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Africa Inland Mission
September 28, 2016 1:29 am
Published in: Ministry Life

When I arrived in Tanganyika (‘56!), I was assigned to live 0n Kijima Station with my parents. My mother was to be my language teacher – she probably knew it would be a “easy job” since I grew up out there and used a lot more kiSukuma that I should have – even had to disciplined for some of the things I said. My little African companions prided themselves getting me to say some things that even they wouldn’t use in mixed conversation!

After my folks moved from the station and I was living alone (I was still single; awaiting my “bride to be” to arrive), I was given the oversight of about 36 area church primary schools. This was before we were moved to Salawe.

I was responsible f58nkonzeor the maintenance and repair of mainly mud-brick (and grass roof) classrooms and teacher’s houses, make sure the teachers had the supplies they needed, encourage them in their teaching of the Bible classes and, most importantly (to them!) pay their salaries. All this involved a lot of travel throughout the year, in dry seasons and in the deluges of the rainy seasons. Though it was tiring, it was a time of real joy and often there was an evangelist there near the church who was in charge of the local church. It was a blessing to see, and often experience, what the Lord was doing.

Though much time and effort was spent in “mundane” activities, it was great to be part of the team, missionary and African national, serving our Savior. From many of these church schools, students progress on up through secondary school and some even to University. Many came to serve the Lord in church leadership; many became part of the life of the church in different areas. Scripture tells us that He will “build My church” – it was wonderful to be part of that “building” that continues to the present. PRAY FOR THE CHURCH IN TANZANIA.

September 21, 2016 5:29 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Baobab Tree near Shinyanga

If you travel much around the general region central Tanzania, you can’t help but notice the huge baobab trees which dot the countryside. They seem to stand as bleak sentinels, forever keeping watch over everything that happens. Again, they usually are HUGE but if you look carefully you will see varying sizes. It’s interesting, though, I have never seen one sprouting or even real small.

I guess this fact gives some credence to what many Sukuma say about that tree. “God was angry with them and just threw them to the ground. They ended up “planted” upside down, with their roots in the air”. I guess this comes from the fact that most of the year they seem to be leaf-less; just barren branches reaching upward.

The tree itself is basically useless. No use for firewood. No use for lumber. An unsuspecting logger may dream about the lumber he could harvest but that would be a pipe-dream. The tree is fibrous, consists basically of an ever expanding trunk and is hollow inside. In fact the word was that during WWI, when the Germans were fighting to hold onto Tanganyika, they cut an opening into the trunk of some trees and used the hollow inside as ammunition dumps to keep the stores from detection. I wonder what it would have been like if the English had scored a direct cannon hit on one of those trees!

But, the tree did have some use. Following its brief flowering/leafing period, it produced seed pods that, when dried, produced a sour powder-type pith which surrounded the seeds. The Sukuma used that to give flavor to their corn meal porridge (nghomba/uji). I remember my mother (I grew up in Tanganyika, my folks were missionaries there) using that pith powder, mixed with baking soda (I forget the proportions), as a substitute for cream-of-tarter for her baking. WWII brought a lot of shortages to East Africa.

Also, further out on the plains, the elephants seemed to love those trees. With their ivory tusks they would gouge out patches from the trunk of the tree. From it they seemed to get both fibre and moisture. And, though most of the trees survived, some were well scarred from all that gouging. Some trees, though,
had too much gouging and died, seemingly “melting” as a mass to the ground.

Another plus from the tree is that, because it was basically hollow, if an opening into that hollow was made (from a branch breaking off?), African honey-bees found their way in and established a hive. Many trees had pegs pounded into them to allow folks to climb up to where a hive was in order to collect that sweet bounty. But one had to be careful. If there was an opening, snakes also could find their way in – and there were a lot of venomous snakes around! The Sukuma concept was that the only good snake was a dead snake! Some also believe the bones were poisonous and made sure that a “dead snake” was buried deeply!!

September 17, 2016 10:32 pm
Published in: Ministry Life

We had moved to another station and I was involved in a lot of construction. Of course, being an “out area”, there was no such thing as electricity or running water – except what we generated or “ran” with!

Because I had been loaned a planer and table saw which, when used together at the same time, proved too much for my little gas-powered Briggs&Stratton generator, I decided a larger one was needed. Gifts for its purchase had been provided and held in my account in the Brooklyn Mission office pending my purchase.

Lehman Brothers was the company which sold Petter diesel stationary engines. I decided to purchase one and hook it up with drive belts to a larger army-surplus generator I had. Lehman’s had the engine in stock; my funds were in the USA. The manager of the company told me to take the engine and pay whenever the funds became available. Thank you; I did so – put the engine and generator on a strong skid base and it proved worth its weight in “gold” – tho I did have to stake it to keep it from moving while in use! Later I bolted it onto a concrete base.

BUT, the funds from the USA did not arrive as planned. First month; second month; third month! Still the Mission did not respond by sending the funds out. Since, over the months, I continued to purchase other things from that company, it became an embarrassment to go in there knowing I still owed them for the engine. Finally I decided I needed to speak to the manager. I went into his office and explained the whole situation. His answer stunned – and challenged – me. He said, “I have learned that any debt a missionary of the Africa Inland Mission has with me can be counted on it as ‘money in the bank’. Pay when you are able”.

Wow! A load off my shoulders but, beyond that, a testimony of the reputation of many missionaries over the years. No way was I going to fail. In fact, within about a week the funds arrived from the USA and I was able to deliver full payment directly to the manager. An incident like this, in the early days of my mission ministry, served to underline not only our Lord’s faithfulness and provision but also my need for integrity and openness in all my dealings with others. Our (MY!) testimony before others MUST honor the Lord my Saviour. Always.

September 9, 2016 3:37 pm
Published in: Ministry Life

Ah! Travel in Tanzania had its challenges. Corrugated dirt roads; high (deep) water; mud, mud, and more mud (during the rains) dust, dust and more dust (during the dry season)!; cattle on the road; people trying to flag you down, hoping for a ride; bicycles, lorries (trucks) that don’t want to move over; dumb sheep on one side of the road which suddenly decide the other side is better.

At that time I had a Volks Beetle. A trip was being taken to go to another mission station and, besides my wife, two other missionary ladies were with us in the car. For some reason, it was almost sundown as were going along. Up ahead, on a long stretch of clear road, I saw a vehicle parked off to the side. Several men were milling around it. As we got closer, they moved out onto the road and tried to wave me down so I stopped. Their report was that they had run out of petrol (gasoline) and wanted to know if I had any extra.

I did have a jerrycan of petrol which was in the luggage area of the VW. And you know that the luggage area is up front, under the bonnet (hood) of a VW Beetle. I hadn’t told them yet that I had some fuel but, as we were talking through the driver’s-side window, I noticed several men had moved into position both in front and in back of the VW. I was sure they were up to something.

Quickly I closed the window and locked the door. I put the car in gear and slowly moved forward, pushing the men in front aside. They hammered on the top of the car as I gather speed but I kept on going and left them all behind. As I got clear of them and down the road a bit I looked into my rear view mirror and saw them get back into their vehicle, turn it around, and start up the road in the direction from which I had just come. It was evident they didn’t really need any petrol and were probably up to “no good”!

But, dear softhearted Margaret in the backseat said, “Why didn’t you give them any gas?” It took a lot of explanation, plus some support from other occupants of the car who had noticed the happenings, to convince her that I had done the right thing – and that the Lord our God had again protected us from what appeared to be the actions of evil men.

September 5, 2016 4:04 am
Published in: Uncategorized

The Land Rover was running great and I returned home in time for supper. I had been a good day, visiting several area church primary schools and local evangelists. I parked the vehicle and called it a day.

The next day I was to go on another trip. The Land Rover wouldn’t start. Oh, it turned over O.K. but would not fire at all. Thinking it was a fuel problem, I had an African workman step on the starter while I held my hand over the carburetor input to try and ‘suck’ petrol (gasoline) into the system. But, instead of suction, the carburetor ‘blew back’ at me. What?? I went to the back of the vehicle and put my hand over the exhaust pipe opening and found suction there! What?? Double What?? Intake=exhaust; Exhaust=intake!!! Timing is way off.

Big job! Radiator removed; fan removed; timing cover removed.  That series of Land Rover used a chain & sprocket system for the timing. The chain was loose and, on removing it, I found that the  hydraulic tensioner had developed a pin-hole in it allowing the hydraulic pressure to escape. The timing had completely reversed in the process, probably while trying to start it that morning.

As a temporary fix, I drilled the pin-hole larger and hammered in a copper rivet which sealed it. I put everything back together and it seemed everything was now O.K. and the vehicle ran fine. But, just in case, I tried to get a new tensioner – but none was available in either Tanzania or Kenya. I had to order one all the way from England – and that took close to 2 months before it arrived.

I never put the new part in. The Land Rover kept running for several more years with my copper rivet in the tensioner. When I sold the vehicle about 4 years later, before we came to the USA on leave, I passed on the new tensioner to the purchaser. There really is no use doing another ‘repair’ that really wasn’t needed!

August 30, 2016 3:08 am
Published in: Evangelism

I was out in the “backwoods of everywhere”, on an evangelistic safari. Richard, my mentor in evangelism when I first arrived on the field, had assigned me that area and selectedEvangSafari 3 (I believe) African evangelists to accompany me. In fact, they did most of the preaching – I provided the transportation, kept the public address system working and, on the p.a. system phonograph (this was back in the mid-50s!), played Gospel Recording songs in the local Sukuma language. I jacked the volume ‘way up to draw folks from the surrounding villages.

In this one area they really came to see what was happening. Young and old. Men and women. They seemed to really enjoy the music. As I watched the crowd more intently, I saw a number of the older folks seemingly singing along. At least they seemed to be mouthing the words.

But that night after that evangelistic meeting, I mentioned to the evangelists who were with me what I had seen. Since the assumption was that this was a new unreached area, how come some of them seemed to know the words of the songs being played on the phonograph?

The answer given was that these folks, years ago, had moved through the forests and across the swamps from the area around the Kijima mission station. Since that station had been there since the “dark ages” and many “out churches/bush churches” had been planted in that area, the older people had come into the hearing of the Gospel. They had later moved to find better pastures for their livestock and gardens, raised families there and now our evangelistic meeting was evoking memories of what they left behind. Those older folks were not “unreached” in the strict sense, just ones who had been “unresponsive” to what they had heard.

I do not remember the response to the preaching that day. I do know that when we were moved o58AfChBujoraut to that general area a number of years later to establish a Mission Station, a “bush church” had been established several miles from where we had held that evangelistic meeting. An older man, Petro, who had little education beyond 3rd grade but who knew the Lord was the shepherd of the congregation. I can only pray that some of them from that meeting and who accepted the Lord that day, formed the foundation of the church that was now established there at Nkinga.

August 23, 2016 4:58 am
Published in: Ministry Life

We were living in Salawe, ‘way out’ beyond the forest, across 3 cotton-soil swamps that were murder during the rains! I was coming home from Mwanza, our closest town about 70 miles away, with a load of building supplies in my Land Rover. It had rained. The swamps were very muddy but, because it was the early rains, were not impassable. I had safely come through the first 2 swamps. That is where a 4-wheel drive shines!

The 3rd swamp was now the challenge. I plowed on through the mud and half-way through heard a loud thump. It seemed to come from the back of the vehicle and kept repeating itself as I made my way across the rest of the swamp.

I stopped when I got to the other side and inspected under the vehicle. Oil was dripping out of a crack in the differential housing. Something was wrong in there but this was not the place to attempt major repairs. I had a bar of “yellow soap” (the gummy, local stuff) which I used to rub into the crack to stop the flow of the leak. I continue on my way. By hit and miss, I found that if I kept my speed below about 5 mph I could keep moving without the clunking in the rear. It took forever going those last 8 miles to the station but we made it.

You guessed it. The next day saw me under the Land Rover, jacking up the rear, disconnecting the drive shaft, pulling out the axles (they were ‘floating axles’) and taking the cover off the differential. Pieces of metal flowed out with the rest of the oil. When I removed the gears, I found that one of the teeth on the ring gear had sheared off. The pinion gear was slightly damaged but, I guess, by keeping my speed low those last 8 miles, the sheared off tooth from the ring gear wasn’t ‘stirred up’ in the remaining differential oil and thus didn’t cause more difficulty.

So, a new ring gear and pinion was needed – and that was at least 70 miles away and my vehicle was dead! What to do? I wrapped up the damaged gears in burlap, hired an African to go by bicycle the 35 miles to the main road and catch a vehicle going to town and to go to Schumann’s Garage (the Land Rover dealer) and show them the old and ask for new replacements. Of course I sent a letter with him! It was about 2 days before he returned and it took another day or two for me to get the new parts in, weld up the crack in the housing and get the vehicle running again.

And next time I went to town one of my first stops was at the garage to settle my bill. It was great that the Mission and its missionaries had such a reputation that services could be rendered with the assurance all debts would be promptly paid. Again, a testimony of God’s grace through the faithfulness of His servants over many years.

August 16, 2016 9:53 pm
Published in: Ministry Life

God’s grace and protection are often things we take for granted – then appreciate in retrospect. I guess that is my confession for things that happened during our 35+ missionary years in Tanzania and Kenya.

I had to attend a medical board meeting at KolaNdoto, about 75 miles by road from where we lived in Mwanza. It was to be a 1-day meeting and, as expected, the return was after sundown. Several missionary nurses from the hospital asked to ‘hitch’ a ride on the return to Mwanza. The Land Rover was a SWB (Short Wheel Base) vehicle and now had four people in it. Fortunately only personal belongings were the loads.

About 8 miles from Kola Ndoto, along the main road, was a small ‘town’ called Maganzo. Being close to the Mwadui diamond mines, with a mix of peoples, shady characters, vice and unfulfilled expectations, it was a place where crime abounded. No one in their right mind would visit the town much after dark! We weren’t going to visit – just pass by at 50 mph on the road.

Just as we cleared the town, a vehicle pulled out up ahead and went up in the same direction we were going. As I got closer to it and could see it better through the dust, I saw it was a lorry (truck) full of men in the back. As I got closer, it pulled off the road, stopped and most of the men jumped down and swarmed out onto the road, trying to stop us. No way was I going to stop at that time of night! I knew they were not seeking help; I was certain they were up to ‘no good’.AfRd

And I was right! Though I had to go off the road to miss the men, as I drove by I saw the men running and getting back into the lorry. Its headlights came back on and it came fast up the road following us, obviously trying to catch us.

I stepped on the gas. My passengers questioned why I was going so fast on that bumpy dirt road but I didn’t want to let them know there may be danger behind us. The lorry got closer and closer and, on that narrow road, I wove from side to side to keep it from coming alongside.

Up ahead, through the dark of the night and some dust, I saw some flickering tail lights. Good, a truck going the same direction. I could pass it and in that way get ahead of the pursuing truck with its load of men. It was a big Scania truck.

The threat behind us was getting closer to our vehicle. On a fairly straight stretch of road I quickly drove off the road, bounced across the drainage ditch alongside the road, pulled ahead of the Scania, bounced back across the ditch, pulled back in front of it and drove ahead. This left the pursuing lorry now behind the Scania -and in no way could it pass it.

The road made a slight turn to the right. In my rear-view mirror (left-hand drive vehicle!!) I saw the pursuing lorry stop, drive off the road and turn around and go back the way it had come as it was chasing us. By now my passengers, having been thrown around quite a bit by the way I had been driving, were quite vocal – about my driving! Since we were now clear of the perceived danger, I told them what had been going on for the last few minutes. Silence!

Then, with one voice, they broke out in a song of thanksgiving to the Lord. They all knew of the reputation of that town; knew of police actions there because of robberies, hijacking – and worse – and knew that our Lord had protected – had even used that Scania truck as a bloc against those pursuing us who no doubt had intended evil.

August 11, 2016 11:42 pm
Published in: Ministry Life

The traditional chief of the Salawe area where we lived, Ntenga, had a fairly extensive pawpaw (or papaya) garden. Not just a few tPawpawTree2rees planted here and there but about an acre of nothing but pawpaw trees. Being the chief, he had a number of people working for him and the place was always well weeded and cultivated.

Because of relationships established with him before we moved to the area, when we finally arrived I was invited from time to time to drink tea with him in the chief’s boma, served by one of his wives. Often after the tea, if it was the right season, we were served papaya from his garden.

This papaya fruit was always quite sweet; never bland or flat-tasting as papaya often can be. I commented once to the chief about this and he said, “aho jilijilila kuhya” … oh, sorry! … “as they are ripening, we throw sand at them. This makes them “kulila” (cry – makes the white sap flow out of the fruit) and that makes them sweet”.

The chief was convinced of this. I never did have the chance (or remember!) to try that on a couple papaya trees I had so I can’t vouch for it. My trees produced both sweet and bland or flat-tasting fruit. That is why I planted a lime tree so we would have lime juice, mainly for the flat-tasting papaya. But whenever the chief sent us a gift of papaya we could always be sure they would taste great!

August 10, 2016 3:00 am
Published in: "Home" Experiences

Since North Eastern USA was our main supporting church area, we spent all 6 of our furloughs (oops!, Home Assignments)at homes for missionaries on ‘furlough’ in New Jersey at the Cedar Lane Missionary Homes. The homes were well constructed and equipped – ranch-style with an uninsulated attic used for storage. Folks there, both staff and other missionaries in residence, were always so kind and helpful and we were thankful for all that was done for us. (As an aside, we were later asked to be the Directors of the Homes and had a further 8 years there on staff.)

One of our ‘furlo’ times there was when milk began to be sold in plastic ‘jugs’ instead of glass. And the plastic ‘jugs’ did not have to be returned to the seller of the milk which saved that hassle.

Being from a ‘back’ area in Tanzania, I thought it would be a good idea to save the empty ‘jugs’ to take back to Africa – we could certainly use them and we could give some to our African friends. So, throughout the year, as a ‘jug’ was emptied of milk and washed out, it was thrown up into the attic. “Saving them to take back to Africa” was my explanation to whoever asked.

Our year in the States was now up. Time to get packed up and get ready to go back. I went up into the attic to get the ‘jugs’ and saw a huge – and I mean HUGE! – pile of empty milk containers. Did I say that I “threw” them into the attic over the year? I certainly had no idea just how many were accumulating up there! Missionary Mentality at its best!!

Needless to say, ‘downsizing and disposing’ was the order of the day. All I had was a smaller Plymouth sedan and it took several trips to the dump to dispose of most of them. We did take a few out and used them for several years. The ones I did take, I filled up with powdered milk and that came in very handy out where we lived. But, in short order, plastic ‘jugs’ and other plastic containers started appearing commercially in Tanzania and were easily available to all.

Since then, plastic ‘jugs’ that come into our household, when emptied, are crushed and disposed of in the proper trash pickup. So much for good intentions!