Tanzania Touch-down!

Steve and Ruth Lancaster,

This post by Steve and Ruth Lancaster was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane

It seems more than five weeks ago that we packed up our stuff and headed back here to Tanzania.  I’d been given the all-clear by the surgeon and was able to return with a new nose!  The operation went well and my sinuses were well and truly scrubbed up and scraped out!  As we touched down in Dar another delight awaited us!  In fact, we wondered whether we’d arrived in the right country!  We left Dar back in March from a rather grotty airport and arrived back at a brand new terminal building!  And this time, it was great to see all our luggage trundling around the gleaming new carousel!  It was also a bit of a surprise to have no issues at Immigration, so the system obviously acknowledged the recent renewal of our permits. 

As forecast in the last newsletter, the cars were indeed a lengthy job!  Peeling back the tarpaulins revealed that the insides of the cars were covered in a thick layer of mould!  In an effort to protect the outside of the cars, the insides had certainly suffered, so much so that we had to take the seats out to give them a thorough cleansing!  Rotting fuel (?!) also added to a fuel-filter issue and, although the engine compartments hadn’t become a nesting place for termites, rats or snakes, we did find a couple of rather large spiders hiding in there, one of which is still lurking somewhere amongst the spark plugs!  Thankfully, the house was in good condition and it didn’t take us long to get settled in.

On our return to Sanga Sanga, it was good to see the conference hall being used for a pastors’ conference and to hear that all but one scheduled seminar had taken place during the year.  It was also encouraging to see the AIC using the facilities for a children’s camp.  Thanks to our sending church, Corsham Baptist, it was great to see a new accommodation block rising out of the bush!  And, as a tree lover, it was fantastic to see that the team had been busy planting lots of trees and shrubs around the site.

Since our return Ruth has been spending hours with her head in the cash books, sorting out vouchers and receipts from the last eight months and playing the detective in trying to work out what came from which budget etc!  It’s consumed her every waking thought (and some night-time thoughts as well!) but headway is being made slowly.  My efforts have been focussed more on unit leadership matters, which has meant more time behind the mouldy steering wheel as I visited various missionaries in the unit.   
 
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go”?! 
As I wandered the aisles of a supermarket in Dar the other day, this was one of many Christmas songs being played.  It all seemed a bit surreal and disconnected from life outside.  In fact, here in Morogoro, there are only a few small shops that are remotely Christmassy and it’s rather ironic that those shops belong to Muslims!  I pondered some of the words of these so-called Christmas classics and wondered what Tanzanians make of them.  After all, reindeers and sleigh bells, mulled wine and mince pies, snowy Christmas-card scenes and Santa, carolling and Christmas cake don’t quite fit into an African culture!  Thankfully, there’s more to Christmas than some of these western traditions! 
The situation I found myself in 24 hours earlier was even further removed from the title of that song!  As part of my role as unit leader, I was visiting a team of AIM missionaries out in the bush who are living amongst an unreached Muslim people group – and it certainly didn’t feel anything like Christmas there!  The rutted red-mudded ‘road’ was a bit of a challenge for the Subaru but it led me to a village of mud huts and mud-bricked houses.  The heat was intense, the cicadas buzzed in the trees, and a family sat on the ground under some trees, whilst bare-bottomed toddlers toddled around!  One of the recent buildings is a small school which was built by an AIC church and the team.  Providing education has definitely been a gateway for the gospel here, where teaching the Bible is part of the curriculum.  Twenty five children have made it through the first year of education and there are some encouraging tales of the gospel rubbing off on some of these little ones. 
You might remember a rather different Christmas song released back in 1984 (35 years ago!) which contained the words “Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?”  Well, here in this off-the-beaten-track Tanzanian village, they definitely do!  They’ve heard the real Christmas message, without having to wade through wrapping paper and tinsel to hear about Jesus.  Thanks to this team, this group of people has heard the real and relevant message of God’s son “putting on skin” and descending into humanity for the most dramatic and sacrificial rescue mission of all time!  As you pray for people around you this Christmas who don’t yet know Christ, please also spare a prayer for this team and the villagers they’re trying to reach with the gospel. 
Christmas will be different for us this year as we’re heading to Uganda to spend some time with our former team-mates, Tony & Cath Swanson.  At some point during those festivities we’re also hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive Shoebill, which I realise might not mean much to many of you, or even be top of your Christmas wish list, but it’s one of those ‘must see’ birds in the African birding world!  For those trying to picture it, just think of a large bird with a shoe-like bill!  Soon after New Year, we’ll be heading to the cooler climes of Nairobi for unit leader meetings.  So all in all, a festive period that will involve quite a bit of travel, some of it for pleasure and some for ministry.  
As we close up a memorable year, we’d like to take the opportunity to thank those of you who support us prayerfully and financially.  We couldn’t do our work here in Tanzania without you – so many, many thanks to you all.  Whatever you’re up to for Christmas and New Year, have a truly blessed time!  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13).      
Diary Dates: 
23-30 Dec: Christmas in Uganda
5-11 Jan: Nairobi (Unit Leader meetings) 
Jan-March: Steve prepares teaching material for 2020 conferences
Prayer & Praise Points: 
  • We’re thanking God for a safe return and for the fact that we’re fully supported.
  • Please pray for Steve as he begins his teaching preparation for the seminars in 2020.
  • Pray for Ruth as she wades through the accounts, checking and correcting.
  • Please pray for an accountant to be employed at Sanga, sooner rather than later! 
  • Please pray for Steve and his health.  Whilst the sinus operation was very much needed, it has now become obvious that the sinuses weren’t the real cause of headaches and dizziness.  They still exist, along with the insomnia. The sleep tank is pretty empty!  
Bird of the month:
Long-crested Eagle

LOVE…IS NOT ARROGANT

kathylarkman,

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

love came down 2“Our Lord Jesus Christ exchanged the throne of glory for a manger borrowed from the animals; when he was presented in the temple, his parents could afford only the offering made by the poor (Luke 2 v 22-24; see Leviticus 12 v 6-8). He had no place to lay his head; his only possession of any worth when he died was a seamless robe someone had lovingly made for him, he was buried in a borrowed grave. Yes, he became poor to make us rich. No wonder then that Paul wrote:

‘Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God…made himself mothing, taking the form of a servant…and…humble himself.’ (Philippians 2 v 3-8)

There is no room for arrogance when every gift we have is from Jesus. Paul teaches us that humility replaces arrogance when we see that Love came down at Christmas.” 

Notice sheet 8th December 2019

Louise,

Baptism Service

At the 11:15am service this morning we are having a baptismal service for Lydia Pillinger.  We would like to extend a warm welcome to her friends and family on this special occasion.

Midweek Service

The text on 11th December is James 4: 1-10. Eric is leading and David is preaching.  On Wednesday 18th December we will be holding our traditional service of Carols and Bible Readings for Christmas.  Both services are at 2.00pm and followed by refreshments. All are welcome.

Fight Night

This monthly prayer meeting for the men in our church takes place tomorrow night, Monday 9th December at 8pm.  Please contact Ian Holmes if you would like to know more!

Women’s Christmas Meal

This will take place tomorrow, Monday 9th December, at 7:30pm at Priory Street.  Women from all the services (and their friends) are invited to the now traditional “Christmas Curry and Cocoa” evening where we gather together to celebrate Jesus and have great fellowship and food (from Moonlight).  Cost is £10 per person.  There is a sign-up sheet at the back of the church!

Nativity Service

It’s that time of year again! Calling all thespians! If you are interested in taking part in the nativity service on Saturday December 14 at 4pm at Priory Street, please speak to Rhiannon. There are flyers at the back of church so please take some and invite family and friends. There will be refreshments afterwards so come and join in the fun and fellowship. The nativity isn’t just for children!  Come even if you are an adult and be reminded of the reason that we celebrate Christmas.

Carols by Candlelight Helpers Needed

Helpers are needed to serve refreshments after the Carol Service on Sunday 15th December at 6pm. This will involve serving tea and coffee and distributing warm mince pies – speak to Rhiannon!

Scratch Choir

Calling anyone who would like to get together to form a choir and learn one song to sing at the Christmas carol service on Sunday 15th December. We will only have one rehearsal on the day at 2.30pm. All welcome – please see/email Sara Taylor for any more info and to sign up.

Wadswick Green Carol Singing

You are invited to join in the singing of Carols at Wadswick Green, Greenhouse on Monday 23rd December 2019 at 10am.

Christmas Service Offerings – 2019

On Saturday 14 December, the offering taken at the Nativity Service will be given to Compassion UK’s “Most Needed Fund” and will be used to support the work of their Child Survival Programme in many poor communities across the world.  The offerings taken at the Carol Services on Sunday 15 December (Carols by Candlelight) and at the midweek service on Wednesday 18 December, will be sent to support the work of the Oasis Centre, our mission partners in Austria working alongside refugees. 

If you are able to gift aid your donation, special yellow envelopes for your monetary offering are available on the table at the back of the building.  Please do mark them “NATIVITY – COMPASSION” or “CHRISTMAS – OASIS”.  When the offering is taken on the day, only the contents of the yellow envelopes, and loose cash/cheques will be included in the amounts to be given away.  Blue envelopes will be treated as regular giving to the general work of the church.  Please do pray about how you can contribute towards this offering, and speak to Paul Garcia (COTG Rudloe), Michael Prior (Priory Street 9.15) or Roger Hammett (Priory Street 11.15) should you wish to clarify anything.

Christmas Cards for the Persecuted Church

Christmas Cards for persecuted believers are available on the table at the back with relevant information.  Please take a card and sign it with a verse of encouragement and prayer; once signed, please place back in Open Doors’ envelope in the tray.  Thank you.

Prayer challenge!

Please join us in praying for the UK and the General Election on Thursday 12th December. No meetings or travel needed – pray wherever you are, at the time that works for you. Commit to praying at a specific time by signing the sheet on the table at the back of the church.  Any questions, please see Helen Christie or Gill Bryant.

...This week @ CBC…

Monday: Mums’ bible study, 10am; fight night, 8pm

Wednesday: Midweek service, 2pm

Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am; DAC, 7:30pm

Friday: DAC, 9:30am; Encounter, 3.45pm; Engage, 4:30pm; Energize, 5:30pm

Saturday: Nativity service, 4pm

CBC Christmas Services 2019

@ Priory Street

14th Dec – nativity service, 4pm

15th Dec – Carols by Candlelight, 6pm

17th Dec – Corsham Town Carol Service, 6:45pm

18th Dec – Midweek Carol & Readings Service, 2pm

24th Dec – Christmas eve communion service, 6pm

25th Dec – Christmas day family service, 10am

29th Dec – no evening service

@ Church on the Green, Rudloe

22nd Dec – nativity, 10am

24th Dec – carolling around Rudloe community, 6pm

25th Dec – Christmas day family service, 10am

LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS

kathylarkman,

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

love came down 2Through advent, there will be excerpts from Sinclair Ferguson’s book, LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS. Take time to ponder and reflect the wonder of His love.

“The Christian faith has a grammar all of its own. If we mess up the grammar of a language, we will not be able to speak it properly. In the grammar of the Christian faith, what we are called to be and do, is rooted in who God is and what He has done for us in Christ. (Emphasis mine) So the resources we need to love others are found in the love of Jesus Christ for us. That is why, when we read Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13, we need to keep our ears open for echo’s of Jesus’ life and look for his shadow following on every line.”

Blog post 11 or 12: One Year Anniversary edition

Matthew Little,

This post by Matthew Little was originally published at Diary of a Deckie: My experience volunteering on a hospital ship.

Wow. It has just been just over 365 days since my Mercy Ships. This is counting the days since climbing the gangway of the Africa Mercy for the first time, not since I actually joined Mercy Ships. otherwise it would be about ….. 407 day. No, I’m not taking out the  month’s PTO I took during the summer, because I technically never left Mercy Ships. I still have blue lanyard, not Alumni green.
I say that, but in actual fact, I reluctantly gave into getting a replacement lanyard. Which I was saddened by. It was like a piece of my identity was taken away from me. Mainly because after a year, It didn’t look blue, it looked a dusty-brown grey. I really enjoyed when other crew members asked “So what does a grey lanyard mean?” and I would then go “It’s not a grey lanyard, it’s a blue one but just old”. Like the time in Doctor Who, when the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) confessed that he actually enjoyed hearing “Doctor Who?” said out loud.

Ship life has been pretty standard, over the last month or so, with some interesting new things I have got up to on Deck. One of these things is learning how to maintain and repair chipping guns. That involved taking a chipping gun apart, cleaning it, checking if all the components are in order and in condition to be used again, and then putting them back together again, oiling them, and testing that they work. I did another week of Night Patrol, which went overall, pretty great! Nothing caught on fire, and there were no emergencies. Although, there is usually something that is on the back of your mind that they don’t want to happen and are out the ordinary. Nothing bad happened though.

During my week of night patrol, my Thursday was interrupted by a fire drill. Not that I didn’t already know that there would be a fire drill that Thursday, but here is the catch. It was a surprise fire drill. That happened about half past 10 in the morning. It wasn’t great to have just about fallen asleep for about 3 hours, and then suddenly to be woken up abruptly by a overhead announcement by the captain saying “Attention crew, attention crew this is a drill this is a drill. I am announcing this before the crew alert alarm so we don’t disturb the Operating Room. It’s on the dock”. Obviously, I had just woken up, and it took a very minutes to register what was going on, and then the crew alert alarm went off. So, I had to put on some trousers, not change my tshirt, because why would I, and went to my muster station. They got kitted up, I was asked to tell muster control who was missing from our team, whilst the rest of the team went to the scene. I went down, looking very confused, very tired, and squinting. And very hot. I have been outside in the sun in the bunker gear, it was not fun. My mum has some very bad photos of me in the bunker gear, completely unaware she was taking photos, looking sleepy and flustered. The drill finished, I helped with pack up, and went back to bed. Until about 3:30 in the afternoon, woken up by ANOTHER DRILL! It’s safe to say my sleep was interrupted big time. No one wants to woken up by an unexpected morning fire drill, let alone two unexpected drills. It was a security drill, and we were practising an evacuation from the ship. So I accidentally created another line waiting to get off the ship very awkwardly, until I was allowed to get off. It wasn’t a long line, but still. I then didn’t go back to sleep. A week later, on fire team training, a competition was held between the four fire teams, to which team could suit up the fastest, and ready to enter a space with a fire. That means, skin completely covered up. My team, Fire Team 4, won the contest!  On the basis that we were the only team to not be disqualified for having anything wrong with our suits! You know the saying ‘Slow and steady wins the race’? Having that mindset is crucial in fire-fighting. You may be fast, sure, but are you ACTUALLY ready?

Dreams do come true… even if they are getting Ice Cream.

After waking up on Saturday afternoon, after completing another week, I told some friends that “I really want to go out for ice cream at somepoint.” So, we tried to arrange to go out for ice cream the following Tuesday. The plan was like a plant. I provided the seed, (Hey, I wanna go get Ice Cream), a friend sowed the seed (Sure, let’s do this on Tuesday), and another friend watered the soil (Hey other friends, wanna get ice cream on Tuesday). The plant quickly withered and died. The plan conflicted with other plans. Unfortunately, the message of “hey, most of us are busy, so we are going to have to cancel the whole plan, sorry.” Didn’t make it’s way to the seed of the plan until the day of the plan. All hope of getting Ice Cream seemed lost. Or so I thought. After a Saturday full of out of town activity (more on that later), The message was sent to the Whatsapp group “Ice cream at Cremino”. It was happening. After only a week. And it happened. A few hours ago, I had been ziplining through Baobab trees, had a White Chocolate and Strawberry Magnum, and now we were getting Ice Cream. I felt I had peaked that day. And the perfect photo showing exactly how I was feeling was taken. Also, If you are in Dakar, and are looking for Ice Cream, I would highly recommend Cremino!
Together at last…. Choc
o Noisette and Salted Caramel

Safaris and ziplining through Baobab trees

Most of that Saturday was spent exploring and seeing the beauty in the natural landscapes of Senegal, in Bandia nature reserve and Accrobaobab. I, along with my parents, and a fairly large group, including Mike, the Carpenter, Nic (One of the officers), Riku (Another officer, from Japan!) and ‘Matsu’ (Engineer, also from Japan), Barry and Cheryl (British, married, chaplain and housekeeper, respectively), and about another Mercy Ships vehicle full. We weren’t the only Mercy Shippers going to Bandia, though. There were like another two Mercy Ships vehicles going to Bandia. We calculated that all but one of the vehicles for personal use had gone to Bandia. Only one was either at the ship, or elsewhere. So where was the last vehicle? That was a mystery. So, Bandia. Bandia was so nice. It was so good to just get away to get away from the hustle and bustle of the port and town, swapping people not that I don’t like people, it’s just, being around people, particularly a large number of people, does get tiring for lots of beautiful animals, and swapping the environment of dust, metal and concrete structures for baobab trees, and the breathtaking West African countryside. If that is what you call the more, natural areas of West Africa. I had never been on a Safari, but it felt like exactly how you may imagine: A big, open sided jeep, with a guide. Not the most descriptive description, but that was all there was to it. The only thing missing was the guide carrying a rifle with tranquilliser darts, in case some animals got a little bit too grabby with our food. I’m looking at you, monkeys. The animals were chill, I think they just wanted the humans to stop looking at them, and mind our own business. Especially a couple of giraffes, who kept bashing their heads into each other. I don’t blame the animals sometimes, to be honest. We also saw a juvenile tortoise trying to pick a fight with some of the older tortoises. I can imagine they were thinking “Please leave me alone. I just wanna stand around being a tortoise”

After a relaxing truck ride on the ground, observing African nature, we then used an opportunity to see the serene African nature from a different perspective, and with a slightly more active demeanor… up in the sky…. Nearly. Zipling through Baobab trees. It’s like Go-Ape, to all my fellow Brits. And maybe some Americans, as I just found out! Accept, through Baobab trees. The course we did, the highest and longest, was a mix of predominately ziplining and tight rope walking. The ziplining, surprisingly, was the easier part of the course. All it involved was hooking yourself up to the cable, and ensuring you get the wheelly system hooked up correctly, then you zoom through the sky, hoping that the cable doesn’t snap halfway through. On one of the last lines, I didn’t put in enough ‘oomph’ at my launch, so I just missed reaching the next platform without having to drag myself to the platform. And I grabbed on to the cable a bit too soon, and stopped myself. Just before the end. And rubbed my hands against the cable. Wasn’t fun. The next line, though. landed perfectly, In one. zoom. Maybe. I don’t know how to put it, but I reached the next platform in one go. The hardest part was the tight rope walk parts. The first was two cables vertically parallel too eachother. It wasn’t easy, with the fear of maybe losing a shoe. That almost happened climbing up the first ladder. And also maybe getting hit in the head by a rogue Baobab fruit. Which are heavy. Almost happened twice. But, taking the time to not slip off, (We were clipped to the top cable, so not fall off) allowed me to take a good look at the surroundings – the trees, the plains, the settlements, the odd industrial building. It is truly breathtaking. It kinda felt like being the camera of the aerial shots of a nature documentary. Or the establishing shots, just before we see the city in Wakanda in Black Panther for the first time. Nic, who was ahead of me in the course, who waited for me to get to the next platform before zooming to the next mentioned how focused and determined I looked, walking across the last tight rope walk. After completing the course, and after ice creams, it was time to head back to the port.

Other recent deck work has included greasing life boat davit cables. Not very nice, mainly because Harmattan is back, the dusty season, so cleaning the dirt off the cables wasn’t fun. Also, some not so fun enclosed space work. Though, I didn’t go in, I was just supervising, by being the standby man, but, for the guys going in, my fellow deck HANDS, James, Francis, Cherif and Ishaka (James has several names for me. the most current being ‘Supey’ – shortened from Supervisor), It has been tough work. In James’ words (or similar) “It’s like an oven. The air blowing around is hot. We have been doing maintenance underneath the stores crane. That has involved sweeping the dust inside, chipping, and yet to be done grinding. It’s a tedious job, and is a job that cannot go wrong. To all the ‘Landlubbers’, Enclosed Space work is one of the most dangerous work on a ship- that and diving operations. The entrances to the enclosed space also look like an old oven. It is apparently a job that has not been done in about 13 years. Which, in Mercy Ships history, is a year before the Africa Mercy started it’s Mercy Ships service.

WOW, EAGLES!
My Adventure Crew, an elite group of young Mercy Shippers established during shipyard. A group that we want to go down in Mercy Ships history and legend, until no one knows how it truly started. We said goodbye to another one of the ‘Founding Fathers, Simon, from New Zealand.  Simon joined at the very end of the field service in Guinea. It was a sad day. The day that we said goodbye, not when he joined! We became close friends. Mostly through his love of the way I say “Wow!” It was nice to have that close friendship with someone is a bit older than me. And someone to have a laugh playing Age of Empires 2 with, as I desperately clung on for life, trying to building farms, whilst he layed siege to my last villagers, stuck between a wall and a forest. So, a few hours before waving him off, as he left for the airport, we, aswell as some members of the Adventure Crew- old and new, went out for dinner at La Pampa, a nice local Argentinean place. Simon and I shared a Calabreasa Pizza. It was touching. After ice cream at Cremino, we went back to the ship. Simon wasn’t due to leave until 10, so I joined another group that another group of us have formed within the last week. our little ‘Mandalorian’ watching party. The Mandalorian, If you haven’t heard within the last month, is the new live action Star Wars TV series, exclusive to Disney+. Only 4 episodes in, and I am really enjoying it, the new grittier side of Star Wars, very intriguing plot. We watched the first three episodes a few days ago, and we watched chapter three again, mostly because on  of our party left before we started episode three. But that didn’t matter, but because it was worth the rewatch, because it is the best of the four at the moment. Then we watched chapter 4, which had just been released. So, then it was time to say goodbye. And then we went back to the Mandalorian. So long, Simon, I miss you already!
I also said goodbye to another friend that I had made during the last two months, Vanessa, one of the OR Nurses. If you see this, actually written not long after you left, it was a pleasure to have met you, get to know you, and call you a friend.

Deck hand – Admiral (to be)

Trying to get back into Tabletop miniature war-gaming (after about 8 years, from visiting a Games Workshop in Cambridge and buying a starter set of Ultramarines) and about a year of my friend from back home trying to get me into the hobby, I decided that I would order the starter set of ‘Black Seas’, the new Age of Sail (1770- 1830) line of tabletop war-gaming miniatures. I have started to build a fleet. Or two fleets. I intend to build two small British and French Navy Fleets so I can actually play with someone. Then expand to create a massive fleet. Maybe.

This is what they looked like a few Saturdays ago.

Three 5th rate frigates, without masts. 6 Brigs, with masts

 Thank you for reading, now enjoy some beautiful photos of nature. Taken with my new phone, and I was trying to work out all the fancy photography features. So not all that great. Not that I take many pictures anyway.

See you again soon!

Matthew.

And here’s a selfie I didn’t realise I took.
What are you looking at?
“Are they gone yet, Derek? My head hurts”
“Well, you hit me with your head.”
This lake didn’t look as nice as the picture would make it to be.
But it was nice to see a different body of water
Take my ice cream. I dare you. I double dare you
An antelope, I think. I don’t remember
A beautiful black and blue bird