For those of you who are earnestly checking my blog everyday, I appologize that I have disappointed you for so many days in a row. I have hoped to write this many times in the past week, but have been unable. In Tanzania, there is one nationalized electricity company, which when it determines it "necessary," may turn of the power grid in certain areas as it sees fit. Everyday in the last 10 we have been without power for some part of the day. While the power does come back on eventually, the internet connection doesn't always come back with it. So, long story short, this is the first time I have been here with time to write and the internet was working. (I did tell many of you that constant communication would not always be possible.)
Anyway, I have now completed my second week of Swahili training in Morogoro and today began my third (by the way, Monday mornings at school are the same on every continent). I can introduce myself with confidence and carry a mildly interesting conversation. This is to say that I have been speaking and studying for three weeks, so I am not sure whether I am saying it all right, but everyone seems to be understanding me well enough.
This weekend, I was given the opportunity to travel again. On Saturday afternoon, I traveled to the cattle market at Sokoine. This is much like a cross between a county fair and a flea market, except that the food is slaughtered on the spot. It was a great time and an interesting experience. The cattle market is held every other Saturday. Masaai bring cattle and other livestock to market and sell each cow individually, setting their prices against all others. There are perhaps more than a hundred other vendors selling everything from knives to beads, clothing, shoes, and everything else you may need. This is the weekend gathering for everyone, so there were probably 1000 people there, and as I was with Pastor Hafermann, it seemed as though everyone wanted to say hello.
Sunday, I travelled with Pastor Hafermann on a preaching trip to the village of Kambala. About 2 hours from Morogoro, it was not too far, and half of the drive was on paved roads, so that was a plus. The service was 3 hours long (which in the US would never be allowed, I am told). During the service and soon afterward, I met two incredible people. The first, a deaf-mute since birth, was all smiles to greet the Pastor and his guests. He could not say anything, but "voiced" his excitement to see us. At first I was skeptical of his faith when he came to church, but while one of the choirs was singing, he proceeded to the front of the choir to direct, in perfect time. It seemed miraculous that a deaf man, and mute, could direct a choral group in time, but I later learned that he has learned to feel the vibrations in the foundations and can "feel" the music. I watched him though much of the service (as I can only understand a little of the actual service). I realized that he is as faithful as the rest, perhaps moreso than the rest. He "sings" and praises, takes communion, and gives offering. I was humbled immediately.
The second man I met after the service is a changed man. Some people tell stories of 180 degree reversals in life: this is one of them. Moreto is brother to the Laibon, who is the political head of the Parakuyo people, and also what we would call a witch doctor. Moreto was also a witch doctor and practiced black magic until his conversion. One day he realized that his work was wrong, and brought all his tools and his chair to the church at Kambala (the chair was important as it was the seat from which he would curse people). He asked to be baptized and that someone fetch oil. After his baptism and repenting for his practices, he piled all his tools, dark objects, and his chair in a pile before the church, doused it in oil, and burnt it all. Since then, he has faithfully attended church and become a reformed christian. I was introduced to his four wives and found that he has 50 children as well. (For those of you who are confused, having multiple wives is common practice and not strictly against any code of the church.)
Having been thoroughly humbled for the day and had my fill of goat stew and rice, I returned back to Morogoro ready as ever for sleep. I woke up this morning and started everything all over again. But hey, today I spoke Swahili without really realizing what I was saying, and it came out right to what I meant to say, so there is hope for me yet.
Blessings to all at home and elsewhere.