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Africa Inland Mission
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!

August 1, 2016 8:38 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

It’s a new month. I might as well start the month off right!

It was almost sundown. The central church in our area was holding a general conference and tomorrow all the out-churches were coming in for a 3-day conference. Each family or church group was bringing their basic food – corn meal (busu), rice, sweet potatoes, etc. The central church was to provide the meat from its general fund.

In order to save money, I had offered to provide the meat by hunting ‘way out in the seasonal swamp plains (the rains had not yet started so they were basically dry!). I had gone out in the Land Rover with a couple of African friends and we had spent several hours just trying to get close enough to get a decent shot. But, the Land Rover rattled loudly over the rough ground and grass tufts and scared the animals away. Maybe that was why it was still empty of meat.

As I said, the sun was just about to go down. ‘Way off in the distance -‘way off means probably about 500 Topi2yds. away – we saw a herd of topi antelope. In desperation I fired a shot at the biggest one which was standing on an anthill. The Remington 30.06 rifle bullet took off and we saw a puff of dust fly up from the top of another ant hill ‘way out there. The bullet evidently ricocheted from there, continued on its way – and with relief we saw the topi drop. I had scored a hit, at that distance, in spite of the ricochet.

The accompanying Africans – AND I!! – gave a shout of delight and a heartfelt “Thank You, Lord”. The topi was loaded into the Land Rover and we arrived back at the station well after dark. Specified church men were waiting, we delivered the topi to them and they started their work to prepare and divide up the meat for the folks coming.

It was a good conference. The visiting African pastor gave good messages, they were well received and, I trust, used by God’s Spirit in the hearts and lives of all.

And, all the attending families were well fed – both by the food they had brought and by the topi meat provided. And meat was necessary to provide the gravy for both the corn-meal mush (bugali) and the rice they had prepared!

July 29, 2016 10:49 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

I was on my way to a “bush” church. It was the time of the rains; roads were actually the cow-paths; mud was the order of the day; streams were forded; the 4-wheel drive Land Rover really got a workout that day!

I was with several church leaders and they all enjoyed the ride, trusting implicitly in the abilities of the Land Rover. I never had the courage to tell them that I took them along to be available to push if we got stuck in the mud!

Anyway, we came to a stream that was about 30 feet wide. The water was flowing and I was not sure just how deep it was so I rolled up my trousers and waded in. Soon the water soaked my trousers and I wasn’t in the deep part yet. I finally found it was about hip deep. That would cover and flood the engine if I tried to cross – but I had to get to the church. What to do?

The fan-belt was removed so that it would not spray water over the spark plugs; a tarpaulin was tied down over the radiator and about half-way up under the engine to push the water away from the engine; the hood over the engine was removed so I could see if water was coming into the engine compartment. The 4-wheel drive was engaged and with a roar I in the lowest gear accelerated. Into the water we went. The Land Rover kept moving; the tarp was keeping the water away from the engine – but the “tidal wave” in front of the vehicle kept getting bigger. I could feel the pressure of the flowing water beginning to push the vehicle to the side. Forward progress got slower and slower but all those people in the back of the Land Rover added weight which allowed the vehicle to keep contact with the bottom of the stream.

We finally made it over. Actually, the engine started sputtering just as we started to pull up out of the stream and finally “died” just as we made it out. Safe, but the engine spark plugs were wet and needed to dry out before we could go on. I guess the time spent taking off that tarp, replacing the fan belt and put the bonnet (oops! – hood) back on gave enough time for the heat of the engine to dry out the vital electrical connections.

We had a slow start after all that because the engine sputtered and missed for a bit but soon was running smoothly and finally made it to the church. We had a great meeting (it was a Communion Sunday); the crowd of folks there had been patiently waiting and we had a good feast after the morning (and into the afternoon!) meeting. And, the stream had gone down greatly when we returned home so we had no further trouble. GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME.

Addendum – I heard that a Christian university here in the USA had a student from Tanzania. I obtained his phone number and called. When I introduced myself, with excitement he said, “I remember you. You came to the church in my village on that day of much rain!” He had finished his schooling in Tanzanian schools and had come here to get further theological studies. During his years in that school I was able to visit him twice – great fellowship, good African meals and a reminder that our Lord’s ways are ‘way above ours. Great is His Faithfulness!

July 22, 2016 8:25 pm
Published in: Ministry Life

It was the rainy season and the low-lying areas beside the road to Mwanza were full of water. And, at that time of year, the knob-nosed geese and ducks enjoyed those ponds, especially if the pond was a flooded rice paddy.

During those days, if I had to go the 70+ miles to town from our out-station at Salawe to get supplies, I took my double-barreled 12 bore shotgun with me. Maybe on the way home I would be able to “harvest” a goose or two, or a couple of ducks, to take home to supplement our dinners. Those “knobbies” were tough eating, but provided a change to our diet.

On this day (or, rather, evening) the geese and ducks were well dotted throughout the wide expanses of water. I stopped to assess the possibilities and, out in the water, I saw a hummock of earth and grass which would provide me with a good shooting point. As I made my way to the hummock, of course, most of the geese and ducks took off and started flying around. I didn’t mind – my 12 bore had a reputation of bringing down marauding hawks on the wing. The same could happen this time.

I made my way out. The hummock was solid and I crouched to better provide steady shots. I raised the shotgun to my shoulder, ready to shoot a circulating goose, and something bit (or stung) me on my leg. Then another, and another, and another! I looked down at my legs and they were covered with siafu – army ants. They, to escape the water, had decided to use that same hummock and swarmed when I invaded it.

Foregoing any shooting, I took off to higher ground where there was no water. I started picking off the biting ants and found that now they had made it all the way up the inside of my trousers, up to my belt line. There, in plain sight of everyone who happened to be walking on the road, I had to remove my trousers, down to my underwear, and pick off all the biting ants. And it seemed like there were thousands. Then, before I put my trousers back on, I had to turn them inside out and pick out all the ants that I could see and were still in there – I guess they were waiting for my leg to go back inside! And it seemed all the “walkers” on the road had congregated to watch what this crazy “mzungu” (foreigner {white}) was doing. I bet m antics provided a conversation piece around their village campfires that night!

Needless to say, there was no goose or duck for supper. And while driving the last 30+ miles home, I had to stop every once in a while to pick out an ant which I had missed and had decided to bite me. What fun! – – NOT!!

July 18, 2016 5:22 am
Published in: Church Ministry

On arrival in Tanganyika in 1956, I was assigned to live with my folks on Kijima station. Time was to be spent in Sukuma language learning (re-learning, since I had used it as a missionary child growing up there!); later I was to go to Bukoli for my examination.

About a year or so after that exam, my parents were moved to Kola Ndoto. The Mission Field Council appointed me as “Station Superintendent” – theoretically in charge of not only the actual Mission Station but the whole area under that Station’s “jurisdiction”. That involved about 36 primary schools, over 100 “bush” churches and 5 pastoral districts. I did a lot of traveling, first by Volkswagen (I found out they can float in deep water!) and later by Land Rover – GREAT for mud and water!

I did have personal difficulties, though. Being “in charge” of those bush churches and pastoral districts presented an embarrassing situation to me. I was expected (by the Field Council) to give spiritual and administrative counsel to those bush evangelists and the district pastors – but most of them had been in ministry from back in the days when I was a kid growing up out there. Most of them had much more experience and spiritual maturity than I did yet here was I, supposed to guide them and be the chairman of all the church councils. How could I be the “bwana mkubwa” (big bwana) over these mature servants of the Lord? Quandary? Yes!

With trepidation, because I myself was answerable to the Field Council, I deferred to the pastors in church councils and spent time on safari visiting the churches, listening and counseling in private face-to-face informal time – often over a delicious African meal. The African pastors responded great to this deference; the pastors of church districts became the chairman of his pastorate church council and, when we met together as a Station district council, one of them was appointed chairman, usually the most senior pastor or the Station pastor.

Though some of the procedures and the system used to produce consensus “jarred” this mzungu’s (foreigner’s) mind, it worked and proved to be the way to go. In theory the “self-governing, self-propagating, self-supporting principle for African church development had been in place for a good number of years; in actuality practice was far behind especially on Mission Stations which had been in existence “for a coon’s age”, like Kijima.

I remember fondly my interaction with all those pastors and evangelists. I trust relationships that were developed proved we were “one in Christ”. Yes, there were differences – especially with one pastor from a distant pastoral district – but differences of outlook and proposed solutions did not, as far as I know, affect personal relationships. And, with real gratitude to our Lord, none of the differences ever had to do with Biblical understanding or applications.

“… I will build My church… .”, the Lord said. And this church in Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) is proof of this. This is GREAT cause for rejoicing – and GREAT impetus to prayer for its continued ministry in that country. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

July 15, 2016 3:28 am
Published in: Ministry Life

A missionary had passed away and I, as the mission rep in the country, had been appointed executor of her estate. The estate included her bank account in New York into which the mission deposited her monthly support.

After following all the legal steps to release her funds, a hold-up was instituted by the New York State Surrogate Court. Needed was a document signed by the local “Clerk of the Court”. My lawyer in Tanzania was frustrated because, no matter what he did or submitted, it was refused by the New York court. The reason – the Tanzania court system had no office called “Clerk of the Court”. Such an official was non-existent!

In desperation I visited the sitting local court magistrate. I explained the situation in detail and offered my suggestion of a way out. I suggested I go to get a rubber stamp made saying “Clerk of the Court”. I would then come back to his office, he would affix the stamp to the papers and select a person in his office to sign “on the dotted line”. Then, in his presence, I would destroy the rubber stamp. He agreed.

A week later I presented myself again before him. I had the rubber stamp. He stamped the documents required by New York State then looked around for someone to sign. There was no one else in his office.

Just then, the office “sweeper” (janitor) came in. The magistrate called him over and directed him where to sign. He signed – I destroyed the stamp – New York Surrogates Court accepted the documents – bank account funds were released – estate matters closed.

What efficiency – – or was it duplicity? !!!!

July 7, 2016 3:42 am
Published in: Church Ministry

As I mentioned in a previous post, while in Tanzania most baptisms took place at the church Easter Conference. Candidates for baptism had finished the catechism period, had been examined by a group of church leaders and most were declared fit and ready to be AfChBaptbaptized. This happened in the nearest suitable pond where most of the congregation assembled to sing and witness the baptism.

On this day I did the baptism. It was an exhausting job; there were 132 candidates. Because, according to Sukuma tribal custom, all had “in house” names given upon birth (which reflected a special condition or occurrence at their birth), each candidate was asked what name he or she was taking. They would state their choice of name and I would say, “you, [name], I baptize you … .”.

The line of candidates was just about finished. There were only about two or three more to do. I breathed a sigh of relief. At that point, I heard the roar of a vehicle and a Land Rover drove up to the side of the pool. Church leaders congregated around the passenger door.

As soon as the last candidate in the line had been baptized and before I could begin to come out, a leading church elder waded into the pond carrying a young girl in his arms. I would say she was about 14 or 15 years of age but her legs were severely deformed. The church elder put her into my arms, told me that she couldn’t stand or walk but wanted badly to be baptized.

Holding her, I asked her the name she wanted and, after she replied, I said, “Anna [or was it Maria?], I baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” (of course, in the Sukuma language!), did a deep-knee bend to ensure she was immersed, stood up and the elder cleared the water off her face with a dry cloth. The congregation on the bank of the pond, with renewed vigor, broke out in a song of praise to our Lord and the elder carried the girl back to the Land Rover.

I will never forget that baptism service. My exhaustion was gone; my spirit revived and, as together later we observed the Lord’s Supper, my calling to such ministry reaffirmed.