It is morning and the roosters are crowing and the birds are singing. The voices from the shamba (farm) next door awaken me from sleep. It was a long night as loud music played all night from a property somewhere in the distance. This was the second night that the music blared out across the quiet of the night on the banks of Lake Victoria. The music was from a funeral as families and friends gather together for a time of mourning that lasts for days. I realize that this is Africa and so different from life in Sydney. It is at a much slower pace and death is common place. I struggle to comprehend the harshness of this land. There are people everywhere with all sorts of issues that we know little about.
The life of the missionary in this community is a real challenge. They see poverty every day. I took our youngest grandson to the clinic last week for an inoculation. I was saddened to see so many people (up to 100) quietly lining up to see the one or two doctors. It was 10am. Many had malaria while others had unknown illnesses. People just sit around as unemployment is very high particularly among the young. There are motorbikes everywhere as this seems to be a thriving business ferrying people from one place to another. There are little stalls every few metres selling small amounts of produce. Competition is high as people seek to make just a little to see them through the day. It is fair to say that my heart aches as I realize this is the norm for the majority of Tanzanians.
Church also is a struggle! Missionaries are often assigned to small and struggling rural churches to help them in their ministry. We have attended two churches where there were only ten adults and a handful of children in attendance. The church buildings are rustic at best. One church was in a school room where there was no glass in the windows and where we sat at rickety desks. Church started 30-45 minutes late as we waited for people to arrive. There were no musical instruments yet the singing was rich. My Swahili is very poor and it is hard to follow what is being said but it is good to be with fellow brothers and sisters in worship of our Lord God.
I returned from worship with a very heavy heart. The church is also struggling from division following a recent election of a senior denominational leader. Sadly, the local pastor was sacked because he voted for the candidate who was narrowly elected. He was given two weeks’ notice to move out. He is a faithful man of God and teaches from God’s word with grace. The issue is that the person who was elected was from the wrong tribe. Why is it like this? I guess the evil one desires the church to be ineffective by dividing instead of being one body as they reach out to the spiritually thirsty people of Tanzania regardless of tribe or language. Please pray for the church as they go through this struggle.