After many years of thinking and praying about moving to Mpanda, trying to imagine every last detail of what life might be like in our new home, last week we finally made the 3-day journey from the language school in Iringa to Katavi Region, where we are now living. Apart from being very long and very bumpy, we were grateful that the trip itself was largely uneventful, and thankful for the many people who were praying for our safe arrival.

Last Tuesday we arrived and were extremely happy to see our good friends again. Mark’s friend Richard has gotten married since we last saw him, so it was exciting to finally meet his new wife, Karin. We were also very pleased to be reunited with our friends Tim, Jeana and Micaiah who we met in the UK and visited in Canada last year.

For now we are happy to be living in the house of our colleagues who are back in the US, as it is nice to be able to start out in a place that is already set up and not have to start from scratch. Our first impressions of Mpanda have been very positive – the people have been very friendly and welcoming, and the area is also extremely beautiful and green at this time of year (the end of the rainy season).

Driving down towards Katavi National Park

Driving down towards Katavi National Park. Sorry the photo is taken through the windscreen, but Laura didn't want me opening the window in a tsetse-fly infested area...

Although we are still mostly just settling in to our new home, Mark was able to go on a trip to the village of Mwese last Thursday with some of our colleagues, to carry out a trial one-day workshop. The purpose of this time was to collect a few words in the Bende language, and in the process to identify a handful of Bende speakers whom we wished to invite to the full week-long workshop which will take place next week. The journey was long again, taking over 3 hours each way on quite bumpy roads, but we were glad that it hadn’t rained for a few days so we weren’t in any danger of getting stuck. It was great to meet some of the church leaders in Mwese, and to work alongside Bende speakers who clearly love their language and are excited about the possibility of translating Scriptures into Kibende.

The Lutheran church in Mwese

The Lutheran church in Mwese

Sitting with one of the workshop participants

Sitting with one of the workshop participants

Richard giving the workshop participants instructions

Richard giving the workshop participants instructions

Richard with participants

Empty church after the participants had left

Our other news from the last couple of weeks is that we have two new feline additions to our family. Duma and Nyalu Woodward are originally from the Hehe area around Iringa, so their names are Kihehe names, meaning leopard (Duma) and lion (Nyalupala, or Nyalu for short). They have been a lot of fun so far and did extremely well on the journey… now we just have to make sure they grow up to hunt mice and snakes…

Duma and Nyalu

Duma (left) and Nyalu (right)

  1. Alan Bittel says:

    Hi Mark and Laura,

    I enjoy your updates and especially the pictures. We are praying for you here at Corban as you move deeper into your work there. The area you work in looks green and beautiful, kind of like the Willamette Valley! The two kittens are very cute. Again, thank you for the news. I look forward to seeing pictures of your home and the area around your home. I enjoy seeing how other cultures live.

    One question, in the picture of Richard giving instructions, it appears that he has his coat over his head. Why is this? I am thinking to keep flys off but the other men do not do this. Or possibly it is a cultural issue. I notice all the men are wearing nice sport coats. Very nice and western! 🙂


    • Mark says:

      Hi Alan, it’s great to hear from you! Yes this area is very nice and green at this time of year – there have been rains for the last few months, so everything is lush and full of life at the moment!

      Yes the participants are wearing smart clothes for the workshop as people here often do when they go to church, or when they attend a formal event. I don’t think Richard is wearing anything over his head, although the picture isn’t very clear!

      I hope you’re doing well – I hear you guys have had some snow recently!


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