First SIL Tanzania Flight

February 22, 2014 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Front, Tanzania

Tanzania is a large country, and travelling can be a major challenge. For example, going from the main city of Dar es Salaam to Mpanda, where we were living last year, took an exhausting 30 hours of driving over paved and dirt roads. Earlier this month I had the privilege of being a passenger on the first operational flight of a new (to us) plane which should allow easier travel for our colleagues working with SIL around the country, and even allow access to some areas that are almost impossible to reach by road.

The plane itself is a small Cessna 206, with room for a pilot and 5 passengers (or 4 passengers and their luggage!) We were piloted by Steve, who has experience of flying in various countries around the world, and had been looking forward to this first flight for a long time! Steve, an SIL/JAARS pilot, seconded to MAF under a partnership between SIL and MAF Tanzania, will continue to operate the plane, based out of the town of Mbeya in southwest Tanzania.

Our flight took two and a half hours from Dodoma to Mbeya, a journey that would have taken probably 10-12 hours by road. Apart from arriving refreshed, we also enjoyed some great views along the way! Read the rest of this entry →

A missional reading of 1 Peter 2:4-12

October 9, 2013 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible, Bible translation, Church, Language, Mission, Tanzania, Theology

Last week Laura and I had the opportunity to speak at Calvary Chapel, Salem here in Oregon. As well as giving an update on Bible translation projects that we’re involved in in Tanzania, I took a look at 1 Peter 2:4-12, exploring what it means to read this section of the letter from a missional perspective.

Looking back, I think I sub-consciously applied the various missional hermeneutics we covered in the “Reading the Bible Missionally” module of Redcliffe’s MA in Bible and Mission, specifically looking at:

  • The place of the text in the missional meta-narrative of the Bible
  • The significance of the text in forming and equipping a missional community among its initial hearers
  • The text as part of a movement from the particular to the universal
  • The text speaking to the missional situation of the present-day hearers

Read the rest of this entry →

Ten things I miss about Tanzania

June 27, 2013 in Life, Mark, Culture, Front

Recently we transitioned from life in Mpanda, Tanzania, to Oregon in the USA where we’ll be for the next few months. Below are ten things that I’m already missing about Tanzania. Once you’ve browsed through these, you might like to take a look at the ten things that I’m enjoying about AmericaRead the rest of this entry →

What’s wrong with Tanzania?

May 31, 2013 in Mark, Africa, Culture, Front, Justice, Tanzania

On the train from Mbeya to Dar es Salaam this week it was fun to bump in to some of the backpackers for whom the TAZARA train seems to be an essential part of their African adventures. I was interested to hear their perspectives of Tanzania, as well as Zambia, Malawi and South Africa that they had travelled through.

However, it seemed that the travelers all came trying sub-consciously to answer the question: What is wrong with Africa? Whether it was in complaining about the train being a couple of hours late (not really a big deal when it travels thousands of miles, and there is no strict schedule anyway), or frustration at not understanding how the process works to buy tickets (yes there is an orderly queue even if you don’t see it, and no you can’t just push everyone until you get to the front), or thinking that workers digging a road are lazy because the majority are standing around (if you do manual work from dawn until dusk every day near the equator, you’d better pace yourself in the middle of the day or you’re not going to survive…), there seemed to always be the unspoken assumption that Tanzania is broken. The worst thing is that I can see all their same attitudes in myself when I first visited Kenya twelve years ago. Read the rest of this entry →

Why I’m glad I’m not yet fluent in Swahili

February 28, 2013 in Life, Mark, Africa, Culture, Front, Language, Mission, Tanzania

Language learning can be hard work, especially for us Brits who hardly uttered a single word from any language other than English until age 11, (and even then only for 3 hours a week in the school classroom.) I remember looking forward to beginning to learn German as I started secondary school, and thinking that all I had to do was to memorise the German word for each English word and I’d be fluent – simple, right?! I’m glad to say my understanding of linguistics has progressed a little in the last 20 years…

Now, living in western Tanzania I find myself speaking Swahili for much of the day, alongside English, with a few greetings in some of the local languages around here thrown in. As foreigners living in Tanzania it can be tempting to see language learning as a necessary step before we can get on with our real work, a period of time we need to set aside to get up to speed with the language so we can start what we really came here to do.

But I think language learning is so much more than that. Learning the language (and culture) of another person is essentially learning to understand the world from their point of view, and as such is a never-ending journey. Read the rest of this entry →