Tanzania, Africa travel journal – day 10

categories: Travel

The bells of the church woke us up (except Jack) at 5:05am according to my watch and pealed for 5-6 minutes. I guess if you are walking up the hill you need more time to prepare. The rooster joined in at 5:30am. I managed to sleep until 4:30am but could not get back to sleep because of bad dreams. We cleaned up. Mr Mate offered to iron our clothes this morning and was fairly insistent, so I looked more well-pressed than I normally do for church. The power went out shortly before we left as they are rationing power. So my plans to recharge my camera battery were thwarted by forgetting that power during the day is unreliable.

We took a little tea or coffee and some yams for a quick breakfast before church. The yams were not our favorite Tanzanian food. Unfortunately the tea was pre-made and was very strong. Strong tea on a mostly empty stomach can make me nauseated so I tried only drinking half my cup but that still proved too much and I thought I would have to leave the service in the first 15 minutes to throw up. Fortunately the feeling passed in a few minutes. The first service started at 7:30 and went for over 2 hours.

The first service was in Swahili and we were told the second would be in Kichaga, the language of the chaga tribe but it sounded the same to my ear. The singing at the first service was all a capella. The second service had some brass and some electronic music, but too my ears the a capella singing of the Africans is the most beautiful. Of course we understood little of the service. Pastor Rick preached and Pastor Godbless translated the sermon. The sermon on the prodigal son left me in tears even the second time (which was hard because I was trying to record it).

At both services they had us come us and the pastors did a short introduction of each of us (This is Chris, he is a fundi ya computer). At first, the 9 of us filed in and sat on the left side. Then someone noticed that all the women were sitting on the right and the men on the left so the ladies left us.

When the time came for the offering we filed up to give our offering at the front with the rest of the group. They we saw a cross shaped box with 4 compartments each with a swahili name. I could not make anything

of the names so I just dropped in my offering. We found out later that the 4 names were the names of the 4 streets that comprise the parish.

Pastor Godbless was surprised when I said that nearly everyone from our church lives on a different street. These 4 streets each climb the mountain and we have been on 3 of them. Then right after that, they set out

a basket and people went up again. I was left without a guess what that was all about. Later we found that the first is for your pledge and people were dropping in envelopes. The second was a free will offering above the pledge. After church was out everyone recessed singing the last hymn and people congregated out the back door. Then one of the elders, Samuel, started auctioning off vegetables, eggs, fresh milk and even a rooster. If you are not able to meet your pledge in cash you can bring goods from your plot of land to be auctioned off and credited to your account.

After the second service, where firewood was also added, there was much laughter in the bidding. I could understand almost all of the numbers being used but then there was a word at the end I was not getting. Clearly some of the young men were involved in the joke. It turns out one of the young men were bidding but not keeping the goods, they were giving them to a friend (and it was his name that I could not decipher). He had just gotten married so they assumed he needed food in the

house.

We ate breakfast between the services. I arrived late as I ran back to the house to empty my iRiver digital recorder. I had filled it with singing at the first service and had not had space to record Rick’s sermon. We ate with more leisure than I expected because of the nature of African time the second service started nominally at 10:30 but really whenever the pastor shows up. That was an idea that appealed to Pastor Rick.

At the second service I took some video for Rick. I started in the balcony but very quickly figured out it was all children and my presence was somewhat distracting. I had asked Pastor Godbless for permission at lunch but that does not mean it didn’t distract adults and children alike so I probably videoed less than Pastor Rick would have liked. Audio recording was less obvious.

We ate lunch after church but it was have been about 1:30 by that time. As always there was way too much food. The last group they had were college students from Ohio who helped build the pastor’s house. We eat less than college students and were not working as hard. At lunch Pastor Godbless told us that word had spread already of our gift and that 25 more orphans from a nearby church had showed up. He will meet with the other pastor on Tuesday to figure out how to share with them. We had a fruit from Mr Mate’s yard which tasted like a mixture between a pineapple and a pear.

A soccer game started on the next field and there were to be sack races also but we opted for a hike up the hill, all except Rick who went with Pastor Godbless to pray with someone. We hiked up to Old Moshi which was where the original German fort was in this area since it has a view of a wide region. We toured the government primary school on the way with Mr Mate who is on the school board (primary is classes 1-7, there is not public Kindergarten although the church runs a free program). They are knocking down the old buildings and building new ones with some government funds given to the village.

We also saw the new secondary school which is expanding now that the government has mandated primary education (forms 1-4 and then 5-6, but I think this school may only have 1-4). Old Moshi still has some of the old buildings built in the early 1900s by the Germans as barracks which are used to house the students from the Lutheran secondary school at the top of the hill.

The signs on the school said “Thank you for speaking English” since secondary school is taught in English. We met with a teacher, the watchman and the head boy that Samuel was able to find (he is on the school board here, is the former chairman of the village and we learned he hopes to retire from his job as an accountant in 7 months to work on projects for the orphans). We also met a number of kids, especially girls at the school and Lois and Shareen, at least, have brought back the names of new pen pals. We still have not seen Kilimanjaro even though we have been climbing the foothills for the last few days. After our hike I washed up and took a nap.

For dinner we were presented with a very special Chaga honor of roast goat. I think Shareen and Susan were ready to become vegetarians on the spot when they saw the goat was still whole, head and all. It tasted much like a pig. It was surprisingly fatty. We also had more speeches, more singing by the choir and gifts from the ladies (in my case a picture of Tarangire).

After we came back to the house it started to rain softly; so far all our rain has come at night. The local red clay soil becomes mud very easily and carpets would be impractical in this area. Everyone seems to just have cement floors that can be easily cleaned. The church has mud scrapers outside.

by Chris Christensen

I am the creator of AmateurTraveler.com, a popular travel blog / podcast. I am also a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast, The Bible Study Podcast and the Passport Marketing and PR Podcast. I am the owner of BloggerBridge.com and a software consultant.

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