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Africa Inland Mission
October 21, 2016 2:21 am
Published in: Ministry Life

Yes, it’s raining but not too hard. The main mbuga (swamp) has some water in it but not very deep. With the Land Rover we can safely make our way across. We better make a trip to town to get supplies because when the “long rains” come, there is no way we could get across. And travel will be curtailed for at least the following 4 months.

So we go. Shopping in the late morning hours after we arrive, lunch at the mission guest house, shopping in the early afternoon and, about 3 p.m. with the vehicle well loaded, we start for home about 70 miles away – so we should be there by sun-down.

BUT in the area above the swamp, to the east, it had rained hard while we were in town. All that water had flowed into the swamp filling it up to about a thigh-high depth. BUT, we had to get home. No way could we wait for it to go down. That might be months from now!

During the previous rains, loaded trucks had navigated the swamp leaving ruts where they had passed. Some had gotten stuck in the mud and had to be jacked up and dug out, leaving pits and depressions where they had been. Now I had to navigate across and I had no idea where those deep holes were.

xxlndrovmbugaAs in every situation like that, one does just now “plow across” unless they have a reasonable expectation of making it. Park the vehicle, get out and take off your shoes and socks, roll up your trousers and “feel out” the best way through the water and grass. And that I did.

Oops! I stepped into one of those holes. The water came up to my waist. Grabbing some of the stalks of  grass growing nearby, I knotted them together at the top end. Now, that would be the sign of an area to avoid. Across the swamp I went, stepping in holes, knotting grass and charting a way across.

Sopping wet, back at the Land Rover, I removed the fan-belt to keep the fan from turning. That would keep the fan from flooding the engine when it hits the water. Grease was smeared over the spark plug wires where they connected to the plugs. The same was done to the distributor cap. I had not yet been able to get the water-proofing kit that the British army used on its Land Rovers.

O.K., time to go! 4-wheel drive, low range, was engaged. First gear was engaged and I plowed in. My eyes were on those tied-together tufts of grass and I managed to avoid the holes. With a sigh of relief and thanks to God we rolled up and out on the other side, none the worse for the ordeal. In short order the fan belt was put back on and the final seven miles to home were uneventful. We arrived just as the sun was going down and the chickens were heading back into their coop. Carol whipped up a quick supper and by about 9 p.m. we were in bed. Another day. Another experience. Another evidence of God’s care.

And, in case you think this happened only once, we lived out in that area for over 7 years and each year during the rains had to experience a variation of this story. The roads across the swamps were never improved during our time living out there in Salawe.

October 13, 2016 4:02 am
Published in: Uncategorized

I guess because we are off to flood-ravaged North Carolina for a wedding, I need to get another post added. And, maybe, the following is appropriate.
Unless you are used to deciphering local language usage, you have no idea what the title to this blog means. Nor did I at the beginning.

We lived ‘way out there beyond the seasonal swamps. As soon as the rains stopped and the water in the swamps receded enough, we always planned a trip to town to get supplies. After all, it had been at least 4 or 5 months since were last there!

The 4-wheel drive Land Rover got its workout on those days. Rough travel, especially through water which you couldn’t see through because it was the color of chocolate, made the vehicle bounce and twist and turn as it churned its way across. And, as always, there were always local Africans who wanted to go to town also and as long as I had room I took them. On the other hand, the more of them I could take provided insurance – hands to push if I got the vehicle stuck in the mud!

salroadsAfter a long bouncy ride across the last swampy stretch, I turned around in my seat to make sure my passengers were okay. I asked them how they had fared and one piped up and said, “Tuli sitili”. I assumed it was that all were well and continued on to town.

Later I had occasion to ask what was meant. “We were strong and held on (for dear life, I am sure!)”. “Tuli” means “we are”. “Sitili” is the Sukuma dialect’s pronunciation of the English word, “steel”. So what I was told was that all the passengers were strong as steel (sitili) and had come through the ordeal with no problem.

October 1, 2016 9:34 pm
Published in: Family Life

I guess I need to start October off right – who knows when I will post again. So, from “family life”, here is a reflection. And don’t spend too much time trying to figure who that unnamed one is!

It was always fun when our children returned from their boarding school. Sometimes pressures of mission work took over but we always tried to have a special time together during their time home. Often that “special time” involved a safari or a camping trip to the Serengeti. The only problem with the Serengeti camping – I was the only one willing to get up at night to stoke the campfire we kept burning to keep the hyenas at bay and, maybe, also those lions which were roaring off in the distance.

During the day, while camping, we drove all over looking at the animals. This one time, we were surrounded by a troop of baboons – staring at us, walking all around; coming closer for a better look. One of our daughters, whose name will not be mentioned at this time, didn’t like them looking at her. They scared her ‘to death’! So as to prevent the baboon from seebaboon-jpging her, she lay down on the floor in the back of the Land Rover. That gave her confidence that she would survive! From then on, whenever we came across other baboons, she would protect herself that way saying “the bad-boons can’t see me now”!

Often, when the kids were going back to school in Kenya, we drove up taking the shortcut through the Serengeti – Ndabaka Gate entrance, to Seronera, to Lobo, to Kleins Camp, across the border and the Mara River to Keekorok, to Narok, to Kijabe. It was a great trip and we were able to view many animals on the way – kongoni, topi, grantis and thompson gazelles, impala, wart hog, hyena, zebra, buffalo, ostrich, sometimes lion. It seemed all this wildlife soon became “old hat” to the kids. “We’ve seen them all before”.

This one trip up to Kenya was no exception. Wildlife all over! The “old hat” attitude took over. We cleared Keekorok and drove onward across part of Masailand. As we drove into Narok some vestige of excitement became evident. After all, we were getting nearer to Kijabe!

Suddenly one of the children (again unnamed because we had only one son), shouted, “Look, look. A donkey!” After passing through all that wildlife, finally! An animal in a “civilized” area. PERSPECTIVE!

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.