Translation Trials & Bountiful Blessings!

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

Rainbow over the Uluguru Mountains
behind our house

It’s been seven weeks since we last wrote, so it’s definitely time to send out this update, although one can only say so much about translation work!  The good news is that, with the help of my language helper, I’ve now finished translating my eight talks on the Holy Spirit from English into Swahili – and its only taken 60 hours of tuition time!  On the whole it’s been an enjoyable and satisfying process but there have been times of frustration and mental block, where it’s felt as if I’ve been wading through grammatical treacle!  I never realised that learning a language could be so draining. 

An Easter Sunday walk into the Uluguru
Mountains, where we found David Livingstone!

Often, my limited mental energy is sapped simply trying to pronounce a word correctly, which is vitally important when you’re preaching, and when one mispronounced letter can make a huge difference!  Consider the following examples: “bariki” = to bless, “birika” = teapot, “bikira” = virgin.  Think what fun I could have from the pulpit in trying to say ‘God bless you’!  In fact one of our team mates learnt this lesson the hard way during a Sunday School class when she repeatedly talked about the ‘teapot Mary’!  A few years ago, whilst introducing myself at a school assembly here in Tanzania, I couldn’t quite work out why there was so much sniggering going on until it was pointed out that I had said “Jino langu ni Steve” instead of “Jina langu ni Steve”. Only one letter out, but it made all the difference between “My tooth is Steve” and “My name is Steve”!  And what about the verbs “kuonyesha – to show”, “kunyesha – to rain”, and “kunyonyesha – to breastfeed”!  And finally, what can go wrong with a casual greeting?  “Jambo” = hello but “Jamba” = to break wind! Oh, the joys of making mistakes in these situations!  Hence the mental gymnastics required when trying to learn a language.  Your prayers for clarity and a decent memory are much appreciated as I prepare to deliver those eight talks at our first pastors’ conference of the year, starting on 27th May!    

“The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3.  
Let me take you back to something we wrote in our Jan/Feb newsletter with regard to a proposed building project at the IBM base: “The next stage of development at Sanga is to build a 250-seat conference hall complete with a seminar room and a small library to aid visiting pastors in their studies. The site has been cleared and various test holes have been dug and the boys with the shovels are about to ‘break ground’, although the speed of progress will depend very much on what’s in the kitty from week to week!  If you’re looking for a project to support in 2015, believe in the ethos of IBM and want to contribute, then please consider giving to the conference centre project.” 

Well, three months on and someone has indeed done some considering, and blessed us with an extremely generous donation, totalling 60% of the budget!!  Needless to say that is a lot of bricks!  The team here has been super-encouraged and blown away by this gift, and we’re thankful to God for someone who wants to partner with us in this way, helping to invest in the lives of the Tanzanian pastors we work with.  And this gift means that as soon as the rains have stopped (hopefully this month) we’ll be able to welcome on site the shovellers, measurers, hod-carriers, and concrete mixers!  We’re looking forward to seeing those bricks slowly rising up from the African soil and becoming a centre where God’s Word can be faithfully taught. We’ll keep you posted! 

A toddler plays with electrical cables
during a service at the ‘Shed Church

As well as dealing with day to day management issues at Sanga Ruth has also been busy on the speaking circuit during the past few weeks!  She spoke on Philippians ch. 1 recently at an AIM ladies’ retreat, and also at a ladies prayer breakfast on the issue of trust and suffering.  We’ve both been involved in helping to plan the AIM Tanzania conference scheduled for October, and I’ve had a couple of preaching appointments in two very contrasting churches; one in the “Shed Church” where the choir kicks up the dust and the chickens join in!  And the other in an old Anglican church that looks as though it’s been picked up from rural England and plonked down on the hillside of Morogoro! They say variety is the spice of life! 

The beach is alive with the sound of scurrying!

We had a short break on the coast in April and although it rained rather a lot, it was at least warm rain!  It being the rainy season meant that we almost had the place to ourselves, and the beach was bereft of people…… but certainly not of crabs!! Up and down the beach hundreds could be seen scurrying around, some of them daring to venture into the sea, only to be tossed back out again by the incoming surf!  Apart from the crab-watching we were able to put work aside for a few days, read a few books, wander up and down the secluded sands, and we even managed to brace the warmth of the Indian Ocean ….when the crabs weren’t looking! 

With regard to the next six weeks, you’ll see from the diary below that we’re on the road for much of them. The conference season kicks off in Moshi and then onwards to Dar nine days later, where months of prep becomes three days of teaching.  I am praying a line from the Believers Prayer in Acts 4:29: “Lord, enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness”. The results are indeed up to God but it would be awesome if Acts 4:31 could then also be applied: “The place where they were meeting was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly”!  To those who pray for us, thank you for your steadfast back-up and support, and to those who write or email, thank you for your encouragement – it’s good to hear from you.  Our next newsletter/blog update should be out in early July.   

Ruth finally finishes the course at the Morogoro
Language School and graduates!

For your prayers:

  • Praise God for the generous donation towards the conference centre building costs.
  • As always, for safety on the roads as we travel hundreds of kilometres over the next few weeks.
  • For Steve as he preaches in Swahili.
  • For Ruth as she undergoes her annual medical check-up in June.

Diary Dates for MAY/JUNE: 

25th May:   Drive to Tanga – taking new missionaries to their assignment
26th:         Drive to Moshi, northern Tanzania for Pastors’ Conference
27-29th: Bible teaching – eight sessions on the role of the Holy Spirit
30th: Drive back to Morogoro
31st: Drive to Dar 
1st June:    Kurasini Management meeting in Dar – return Morogoro
9th:          Travel to Dar for Pastors’ Conference 
10-12th: Bible teaching – eight sessions on the role of the Holy Spirit
13th: Flight to Nairobi: annual medical check-up for Ruth 
17th: Flight to Dar 
18th: Travel to Morogoro
21st:   Preaching at the Shed Church in Dakawa!  
22nd:         Steve’s birthday!

Random Photos of the Month: 

A simple home-made toy.  Remote control cars
can only be imagined.
Cutting from a local newspaper.
16p–64p hardly seems a killing in our economy!