The Colour of Missions Part 3

In the afternoons, children gathered on the mission house front porch for singing and a Bible story.

Friday afternoon we visited Trudy’s good friend, Mama Glanti. The parents are named after their firstborn child. It took me a while to remember that my name was Mama Andrew and therefore respond when they called me that. Jake was called Baba Andrew.

I thought, It’s a blessing to be named after my Heavenly Father’s Firstborn–little Christ, Christian.

Agatha, Michael, Matilda, me, Mama Glanti, Trudy, Jeshua

We also visited Mama Susana, who was dying with HIV. She lay on her mattress groaning in pain, unable to respond as Trudy talked with her and prayed for her. She was so thin we could see the ball of her hip and bone beneath the blanket. She had told one of the Christians that she knows Jesus has forgiven her sins. She passed away into eternity the day we flew home.

Let us pray that the glorious gospel will set aflame in the hearts of the people of Ivuna. Let us continue to pray for those who are sharing the good gift of the gospel. It is our call; it is our part of the work, and God’s work is not in vain.

That evening we had a hot dog roast in honour of Trudy’s birthday in Noel and Sarah’s courtyard.

After we ate a special supper of hot dogs, coleslaw, punch, chai and cake for dessert, we each shared how Trudy is a blessing in our lives. We sang in English and in Swahili, the most enthusiastic voice being that of Pastor Apolinery.

We first met the Pastor in Mlowo at the bus stop. Jake said that immediately he’d seen a light in his eyes, an openness, a clarity of conscience. He was heading to Ivuna as well, to visit Zack and Matt ( and had planned his visit in conjunction with the Canadians’. On the bus he sat in front of Andrew and Megan. He speaks some English and a conversation ensued. He bought salted casava through the window from a vendor at one bus stop and shared some with us.

By this time it was dark, and the light of the bonfire cut through the blackness and reflected on each of us as we sang, “Ni Salama rohoni mwangu.” (It is well with my soul.)

We all need a Fire burning in our hearts, cutting the darkness, brightening our eyes, blazing a purpose for our souls. 

While we tidied up the yard and cleaned up the kitchen, we sang,

“Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light.”

The song became my prayer.

Saturdays the clinic is closed, so after a breakfast of stretchy porridge and yummy natural peanut butter, we hung around Trudy’s place, the men hauling water to give the parched garden a drink, and we womenfolk doing a bit of housekeeping and cooking.

Each day I’d been drinking a cup of water with 2-3 oregano drops in it, hoping it’s anti-parasitical properties would take effect. I made a cup for my daughter as well, since she’d been complaining about a tummy ache first thing in the morning. (Ironically, the last thing she’d eaten was Canadian hotdogs!)

“Oregano burns like fire in your throat, so be sure to have extra water on hand to gulp down afterward,” I told her and dutifully continued washing dishes (which we did in cold water.)

Megan told me later that Agatha had seen what a hard time she had drinking the oregano water and graciously offered to dump it out the window. Megan had readily agreed.

Johnny, Matilda, and Trudy walked to the dry riverbed. It was usually flowing at this time of year.

Trudy said she hoped it would rain soon.

His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. Revelation 19:12

The Colour of Missions Part 2

The bus ride from Mlowo to the village of Ivuna (E voo’na) lasted over 4 hours. In Canada, a bus in its condition would’ve long been hauled to the scrap yard, but here it still served well and was even graced with a name–Richie Richie.

The rickety bus heaved over brown hills and revved through gullies to a lower altitude and warmer air. It bumped and rattled and made grating sounds that made me wonder if poor Richie Richie would make it over the next rutted incline.

“Always room for one more!” seemed to be the motto. The bus driver stopped often to pick up more passengers, who simply set down their packages and stood in the aisle as the bus lurched forward.

The man who’d been standing in the aisle beside me from the beginning of the ride, seated himself on my arm rest. Another motto seemed to be “Your space is my space.” I leaned closer to Jake and to the reddish-brown dust blowing into the open window. It was rainy season and the corn was waist high. Mountains in the distance reminded me of the mountains in Chihuahua, Mexico, where we’d visit my grandmother when I was growing up.

Finally we reached our stop, but alas, one of our totes was missing! A crowd gathered around as Trudy, the driver and three or four men discussed who was responsible for the missing tote, and whether or not the transportation of our luggage had been paid for.

About twenty minutes later we were unpacking our dusty luggage and settling in our room in the mission compound of Noel and Sarah Ornelas. You can read about their lives at

Trudy’s open gate welcoming us into her compound.
The next morning I woke up at 5:00 and couldn’t go back to sleep. It was afternoon in Canada. The Lord was going to turn me into a morning person yet!

Hannah, Megan, and Matilda made a special breakfast of cinnamon rolls and egg casserole for Trudy’s birthday.

Megan cooking on an outdoor brazer.
Then we walked with her to the clinic. It looked like rain so we carried our umbrellas.


Mwakata uli!”


Trudy and the villagers called Sichela greetings to each other across the village paths. We imitated the foreign words; then curtsied and clapped and shook their hands.

Karibuni Tanzania!” (Welcome to Tanzania.)

Asante.” (Thank you.)

They roared with laughter at these mzungu’s bumbling. “You should teach them Swahili,” they told Trudy.

Jake, me, Trudy, & Agatha outside the clinic.
At the clinic, Trudy thought aloud in English and diagnosed her patients in Swahili.
One of the patients was a little girl who had sprained her knee. She put her hand on my head in the typical fashion of a child greeting an older person. “Shikamoo,” she said politely.

While Jake massaged her knee, the poor little girl wailed and cried.

Pole, pole,” (sorry, sorry) Trudy sympathized as we bandaged her leg. When it was all over, she gave a reluctant smile as she clung to her mother.

Jake loved the children! And they loved him.
The clinic was closed in the afternoons, but often people had walked a long way or it was an emergency, so they came to Trudy’s house, and she served them, giving up her space and time.

Jake and Johnny watered Trudy’s garden and planted more seeds in the parched grey sandy soil. There was less rain than usual this rainy season.

I sorted our laundry, filled an empty tote with cold water and hauled it into the shade.  Mama Wawili paused her scrubbing and held up our socks, chattering in Swahili to her helper. With sweat pouring down my face, it was hard to imagine we’d worn them only four days ago.

As I hung the dripping clothes on the line, I thought of my nifty appliances back home. How do I spend my time while my washer and dryer clean our clothes? I determined that it would be time spent serving in God’s kingdom.

Serving Him involves the gritty discomfort of putting our own needs aside, being hidden like the seeds in the soil, accepting that the fruit may not yield while we’re there to see it. The timing, the space, the glory belongs to God.

Several times during our visit Trudy said to us, “Thank you for coming to see my life here.” Indeed the privilege was ours, watching her live out the colour of missions, humbly serving her Lord and the people of Ivuna

 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5


The Colour of Missions Part 1

We flew through time, and after a 13-hour flight on Ethiopian airlines, reached Sunday 8 hours before our people back home. When we exited the airport in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, a pressing heat wave hit us. Two taxi drivers loaded our 14 totes, numerous suitcases and backpacks into two vans. Our taxi driver, a tall thin Tanzanian man, sat behind the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the vehicle.

I guess in Tanzania the invisible traffic light always shines green. With a sharp horn alert, he moved into a seemingly too-small opening in the stream of traffic and expertly drove us the ten minutes to our guest house, clicking his tongue at vehicles, pikipikis (motorcycles) and pedestrians who passed inches from the van window.

After a supper of roasted chicken and ugali, we fell, worn-out, into our beds. I felt a tad guilty sleeping in an air conditioned room; we were in Africa after all.

In the morning we had a short flight and then descended into the green-quilted countryside of Mbeya.

Here we met up with our dear missionary friend, Trudy! It was so good to see her again!!

We were transported in a land rover to the home of Tim and Sheryl Zeiset of Harmony International Missions. (Trudy and Tim & Sheryl will be characters in the third book in The Fehr Family Series.)

A hearty lunch of rice, beans, and bananas and warm fellowship welcomed us. Mbeya’s higher altitude affords cooler air, bright sunshine, lots of greenery and flowers, and picturesque mountains in the distance.

This is where the village missionaries come for rest times. And no wonder, with the warm hospitality and refreshing atmosphere, it felt like we were at the Porter’s house in Pilgrim’s Progress, for surely “This house was built by the Lord of the hill, and He built it for the relief and security of pilgrims.”

Trudy needed medical supplies for the Ivuna clinic. We took the shortcut to town–up a hilly path, past growing bean plants and banana and avocado trees. We had left a dismal, overcast Canada so all the green and sunshine was invigorating.

In the evening Trudy took us to a coffee shop. We had brought our umbrellas, and sure enough, a blessed rain fell while walking back. Suddenly a Tanzanian man joined Agatha and me under our umbrella. He chattered on and on in Swahili. Trudy, who was ahead of us under her umbrella, commented briefly. Finally he disappeared into the darkness. I asked Trudy what he’d said. “Oh, he was just telling us about his day,” she replied.

Then Trudy opened her totes. I watched her delighting in the many gifts and blessings sent by family, friends, and the home church. And I thought…

…we are all called to be part of God’s team in sharing the good gift of the gospel. Jesus gave all of us the green light, the go-ahead, the “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.”

We don’t wait for perfect—not in ourselves and not in others. We pray, we give, we speak, we teach, we encourage. We GO!

We stayed in Mbeya another day, resting, shopping and visiting. The next day we were heading to the village of Ivuna, so we packed up and were ready to GO!

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15