Barclay Viewforth Church congregation on Blackford Hill

We Came, We Saw, They Conquered

BVC folks join Vine Trust Tanzania Team

We came, we saw, they conquered…our hearts. That’s life in Tanzania. There are so many amazing people here – they may not have much but they would give you their last shilling.

In a whole new experience for us, 5 BVC folks joined a  Vine Trust Easter work party (normally we would go in the summer). Ann Paterson, a newcomer to this, joined frequent VT fliers Robin, Mhairi, Chris and Elaine to head to Moshi, in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania on Maundy Thursday with other team members. A 4am rendez-vous at Edinburgh airport did not dampen the spirits or enthusiasm of the team. It also gave us an opportunity to meet together for the first time (although pity help the men at the airport who were accosted by one team member asking if they were Malcolm.

After flights to Kilimanjaro, via Amsterdam, we arrived later that evening to be met by the Vine Trust Tanzanian staff, Ben and Elly, along with our good friend Gilly (who has spoken at BVC before). For some of us it was like greeting long lost friends, for others the start of new friendships.

As part of our team orientation on Friday morning we were asked to fill plastic eggs with goodies we had brought from home, ready for us to take to the children’s home at Kimashuku that afternoon for an Easter egg hunt. Kimashuku now has 2 children’s homes, the first one completed in 2011, the 2nd in October 2014. BVC members have been involved in the construction of both.

Ordinary Children

A Kimashuku welcome is one that needs to be experienced – children rushing to welcome us as we stepped out of the cars. They are very good at remembering the names of Vine Trust volunteers who have visited several times (I wish I could do the same). After the welcome we were able to move into the dining area of the new house – it’s amazing to seem the improvements since we worked on it last summer. There, we were all treated to cake and juice as Robin had a very significant birthday that day. We sat with the children around tables and were able to get to know them a bit better. It’s been a real privilege  to watch them grow over the last 4 years.

  • Nehma, a lost little girl 4 years ago, is now 12. She is happy and contented and now attends secondary school. She hopes to become a teacher.
  • A child at the Kimashuku Children's home
    Goodluck wants to be a pastor

    Goodluck, once shy and retiring, is now much more confident, and would like to be a pastor.

  • Emmanuel has dreams of becoming President.

They are all ordinary children who, through no fault of their own, have suffered much in their young lives. Now, as a result of being looked after and cared for by the local church and educated at the Rafiki School, they have hopes and dreams like most other children. They conquered our hearts a few years ago and we hope and pray that our heavenly Father will continue to bless them as they grow upEveryone who has been on a trip, helped to fundraise or attended our fundraising events, or prayed for this work has had a hand in this. Thank you to everyone. We can help change the world, brick by brick.

A Good Friday message

Drama scene of the crucifixion
Jesus Carries his cross


Later in the afternoon I walked along the path to the new church building to take some photos. Pastor Sipu was close by and suggested that I should go in as the young people were re-enacting the trial and crucifixion of Jesus as part of a service. Although it was all in swahili it was easy to follow and extremely realistic – it gave me some time out to remember the price that was paid for me in Christ’s death, a message that these young people and families had certainly taken to heart.

Saturday was our 1st work day. The whole team travelled together to the one site. An article in the BVC April Link magazine tells the story of Mama Fortunata and her son (we originally thought it was  a girl) Shukuru. They live in a house held together with twigs and rags outside of Moshi, in the same area we built the “Banana House” last year. Their house is at the bottom of a slope and, when it rains, the house is flooded. Mama Fortunata has constructed a makeshift shelter for them to sleep outdoors when that happens. A new home is desperately needed. After introductions we set to work alongside the local fundis (builders), clearing the area the house was to be built on. The hard work was punctuated by frequent water breaks as the heat and the humidity was energy sapping for us. They say on Scotland that if you don’t like the weather, not to worry as another season will be along in a minute…so it was here as we were caught in a massive downpour. One of the local neighbours allowed us to take shelter in her porch..muddy boots and all! When the weather eased a bit we continued to ‘chain-gang’ buckets of sand along to the building site. We also discovered that Mama Fortunate had been looking out for us during the downpour and had moved or covered our bags to keep them dry. Helping people is not a one way street.

Easter Sunday – always a very special time at Barclay Viewforth Church. Although we were sad to be missing out on Blackford Hill, bacon butties, the main celebration at 11.00 (and the Origin Scotland event in the evening) we knew that we were going to have a special day too. We left the hostel early to attend the KCMC service at 8.30….only to get there and discover that this service was joining with the 10.00am swahili service. We then tried to attend another English speaking service, and after queueing for ages to get in….yes, queuing, we discovered that there was going to be a children’s service. We ended up at Uhuru Chapel for our Easter worship in swahili. It was a simple service, with some beautiful singing (and shimmying) from the girl’s school choir. Yesu amefufuka. Jesus is Risen.

We came back to the hostel to allow us to set up a skype call to BVC. It was great to see some friendly faces during the set up (isn’t technology wonderful?) We headed off for lunch before joining our church family for a few minutes during the Easter Celebration. It was really special for us (and I’ve heard that folks back home thought it was good too).

Our afternoon was spent in a variety of ways as some of the team went to visit some of the sites, others a coffee plantation, and others did some shopping (and enjoyed coffee and cake…after all it is Easter!) Unfortunately the chocolate egg rolling did not take place on the slopes of Kilimanjaro due to the extreme heat, but you can’t win them all.

Although Easter Monday is a holiday for most people, even in Tanzania, it’s not for us as we will return to Mama Fortunata’s house to carry on the work.

Praying that the hope and joy of the Resurrection will sustain you all, as it does us.

Mugu awabariki  – God bless you all.

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