Quite a lot has happened since our last blog. We’ve been in Mwanza for about a week and I think we’re settling quite well into life here. I think it’s a good fit for us. It definitely has a very different feel to Iringa – a much more tropical environment. It’s quite a lot warmer, there are lots of coconut trees, and with the lake it has potential to look like a holiday destination! The lake is not really used for swimming, at least not around here. There is the risk of bilharzia, which you can get from swimming in fresh water lakes, but there also just doesn’t seem to be much of a tourist industry around here. The lake offers the more important commercial purpose of fishing. The local delicacy – a fresh water fish called Tilapia, is delicious. We previously lived in Malawi, which also has a large fresh water lake, so eating Tilapia brings back fond memories, and we’ve been looking forward to indulging!
The children seem to have adapted well to the new setting. I think it helps, that for now at least, they’ve had us around a lot. They’ve enjoyed being shipped off to various people while we study Swahili, but it’s nice for them to have a bit more time with us too. They’ve tolerated the various meetings this week, mostly because our fellow EI missionaries in Mwanza have an 11 year old daughter called Louisa, who has taken them very much under her wing. They’ve loved playing with her lots throughout the week.
This week we’ve spent quite a bit of time with Tim Monger, learning about how EI operates here in Mwanza. We’ve also met with various other members of the Mwanza team. We were able to attend the annual Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG) Conference. EI works with the Anglican Church in Iringa, but with TAG up here, so that’s quite different too. We were able to introduce ourselves (briefly in Swahili and then some more details with the help of a translator) to the TAG pastors who attended the conference and also had a brief meeting with the local Bishop and the deputy Archbishop of TAG. They were very supportive and it was great to have been able to introduce ourselves. We also met a couple of the local pastors who work on Kome Island. I think they were excited about having us come and support them and we were really pleased to meet them too. Especially as one of them spoke good English!
We are well and truly house-hoppers at the moment. We are staying in a house that belongs to some missionaries who are on home assignment. We’ll be here for around two months, and then we’ll be moving into the house of some missionaries who will be leaving. We’ve been able to see the new house and have a think about some of the things that we’d like to have done to it before we move in.
This week we’ve also met with Doctor Bernard Makori and Doctor Isaac. Bernard is the man who has set up the Rural Island health project and Isaac mans the mobile clinic on Kome. It was brilliant to finally meet them both and have them over for lunch. Isaac has managed to secure a rented house for us on Kome, so we used the opportunity to see some photos and sign the contract. Very exciting. We plan to base ourselves in Mwanza, but need a house there for use during our time on the Island. We needed somewhere away from the hubbub and a safe, child friendly environment. There are definitely a few things needing doing to the property. We are going to start with the most important things. We plan to put glass in the windows – as you can get a lot of dust, noise etc without. This definitely sounds like a good plan to me. Ceiling boards beneath the corrugated iron roof. This apparently helps avoid dealing with bats in the night. Mosquito nets on the windows and door and new locks. For the future we’ll think about perhaps putting something around the perimeter of the property. We’ll judge this closer to the time. We also need to have some furniture made eg beds. If we get some furniture in Mwanza, apparently we can send things across on the passenger ferry, and Isaac will receive them the other end. It would be good to support the local handymen though if there’s anything that can be made on Kome. The house has electricity, which is nice. Who knows how reliable it will be though! It doesn’t have water, so we’ll have to come up with an arrangement to collect lake water. The village have suggested a local lady to help with these sorts of tasks.
We’re planning our first visit to Kome at the end of the month, when we’ll stay for a few days. We’ll arrange a later visit after that. Tim has also managed to arrange some more Swahili lessons, to make up for the hours we weren’t able to complete in Iringa. We’ll do a day each a week for a month, starting the end of the month.
It’s all getting exciting. Prayers appreciated for us to continue settling in well. That our Swahili would improve at a miraculous rate! And that those in Kome would be ready to receive us and that we’d have wisdom in how we move forward.