Barclay Viewforth Church congregation on Blackford Hill

The End is Just the Beginning

The End is just the Beginning

We now have less than 24 hours left in this wonderful country. We moved our last buckets of sand/rocks/etc. today and will return to visit both the homes to say farewell and leave gifts tomorrow. To say that this trip has been an amazing adventure is an understatement – every day has had a new challenge or something special has happened which makes everyone smile. Allow me to share something of the last few days with you before summing up. On Monday, our still depleted team set to work at Shukuru’s home, His mum, Mama Fortunata, now makes a point of coming out to greet us each day, with handshakes and kisses – she is just so grateful for the work going on. As we worked we were listening to some praise songs as we passed bricks along the chain gang. The words of the song Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord swelled into the air as we worked. The words which struck a chord…

”You’re the Defender of the weak, You comfort those in need, You lift us up on wings like eagles.”

The words were just so apt for where we were and what we were doing. God does, and will, provide where there is need – even providing a rag-tag bunch of volunteers of all ages and with various backgrounds to help 2 families in great need. Shukura was at school when we arrived on site, but after school he came bounding up to meet us, changed his clothes and then set to work with us. The enthusiasm of this young boy is great to see. He would be a welcome addition to any family….but we are not taking him home!

Later that day we welcomed the safari travellers back, before the rest of the evening was spent sorting out the donated goods from home. People have been very generous, with gifts, clothing, blankets, school stationary, and donations to buy certain items. Thank you for all your support. With a full team on board, Tuesday saw us heading back to the desert to do some more work on the home for Mama Agnes and her family. The day started ‘gently’ with moving 200 bricks from the pile to the corner of the house in 18 minutes). After a break for water we then had to move 200 more and we did this in record time of 13.?? minutes (with that also allowing a short break for the despatching of a scorpion!) We also had to move rocks to the inside of the house, which were arranged on the mud soaked floor (because the team had had to fetch water and throw it on) – these would be the basis on which the cement would be laid for the floors. Frequent water breaks were required because of the heat but every team member looked out for others to ensure that no-one either over-exerted themselves or took ill. As a result of this everyone has remained healthy throughout the trip. More foundations were dug for the patio area and these then filled with rocks. We left the real ‘work’, the laying of the bricks, to the professionals, happy to know that this home would be built so much quicker because of all the small things we have done.

Our evening took on the now traditional dinner & ceilidh with the TAWREF staff and volunteers, our drivers and Pastor and Mrs Oforo (from ELCT). We had even managed to bring a couple of tins of haggis so that our Tanzanian friends could sample our delicacy, as well as tablet and shortbread. The evening of fun and lots of laughter ended with the Orcadian Strip the Willow, like you’ve never seen it before, and Auld Lang Syne.

Wednesday was the last day on the worksite, with the exception of farewell visits on our final day. The team divided to do some work at both sites. Our team had an interesting drive to Shukuru’s house – on the way up the mountain we saw a lady lying in the road. There were a few people around but no-one was going near her. We stopped and 2 of us ran out to her with our first aid kit. She seemed to be having some sort of seizure. Once we put her into the recovery position my immediate thought was dial 999….silly, I know, but it did make me think later about what does happen in such situations. When it was safe to do so we moved the lady over to the grass. By this time some people had gathered round (we were told later it was because the ‘mzungus’ were there). We left here with a snack and a drink, and, hopefully, in the care of others to look out for. She wasn’t there when we made the return trip so hoping she is okay.


We carried on to our work site and set to work. Shukuru had been waiting for us to arrive before setting off to school so we were able to give him a new school bag containing new shoes, shorts and a Vine Trust t-shirt. He disappeared for a minute and reappeared wearing his new clothes – these were probably the very first brand new clothes he had ever owned.

It was with great relief that we moved our last buckets of sand and gravel, but with singing and dancing too. During our lunch break (with food shared with the fundis and children who were around) I witnessed one of the most touching things of the whole trip. Ann, a first timer and retired physio, went with Elly to have a chat with Mama Fortunata about her sore leg. Ann then applied oils and massaged her damaged muscles.

Ann tends to Mama Fortunata
Ann tends to Mama Fortunata

It may not sound very much, but to see the picture of Ann kneeling in the mud, in front of Mama Fortunata’s old house, and using her hands to bring a little healing to this lady almost brought a tear to the eye. This was a real serving of the lost, the last and the least, of biblical proportions. It didn’t take very much but to see Mama’s smile will have made Ann’s day.



Chris, Elaine, Mhairi, & Robin
Chris, Elaine, Mhairi, & Robin

At the end of work we were able to pay a visit to “Banana House”, one of the homes built by BVC volunteers last year. It was great to see Mama Mkabisha’s smiling face again. She was delighted to see us and told us that her new home had mad a tremendous difference to her family. She seemed to have more of a spring in her step this year and looked healthier. Having a home may not eradicate the poverty but it can go some way to easing some of the problems which perpetuate it.

This has been an amazing trip – a great team of Vine Trust volunteers; enthusiastic (as always) TAWREF volunteers and support; and an opportunity to meet the most amazing people. Our Tanzanian friends will go the extra mile, will smile, even in the depths of despair, be really grateful for the very small contribution we make to their lives and so much more. We have seen God at work in all the small things as well as some bigger stuff – many thanks to everyone who has been holding us in prayer. There is always more to be done, so keep praying.

I’ve called this blog ‘the end is just the beginning’ – it is! As we near the end of our home-building exploits it is a new beginning for team members, who have never tried anything like this before – our lives are changed through this work.. It’s also a new beginning for the 2 families who will move into their finished homes in 4-6 weeks time (approx). We also hope that our presence here will be a new beginning to the many people we have come into contact with – as we bring a sense of hope. People care. Life doesn’t have to be all bad.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us – many of the team are already talking about coming back again next year (see for dates for future trips) . This is a real holiday with a difference. You may come out thinking that you are going to help change people’s lives, but in fact our lives are changed too.

We are helping to change the world brick by brick.

Mungu awabariki – God bless you.

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