Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Church With The Mbugwe

This post will have some photos of the Sunday that Julia and Viggo took us to a church located in one of the Mbugwe villages. First, below are a couple of photos of the first "workshop" that Julia and Viggo had at one of the villages a few weeks before that Sunday. I think it is important, because you will see that we were welcomed warmly and with a lot of special events. That is because Julia and Viggo had already been traveling from village to village, getting to know the Mbugwe pastors. The various pastors and their congregations are excited about the prospect of getting scriptures in their own language. The language is currently only spoken, no writing. So there will be lots and lots of hard work of which the workshop was just the very beginning. Julia and Viggo have to accumulate vocabulary, understand the sounds and decide how to represent them with an alphabet. They will have to learn the grammar for Mbugwe. While they are doing all that, they need to gain a deeper understanding of Mbugwe culture. Cultural context will be important in deciding how to best translate so that they will communicate effectively and help the Mbugwe understand the scriptures.
This first workshop is taking place in the middle of an Mbugwe village. You can see houses and fences in the background.
The church that we visited had one of the largest church buildings in the area. It is built of bricks with a dirt floor and a metal roof. The windows and doorways are openings in the walls.

We sat in the back so that we would not distract people during the sermon. Here is shot looking forward in the building before everyone had arrived.

Eventually the pews became filled until there was standing room only. This shot shows Julia sitting on the women's side of the aisle. The ladies helped out by holding Daniel during the church service.

Worship was lively. Lots of hymns were sung accompanied by a battery powered keyboard. One of the local pastors preached a sermon in Swahili. Even though the audience was almost 100% Mbugwe, the hymns and scriptures are in Swahili, so the sermons are in Swahili. Comprehension of Swahili varies widely, and any one of these folks would find it far easier to understand the sermons and biblical concepts if they were presented in Mbugwe. Below a line of dancers enters in for a special period during the worship where the singing was in Mbugwe and traditional dancing was performed. It was a treat for everyone. The crowd loved it.

The striped sticks are used a lot. I asked how they were made. The bark is removed from slender poles. The stripes are burned by holding a hot iron against the stick while rotating it.

Barbara and I are sorry that we forgot to bring our video camera that day. The still shots cannot convey all the movement and sound. The Mbugwe have a particular dance where they gather in a circle facing each other and bend at the waist while undulating their shoulders. There is a still shot of that below.

Near the end of the service, Barbara, Samuel, and I were asked to step up to the front. We were given gifts and many kind words were spoken. Julia translated.

In the shot below, we posed with a couple of the pastors. Folks had come from a number of different villages to attend. I was asked if I wanted to say a few words. Fortunately, I had seen one lady wearing a T Shirt that had "Jesu ni Bwana" on it. I knew bwana was a word like boss or lord. So I was able to call out "Jesus is Lord" in Swahili. Julia had learned a few words of Mbugwe, so she thanked the congregation in Mbugwe. That was a big hit.

After the service we were treated to a dinner of rice with stew on it and bottes of soda. We sat on folding chairs with a number of the local pastors. For Sam, Barbara, and I the language barrier was a bit of problem. But Julia was able to translate back and forth between Swahili and English.
Below is a shot of a few of the many children who gathered around to stare unabashedly at us. Occasionally a child would call out "Good Morning, Teacher", which was one of the few English phrases they knew. One little girl counted to ten in English while I tried to match her in Swahili.
As we first began to drive out of the village, I got the shot below of one of the houses. Sticks are loosely woven into a wall. Then mud it packed among the sticks to fill all the spaces. The roof is thatch.
It was great to be able to actually meet a representative group of the people to whom Viggo and Julia will be pouring out their lives. Active Christians are a minority among the 25,000 or so Mbugwe people. So the translation work will be important for the churches, but it will also be very important for enabling evangelism. Wycliffe often works with the translators to supply literature and films, such as the Jesus film, in the local language as the translation progresses.
The Mbugwe are primarily farmers, so the villages are small and scattered widely. After Julia and Viggo have learned more of the language and the culture, they will very likely want to find a house in one of the villages, rather than live only in Babati. They will also be recruiting workers from among the Mbugwe to join them in the translation effort.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Life in Babati

I had trouble finding data, but I believe the population of Babati is in the tens of thousands. It felt smaller (more like Philomath, population 5000). I suppose the narrow streets, relatively few cars, and small buildings all contributed to that smaller feel. Nonetheless, Babati is a relatively large population center compared to Mgugu a half hour away. Mgugu is sort of the epicenter of the Mbugwe populated region. For now, it was much easier to find housing and get established in Babati than it would have been to move into a village like Mgugu.

Here we are walking down the side street that goes to Julia and Viggo's house. Julia and Viggo live in a neighborhood that is about a 45 minute walk from central Babati.

Here is a neighbors house (below), but that is also a neighbors house above. I didn't get the impression that there was zoning or rich versus poor neighborhoods. A really nice house might be next door to the simplest of huts.

Here is a roadside stand on the outskirts of town. There are lots of these. Each has a variety goods and services to offer. Each seemed a bit unique in it's offering.

Below the road enlarges as it approaches city center.

This is a new school building, one of the nicest public buildings in town.

You can see the small hospital next to the school.

Now we begin to approach the central part of town.

Public transport varied. Often folks rode in the backs of trucks or trailers. There were also minbuses that were packed with 15 or 20 people (about the size of a VW van).

The streets were lined with low buildings like this one. There were very few larger buildings.

A shop that was big enough to have a room in a building usually spilled out onto the sidewalk as below (and yes, I have a gut, but here it is amplified by my travel wallet under my shirt).

You might think the scene below was out in the country side. No, it is the road immediately across from the shop I am standing at above.

Here is the interior of the local produce market. There was a central building shown here. The market spilled out into the square nearby.

One day I got really hungry, so we stopped shopping and had a meal at one of the nicer restaurants in town. That really isn't saying a lot, but the food was good and we didn't get sick.
The plate of rice topped with a meat stew would be a typical upscale meal.
We also ordered a half kilogram of bbq'd meat. There was a fly covered carcass hanging nearby. When someone ordered, the cook hacked random pieces off and tossed them on the grill. There was no discernible order to how the pieces were hacked off; bone, fat, skin, internal organs?, and meat are heaped together on the platter.
The white stuff next to the meat is "ugali". That is boiled corn meal that the waiter referred to as porridge. It is completely bland and has been boiled and cooled to make a thick substance something like very stiff mashed potatoes. Ugali is the local staple. One fellow told me that rice cost about four times as much per serving as ugali. Although it is bland, if it is the main dish it will usually be topped with some boiled greens or other vegetables. Adding meat is going upscale.

That's BBQ sauce and a little pile of salt on the plate next to the meat.

This square surrounded by low buildings full of shops reminded me of a strip mall. Some of the larger squares like this were full of people. Intercity buses literally hurtled into the busiest square honking like crazy. I have to believe that people get run over on a pretty regular basis.
The buses drive as fast as possible wherever they go. We saw one flipped over by the side of the highway as we were driving home one night. We saw another going around some stuck trucks by driving through a ditch that was plenty challenging for our Land Rover.

We drove into the square and parked near the seamstress shop that was making cushion covers for Julia and Viggo's new living room furniture.

Bicycles were much more common than cars. But people on foot were much more common than bicycles. I was hesitant to photograph people head on, so you don't get much feel for the fact that the center of town has lots of pedestrians. Many carried bundles on their heads. A lot of the bikes were pushed and loaded with heavier loads.

The sign must be old, because this is not a guest house or bar. This is the entrance to the tiny carpenters shop where the wooden parts of Julia and Viggo's furniture was built. If you want the wood stained, you have to buy pigment and bring it to the carpenter who mixes it up into stain and applies it.
Everyone stared at us every where we went. Especially if we got out of the car and walked. Babati is hours from the nearest touristy area. So white faces are still unusual enough to attract a lot of attention. If we stayed in one place very long we soon had a crowd of children milling around us. Often they would say "Good Morning Teacher", apparently that was the one bit of English they got at school. One little girl showed me that she could count to ten in English. Of course the kids (and adults) seemed to enjoy it when I stumbled through the few Swahili phrases that I learned.

Grandpa Gone Wild

I felt this overwhelming urge to share Daniel pictures. At least I'm not mailing a 50 megabyte file to my whole mailing list :-)

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Julia and Viggo live in northern Tanzania. Many of the largest "game parks" in the country (even in all Africa) are within a few hours drive of their home. They arranged for a two day deal where we had a spacious jumbo Land Rover and an experienced driver to show us two of the parks: Tarangire and Ngorogo. The best park depends on the season and what kind of animals you want to see. It was dry season and we hoped to see lots and lots of all sorts of animals. We were not disappointed. During our one night away from home, we stayed in a guest house outside of Ngorogo. It is a lot cheaper than staying in a lodge inside a park. The lodges tend to be quite luxurious and expensive. I see that I failed to get any pictures of the large herds of zebra and wildebeest;We saw many. Here in no particular order are some of the photos I liked best of our safari days: