Monday, December 17, 2012

Church building requriements...

Land? Building permits? Surveying fees? Architectural drawings? Zoning clearance? How about a  MANGO TREE...

Back in May of 2012 the church in Fumagira helped Bonifice start a new church plant in the village of Kikano. They began meeting under a mango tree. 

At the beginning of the rainy season we purchased a tarp so the church could continue to meet in spite of the rain. Each week Bonifice arrives early in order to put up the tarp. And at the end of the service he takes it down and carries it back home. (This is done so that it is not stolen during the week.) 

Boniface continues to be faithful.  The church is now averaging 50-60 each Sunday. There are 30 baptismal candidates attending classes in preparation for our next baptism being held on Christmas Day.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cupcakes with sprinkles

Yesterday I made cupcakes with sprinkles for Joseph's 4th birthday. Joseph is Pendo's (our houselady) son. We try to do little things for her kids, so Abby and I frosted some cupcakes and put some colored sprinkles on top. Sprinkles I picked up at Walmart, for next to nothing, during out last trip to the States. They are available here, but cost about $7 for a bottle. Needless to say, with them being that expensive, most Tanzanians have never had them before. It was a special treat for little Joseph and his brothers.

When Pendo arrived to work today she told me how happy Joseph was and how he enjoyed the crunch of the sprinkles. He went from person to person and chewed on them so they could hear them crunching. He wanted to share his joy to all who would listen!

It truly is the small things in life that will bring us joy if we let them. What little things can you find joy in as you look for them? I'd love to read in the comments the things God shows you today. Be like Joseph and share your joy with me!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Witchcraft in Tanzania: CNN Report

Click here to view an article/video by CNN 
concerning witchcraft in Tanzania. 

Over the years we have tried to express the spiritual environment that we face as we bring the Gospel message into villages steeped in witchcraft. We have tried to describe and explain the nature of the witchcraft practiced in Tanzanian villages.  We found this CNN "Inside Africa" report to be fair and accurate. There is one part in the report where an actual witchdoctor is interviewed, and  she performs a ceremony of spirit cleansing on camera. Listen to her as she talks about the spirits that control her. Satanism and witchcraft are real, and we fight real demons as we seek to bring the light of the Gospel into villages where Satan has held these people in bondage for hundreds of years.

By Errol Barnett, CNN
October 8, 2012 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Casting out demons

Today we heard a commotion just beyond our backyard fence. After listening for a moment we could recognize the all too familiar words of "TOKA, TOKA, KATIKA JINA LA YESU, TOKA!" In English this means "out, out, in the name of Jesus come out!" 

Casting out demons is a huge practice in Tanzania. I'm not saying there isn't demon possession and obsession, especially in a  animistic society like Tanzania. However, it is often screamed over and over again, only to be done the following week because it didn't work.

As we heard the lady crying out and the man shouting toka, Bill decided to take Pastor Pelegrino with him to see what was going on. They found a woman tied up and flailing in the dirt. The man casting out the demon was shouting loudly, with sweat dripping down his forehead. This went on for some time when he finally gave up. 

That is when Bill stepped into the kibanda (little open hut) with his Bible. As soon as he began sharing from the Word of God the woman stopped wailing and flailing in the dirt. They untied her and she sat up in her right mind. She was able to listen and answer questions. Bill proceeded to share the gospel with her. She didn't get saved, but she definitely heard the Truth!

Afterward Bill pulled the man aside who had been trying to cast out the demon. He told him, "Brother, you have no power in yourself to cast out a demon. It is the Word of God that has power! You just saw for yourself the power the Word has."

Now we can't say if this woman really and truly is possessed by a demon. However, we do know that God uses His Word and we'll continue to wield the powerful Sword of the Spirit as we fight against our enemy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Singing in the rain...

Thank you for everyone who has been praying for rain.  The Lord has poured down His blessings - literally! Today while out on our morning walk Bill and I got caught in a downpour. However, rather than taking cover we chose to walk through the rain and spend some time thanking the Lord for answering our prayers and the prayers of many of you. 

Please continue to pray in the weeks ahead that the Lord would continue to rain down showers of blessings on East Africa. Good rains will help the crops to produce the much needed food. It will help those in the village to have food for the coming months. They will also be able to sell some of it and have money to pay for medical needs that might arise due to illnesses such a malaria. (Another child was recently buried in one of the villages where we have a church. He died because his parents didn't have the money to buy malaria medicine.) It will also bring down prices of food for those who live in the city. 

So as we count our blessing of rain, what blessings is our Heavenly Father raining down upon you? We'd love to hear about them in the comments so we can rejoice with you!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Salvation and a charm bracelet

Witnessing in Tanzania is nothing like in America. When we arrive at someone's hut we are offered the best seat available - usually a roughly made wooden chair. We sit outside and neighbors begin to gather. Yesterday was no exception. As Pastor Musa and I opened God's Word to share the Good News of the Gospel about 15 people gathered around to listen. One man in particular was especially attentive. About an hour later this young man said he wanted to receive Christ as his Savior.  

The next thing that happened has never happened to me personally. This young man, without us even talking about it, pulled off his charm (arm bracelet) and threw it down. He said now he didn't need a charm to ward off evil spirits anymore. Shall we say it again...

Please pray for Simoni to grow in his faith.

Friday, September 7, 2012

To bargain, or not to bargain??

Earlier this week our teammate, Lisa Newland, and I had fun shopping at an African Expo. It was interesting to see the different wares they were selling. Some from different areas of Tanzania, and some as far away as Uganda.

We also spent some time talking to a lady who is from Mwanza. She spoke English fluently - something we rarely ever hear. She was quite interesting to talk to. She teaches people how to do handy crafts that can be sold to make a living. She proceeded to tell us that one item may take hours and hours to complete. Then when the person tries to sell their wares people dicker over the price and the person might be left with little or no profit. However, if they've used all their money to travel into town to sell their wares, they have to sell them - even if they are practically giving them away - in order to get home. So they sell their wares far less than they are worth, only to go home discouraged and not wanting to waste their time again.

There is a conflict here. For the most part we bargain over everything we buy except groceries and medicines. (In fact, we've been known to bargain even in America at stores and with dentists!) Typically people start high, even higher for we wazungu (white people). The "rule" is to go about half of what they ask and then go back and forth until you agree on a price. So what are we to do when we are trying to bargain for a handmade item? I guess what we try to do, and will worker harder on now, is to think of how much we think the item is worth before we start the process. Then be happy when we agree to that price.

Below are the items I purchased. Most all of them I didn't even try to bargain because the price sounded reasonable right off the bat.

dress for my granddaughter made of kikoi

wall hanging (5 ft long)

cow horn (2 ft long) from Uganda

Friday, August 31, 2012


As you know, we just got back from a short trip to the States. We had a wonderful time and are ready to get back at the work God has called us to do.

When we got home Bill spoke with Pastor Pelegrino about all that has been happening while we've been gone. Sadly, he has had to deal with three different instances of adultery with some leaders at the Fellowship Baptist Church in Igekemaja. Please make this a matter of prayer as Bill walks Pastor Pelegrino through the process of dealing with this sin issue in the church.

However, all wasn't sad news. Pele also shared that he and Pastor Petro called together the various pastors/leaders from several of our churches for a planning meeting. Pele explained that we were not there, and one day we would be gone and they need to learn to stand on their own. Each of the men raised the money for travel and lunch. Pele said it was a good meeting and everyone walked away encouraged and excited. Of course we were thrilled to hear of their initiative!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Jet Lag

It's been a couple of months since I last posted. We just returned to Africa - about a day ago, but not really sure; seems like I lost a day somewhere - from our six-week, whirlwind trip to America. It's a quiet morning here at the Hampton Guest House in Nairobi, Kenya. Bill and Abby are still fast asleep while I've been up since about 4AM. Oh the joys of jet lag!

Since my mind is far from writing anything coherent, I thought I would try for a more funny approach...

How you know you are experiencing jet lag:

*  when you consider asking a stranger what the day is
*  when you put hair gel in your hand only to forget what it is and smear it all over your face
*  when you get giddy about every little thing and just can't stop laughing
*  for you ladies...when you're too tired to even shop

As the fog lifts I plan to write about our time with family, friends, and supporters. Until then pray for my sanity!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Around the World!

When is Father's Day celebrated around the world?

(taken from Baptist Missionary Women Blog)

We took a little survey of some missionary ladies around the world who follow this blog and asked them if and when Father's Day is celebrated in their parts of the world and in this post we will share with you what we found out!

We also asked missionary ladies to send in photos of their hubbies with their children or hubbies active in ministry. We hope you enjoy the photos of these faithful missionary fathers!

Stewart Schepers with son, Seth. (Dominican Republic)

Bill Brouwer with daughter, Abby. (Tanzania)

The following countries follow the US celebration of 
Father's Day:

Costa Rica 
New Caledonia and France - However, Mother's Day in these countries is the first Sunday in June. 

Bill Brouwer enjoying game time with kids at MKamp. (Kenya)

Father's Day is also celebrated in:

Honduras - March 19th
Germany ( two weeks after Mother's Day)
Australia - September 2
Lithuania - 1st Sunday in June
Malawi - October 15th
Argentina - August 24th
Brazil - 2nd Sunday in August
In Thailand, Father's Day coincides with the King's Birthday (December 5) because he is regarded as the Father of all Thai people. FYI: The first Father's Day in Thailand was December 5,1980. They had celebrated Mother's Day for 30 years before the first Father's Day.

Matt Gansemer with his children, (from left to right) 
Brenna, Ethan, and Clara 

Father's Day is NOT and officially recognized holiday in the following countries:

Uganda (some do "unofficially" celebrate it the same 
date as in the US)
Republic of Vanuatu

 ***The following is a quote from a missionary wife in Greenland -

  "In our five years here last year was the first we've seen any mention of Father's, Mother's (or Valentine's) Day. I think we're slowly being influenced and will see more as the years pass. We usually follow Denmark in almost everything, it just may take us a while. So, in Greenland I would say that we acknowledge the special days, but we don't really celebrate them. By "we" I'm referring to the Greenlanders, in our home we do remember the days and even have a special mention and/or gift in church. I should clarify and say that this is how it is done in our town. I had to spend a month in the Capitol last year and they were definitely more exposed and influenced to Western Culture. I did see many Valentine's decorations, etc... (this was in Feb-Mar) Since each town is isolated from the rest, we are all growing and changing at different rates." 

David Sterling (my kid's wonderful Daddy) after a 
Wednesday evening service. 

With Father's Day being on a Sunday, these missionary Dads pictured here and many others all over the world will have a busy day just like all their other Sundays.

Daniel Jacabo with his children. (Honduras)

First time pig hunting in the Northern Territory of Australia 
for Patrick Bauer.

Dear Faithful Fathers,
We pray you all can take some time to celebrate your special day with your family.

May God bless you abundantly as you continue to serve Him and raise up children who God may call to carry on in your footsteps continuing to take the gospel to the four corners of the earth!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Harvesting Rice

Each morning as I go for a walk I pass by these rice fields that are just down from our house. At first I didn't know if they would make it due to the lack of rain. However, when the rains did come they began to flourish. As the stalks began to grow I would watch as old men, women, or even children would stand in the middle of the rice paddies for hours. They had rocks in their hand ready to throw at any bird trying to steal the grains. Then it was time to let the paddies dry out in anticipation of cutting the stalks and removing the rice. This went on for a couple weeks. (Other farmers were happy with the continued rain since it came late this season. However, those wanting to harvest rice were hoping for sun!)

The long awaited day came and as Bill and I went for a morning walk there they were cutting down the stalks. As we returned home they had stalks around their feet and were beating bundle after bundle on a rock to remove the rice. It was quite interesting to watch them as they worked hard with very primitive means of harvesting their rice. (Notice the rock they are using to beat the ends of the stalks to remove the rice.)

I've watched for months the process of planting the seedlings. The carrying buckets of water when the rain was late in coming. The steady growth of the stalks. The patience of the people as they stood hour after hour in the fields protecting the grain from birds. The arduous task of wading through muddy water - oftentimes with snakes in it - to cut the stalks. Then the final task of beating the rice off the stalks. A much worked for and anticipated harvest!

This reminds me of our ministry as missionaries. We plant the seed of the Gospel in the hearts of people. We water those seeds with the Truth of the Word. We then need to be patient and protect these new believers from the lies of the Enemy. We also wait with anticipation for the day when Jesus will return and the Great Harvest will take place. 

And another angel came out of the temple, crying 
with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in 
thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for 
the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Revelation 14:15

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

People Watching

Downtown Mwanza, Tanzania

Don't you just love people watching?! Maybe at the mall when you sit down for a few minutes before you continue shopping. At a ballgame in between watching the game. Or perhaps it's in an airport. Wherever you find yourself enjoying a bit of people watching, it's always interesting.

Here in Africa I have done my fair share of people watching. Really it can't be helped. Much time is spent waiting. (If you know a patient missionary it's probably because they've done a lot of practicing!) Well, today I wasn't waiting, but rather I was walking. Walking is another thing we do a lot of. It is easier - and safer - to just park the car and walk to all the stops we need to make in town. Today was no different. So since we have to walk, why not enjoy it more by people watching! What struck me today was...

  • Two men holding hands. I remember when we made our survey trip to Kenya and I thought, "Wow, I had no idea there were so many g@y men here!" In actuality the custom is for men to hold hands in friendship. You won't catch them holding their wife's hand, but another man's - definitely.
  • Neckties for sale. There are street vendors all over the place selling their wares. I saw one guy who had a nice array of neckties. The part that made me smile was the fact that they were already tied and ready to be slipped over the head of the new owner. I can think of a few guys in our sending church who would like one of those!
  • Dressed for a wedding. Ladies here wear their nicest clothes when they go to town. I often feel way under dressed in my jean skirt and t-shirt. One lady today had on a bright pink dress with sequins.  
  • Seasonal clothing. You would think we don't have seasonal clothing in Africa, but nope. I often see men wearing a tobogon and a winter 80 degree weather! But then I also break out the sweatshirts when it gets anywhere below 75.
  • T-shirts with sayings. It's always interesting to read the sayings on people's shirts here. With the language here being Swahili, and most used shirts being sold in English, it can be quite hilarious to read what they say. One time I saw a man walking down the street with a shirt that had an arrow pointing down and the word BABY above it. 
People watching doesn't start, nor stop with this mzungu (white person). We are watched continuously. From the time I walk out of my gate I have people watching everything I do. I also know for a fact that they find our kizungu ways quite entertaining. 

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:"
Proverbs 17:22a

Sunday, April 22, 2012


We were headed to church in the village of Kitongo today when we had to take a detour.  Detours in the bush can be quite interesting. One is never sure where the "road" is going to take them - past gardens, cows, through ditches, or what. It could be a decent detour, or like on other trips we've taken it can be a maze of thinking we'll never arrive at our destination.

Today as we drove down paths in the middle of nowhere I thought about a different kind of detour we had to take in this village. The detour we had to take was dealing with the leader who had lied repeatedly. It was a difficult time of confronting the leader with his sin, and explaining to the congregation the need for him to step down for a period of time. In Tanzanian culture even pastors can just say sorry for their adultery and it is expected that he'll not only be forgiven, but will continue in his current ministry. The church was very young and didn't understand the needed actions. For months Bill gave extra attention to this church. He preached messages on what true forgiveness means, the consequences of sin, and how a leader is held to a higher standard. It was not an easy time for this leader, for the church, nor for us.

Just like a detour that can be like a maze that makes us question the outcome, so did this detour make us wonder what the end result would be. Would the leader repent and eventually be allowed to lead again? Would the church grasp the necessity of him stepping down?  Would this fledgling church survive such counter measures to their cultural ideas?

That was just over a year ago. The detour was long and windy, but I'm thrilled to report that this church is doing great! As we sat in the service with about 100 people present, we listened as this same leader - now  the pastor - as he led the service with a humble heart, and we rejoiced.  We rejoiced that this man submitted to the Lord and repented. We rejoiced that God is full of grace and is using this man again. We rejoiced that through this detour God reminded us again that He is faithful!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Resurrection Party

Not only did the Lord bless us with a fruitful Easter Sunday with our Tanzanian brothers and sisters in Christ, but we also enjoyed some time with our American brothers and sisters in Christ.  We hosted a resurrection party at our house which included 10 adults and 14 children. Here are some of the highlights...

Game time!  Abigail got online and chose some Minute-To-Win-It games and organized them to include all age groups. Adults and children alike had fun. Those playing, and those watching!

After the church food on the grounds (click here to read about it) we decided we needed some American food! The big hit was Lisa Newland's  chocolate fondue. 

Some WONDERFUL ladies from our sending church,  Central Baptist Church in Greeneville, TN  sent me some Easter candy for the missionary kids. They sent me  30 pounds of candy!  They also sent some Easter grass to put in each baggy. Such a great idea except one thing... not one of the MKs had a clue what it was! However, whether they grew up in America or Africa, they surely  knew what to do with all that candy!!!

A  big thanks  to all who sent the candy and helped to make this a special Easter for the MKs!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easter Series Part 3


We've planned. We've prepared. We've visited. Now the day is here!

Every Easter we have a combined church service for all our churches who are able to attend. It is always a big day with much excitement. This year was no exception!

The women gathered early on Thursday to begin the tedious task of cleaning the 385 pounds of rice to be cooked on Sunday. The men slaughtered the cow Sunday morning at 5:00AM. The women arrived at 6:00AM to begin cooking. They all worked hard to provide a special meal for a HUGE crowd of people.

Now doesn't that look yummy?! That's what the beef looks like after it's been cooked - stomach, cartilage, hoofs, eyes, and all!  At this point I should be honest and  say that we desperately miss potlucks back in America!

People started arriving from  the  villages of Fumagira, Mayoka, Kitongo, Nyamasale, and even Mwanza town. 

It is amazing how many people you can fit into the back of these trucks.

With six choirs, and the children from each of the churches planning to sing and quote Scripture, Pastor Pelegrino tried to keep things moving.

The church was full to capacity with children sitting in the isles to attempt to make room for the adults to sit. However, there were still adults standing in the back. There is no way to know for sure how many were there, but we estimate somewhere around 700. 

Pastor Petro preached a clear message of salvation and 13 people came forward to receive Christ.

After the four-hour service people gathered outside for the baptisms. Due to lack of water we tend to baptize twice a year. Once during the Christmas service, and once at Easter. Sixty-three people were baptized.

To end the day bowls and bowls of rice, beans, and meat were served up. People went away that day with hearts and bellies full!

To read Part 1 click here. To read Part 2 click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter Series Part 2


There was much work in preparation for our big, combined Easter service.  With plans for baptizing, the youth had to go to a watering hole about 1 1/2 miles away to collect water in jugs and bring it back to the church. It took several trips to fill up the tank.

One of the leaders, Ngamba, is building what will be a temporary cooking hut. The ladies will be cooking a whole cow, rice, and beans for a BIG crowd.

The children also got in on helping to prepare. Here they are bringing corn husks for making the walls of the cooking hut. 

The ladies also came and decorated the church for the special occasion. This section was for the pastors and their wives who came from the various six churches.