarding logistics and administration of our setup in Mpanda. The Mbeya project here serves 9 language communities around Mbeya town and has been around for 7 or 8 years, I think. TO BE CONTINUED.