Pastor Aroni

Aroni welcomed me to Kijima when I first arrived on the field as a missionary in 1956. He lived just off the Mission Station and was the station evangelist (later was ordained a pastor), basically in charge of the church when the district pastor was away on general district church oversight responsibilities. There were at least 32 “out-churches” so the pastor was quite busy.
Aroni seemed to have deep understanding of the needs of new missionaries – language learning and possible “traps”, cultural sensitivities and understanding and general adjustments needed. Even though I had been brought up in that area of Tanzania, there was a lot I needed to learn. I had been gone for many years and Aroni was there to work me through all these adjustments.
I went out single; Carol still had 2+ years of Bible School left. In fact, at this time I hadn’t even proposed yet. That was done later by mail! So I spent much time in his village and following him down the paths as he (we) visited around. All this served to work me back in to church life and to smooth over my transition. Aroni was also very interested my possibilities for a wife. I told him of Carol, back in Bible school in the States, but that nothing had been “settled” yet.
In due course I proposed, Carol accepted and the Lord provided for her to come out to the field. Her arrival was a joyful time and the Field Council assigned her to live on another station about 70 miles away (with her future in-laws!). Even then, when I had time, I “managed” to get my vehicle to drive down that way to visit!
Back on the station, one morning, Aroni came up to the house dragging a big fat ram. He presented it to me saying, “This is to help you get married”. I didn’t understand and I must have looked at him with questioning and he said, “Mr XXX, (another missionary man on the station) said that you had spent all your money bringing your “to-be” wife out from America and now you didn’t have what is necessary to pay for her bride dowry. He (missionary XXX) said that your trips away from the station were to try to find the cattle needed to provide for that dowry. I want to help, so here is a good fat ram to help”.
Explanation was now in order. I told him that all that was needed before our wedding was for permission from the Field Council and that in America the matter of dowry was not the custom.
With a bit more explanatory details, his face fell but then turned into a huge grin. He now knew that “his leg had been pulled” by that other missionary man and he fell into the flow of the joke. Still grinning, he put the rope that was tethered to the ram into my hand and said, “This, then, is a gift to make the wedding party happy.”
And it did. The approved wedding date was a month or so away but I transported that ram on the roof-rack of a Volks Beetle the 70 miles down the rough road to where Carol was staying and there they cared for it until later we, and many others, were able to enjoy a savory mutton meal.

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