Flexing the sinews and ligaments

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

When we last wrote we were just about to head off to the UK for a short break with family and to celebrate my (Ruth’s) parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful time and made many special memories. Christmas was spent with my parents and family (with the obligatory pork pie for Christmas breakfast—it’s an East Midlands tradition!). The anniversary celebration on Boxing Day went very well and it was great to meet up with siblings and cousins that we haven’t seen for years. My parents even received a lovely card from HM The Queen!

The Willows clan at the Diamond Anniversary do, four generations together.

Then it was north, travelling through snow, heading to Scotland for a few days in Nairn with my sister and over to Elgin for New Year with Steve’s sister and the wider Lancaster clan, which, with 8 adults and 6 kids in one house, was a noisy, active and fun time! In between we managed a quick overnight visit to our pastor and his wife in Corsham and a couple of days in Bicester with Steve’s brother. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip, not least feeling cold again!

The Lancaster clan on Lossie beach  Yes, it was cold!

Our journey back to Africa was broken by a few days in Kenya attending Unit Leader meetings. This was the first time that I had attended these meetings and it was an interesting experience seeing first-hand this part of Steve’s ministry. AIM’s Eastern Region comprises Tanzania and Kenya and each country is split into different units with a leader being responsible for member care and for implementing the strategy set by the Region. As you can imagine, a lot of administration comes with this role and this was reflected in the meetings with discussions on annual leave paperwork, language learning requirements and immigration matters—not terribly exciting stuff but necessary in order to facilitate AIM’s missionaries who are at the coal face of planting Christ-centred churches in Africa. So spare a thought—and a prayer—for Steve as he juggles this role with his other work. Perhaps these tasks are the ligaments and sinews that Paul talks about in Colossians 2: 19—supporting and holding together the whole body.

Talking of sinews and ligaments….Steve is in training to run the Kilimanjaro half marathon in March. His brother Ian and sister-in-law Kerri are coming out to run it too and to visit us for a week. I will be happy to wait at the finish line to cheer them all in!

Steve is now well and truly into preparation for this year’s Institute seminars. He is basing his talks on 1 Peter and has 11 sessions to prepare. His method is to prepare them all in English first and then, with the help of a Tanzanian friend, to tackle the mammoth task of translation into Swahili. We are thanking God that he has completed 8 talks so far with 3 to do. He is planning to start translation work mid-March. Please pray for him!

Meanwhile I have been handling the usual tasks of admin and accounts for Sanga Sanga Retreat Centre. There is one important task coming up that fills me with foreboding—the annual project report for the Eastern Region Office! It’s due in by the end of February so in the next couple of weeks I will be immersed in the books and trying not to get confused! I am thankful for the help of Brenda, my accountant friend, who is able to see the wood for the trees and translate a year’s worth of Tanzanian shilling transactions back into US dollars for the report!  Please pray for us!

Another aspect of my role is to teach English. Last week I ran a course for Intermediates. In amongst the grammar teaching were fun, games and lively discussions that really got the students talking! These courses are a great opportunity to demonstrate what a ‘real’ Christian is like, in front of people who may be nominal Christians or Muslims. Two of the students requested Bibles but, seeing that I’d brought 5, the other students also wanted a copy.

Happy English students with their certificates!

Radio gaga? I have been given the exciting opportunity of teaching English on the radio! Faith Baptist Church in Morogoro is setting up a local radio station and has invited me to record some short English teaching programmes. This is a new and unfamiliar venture—how to teach English with no direct interaction with students. Watch this space for more news!

White-throated Bee-eaters – another ‘cop’ for us

10th anniversary! On 19th January we celebrated 10 years of marriage with a weekend away on the coast, in fact on a small tropical island! Getting there involved a short journey by motorboat (having waded out to it to begin with!). We had two days of unwinding, swimming, reading and resting. There really wasn’t much else to do on the island! We took our binoculars in hope, not expecting to see much, but boy, were we surprised! We saw 5 or 6 ‘new’ birds with some wonderful names, including Caspian Tern, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and the Blue-naped Mousebird. Beautiful birds and two very happy bird-watchers!

Diary Dates

18th Feb                      Steve preaching at AICT Morogoro (2 services)
March/April                  1 Peter prep for Steve
2nd-10th March           Holiday. Kilimanjaro half marathon! Bro Lancs coming out.
30th Mar-11th Apr       Steve leading Oak Hall Israel trip

Prayer and Praise

  • Praise God for the progress Steve has made to date with his preparation. Pray that it will continue to flow and that the translation work will go quickly and
  • Pray for Steve as he juggles this prep with his Unit Leader work, and for Ruth as she prepares financial reports.
  • Pray for the 5 English students who received Bibles, and the opportunity to teach English over the radio.
  • Praise God for 10 years of marriage!

Thanks for all your prayers and support,

Steve & Ruth

Bird of the month

Pin-tailed Whydah, seen in our garden.

My Mum and the Queen – but which is which?!