December 2017 Newsletter
What a wonder month of December we had with all (including those who go to secondary boarding schools) of our Sunrise children home to celebrate the Birth of Christ, our great God and Savior! We focused on the “Reason for the Season”, which of course is Jesus.
Blessings and thanks to each you who have been so good to the Sunrise Family! Your gifts, whether financial or packages or your prayers are a great blessing and a constant source of encouragement to us.
“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.“
Christmas at Sunrise
This was our first Christmas in Tanzania. Our Sunrise family celebrated Christmas together and we had a WONDERFUL time. We did what most people in the States and around the world do, we enjoyed eating. Our staff worked so hard to make the day special for everyone. For breakfast we had mandasi (fried bread). They made them – all 100+ on Christmas Eve day so that they were ready for Christmas morning. After this we had Sunrise Church and talked about the “real” meaning of Christmas. In a country where money and material things are limited, it is easier to not get caught up in anything except Jesus. The sermon title was: “Christmas is for giving; God gave His Son!” For lunch we had chicken, rice pilau, and “soup”. During the afternoon we watched a Christmas special, enjoyed Christmas music, and played games. Then for supper we had chipsi mayai (french fry omelet), cabbage salad, and homemade carrot cake! We finished the evening up with watching a video of the Birth of Jesus Christ. Wow! What a wonderful day!
A New Christmas Tradition
This year we began a new Christmas Tradition! We had all the children over to our house Christmas Eve to watch Christmas specials and eat some special goodies. It was a very special time for all us to be together and enjoy the holiday all bunched up on our living room floor, all 23 of us! We plan to do this every year until we have too many children to fit them, then we will start a new tradition.
Baba and Our Boys Doing Wood Working
Baba recently spent an afternoon with a couple of our boys, Ima and Elisha, teaching them how to build saw horses. You don’t see them anywhere here, so we made our own. The boys were excited to learn how to use a cordless drill and a skill saw!
Hekima, Our New Staff Member
After Leida came on staff in November to primarily focus on the children and keeping them on their schedule, we needed to almost immediately hire someone to take on the responsibilities of feeding and caring for our animals. So we contacted Dris, a friend of ours who has many contacts and has been a great help to us since coming to Tanzania. Dris quickly found us a couple of potential candidates for employment and we set up interviews right away. Part of the interview process we have established is to take the potential employee with us back to Sunrise to spend a day and night. This tells us a lot about them and helps us decide who to hire. We hired a young lady named Hekima. She loves Jesus and the kids and is doing a good job.
Seven Children Going to Secondary School
We have also been getting our grade 7 graduates ready to go to secondary school. Sending 13 and 14 year olds off to boarding schools is not what we would prefer to do, but we have no choice at this time. We are doing all we can to prepare them for going off to school. We are conducting very deliberate Biblical and practical discipleship training to help prepare them. We are teaching them how to be leaders like we read about in the Bible. We give them examples of young people who stood for God no matter what anyone else did. Ultimately we are trusting in the grace of God to keep them while they are away. They will come back four times a year: two weeks for Easter break, a month in the summer, a week for fall break, and for the month of December.
Preparations – Medical Screening
Part of the preparation for secondary school is medical screening. We took our children to Kipengere Clinic which has the main purpose of caring for HIV positive adults and children. The clinic manager, Sister Neva, is always so kind to us. She ensured that all the screening was accomplished. All of our kids were tested for HIV/AIDS and all test results were negative! Thank you Jesus!
It is very difficult sending these 13-14 year olds off to a boarding school to people we do not know. This is the way things are done here, but this does not comfort us. We are trusting God and praying for our children, but at the same time this only reinforces our need to have our own secondary school.
Preparations – Shopping in Njombe
Another part of the preparations for secondary school is shopping in Njombe. They have to have clothing made in the school colors at a tailor. We have to buy all other clothing, tools to work in the gardens, personal items, buckets, and even mattresses. We have taken the kids to town with us in groups that will fit in the truck. It is very special for them to get to go to town and the highlight for them is getting to eat at a restaurant!!
Yona (Kiswahili for Jonah)
Nicknames: Mr. Green Thumb & Preacher Man
Yona is 13 years old and is going into 7th grade referred to here as Standard 7. His mother is deceased and he doesn’t have a father. He has two cousins here at Sunrise: Kulwa, our cook, and Elisha, one of our boys. Yona is a serious young man in many ways. He is an incredibly hard working young man who would rather be working than sitting around or playing. He has come to us on many occasions and asked, “Baba, Mama, do you have a job for me?”
As you may have deduced from Yona’s nicknames he loves to work with plants. In fact, every free moment he has that is what you will find him doing. He even gets himself in trouble sometimes for not doing his normal chores because his hands are in the dirt working. He plants, transplants, trims, and cares for most of Sunrise’s flowers and bushes and also helps with our own yard regularly. He is very good at “rooting” plants! He especially likes to work alongside Mama (Rhonda) when she is working in our bustani (garden) or with our flowers.
Since our coming to Sunrise, Yona has accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and is an avid Bible reader. He genuinely loves Jesus. We recently challenged the children to surrender whatever they have thought they want to do with their lives to Jesus and pray asking Him what He wants them to do. After doing this, Yona came to us and told us that he believes the Lord wants him to be a preacher.
He has also asked us about being baptized. We plan to do this but we have to be sensitive to the problems this may cause with the village. They are extremely “religious” here and many believe you are saved through baptism and they attach a lot of requirements to being baptized. As a result, this could cause a big problem for us so we have asked Yona to be patient as we pray to get wisdom for this situation.
We know that Yona will bring in a great harvest with both gifts!
We attended our first Tanzanian funeral this month. Unfortunately there are far too many funerals here. The average life expectancy for a man is 45 to 50. There are many contributing factors, some are directly related to good health and sanitation practices as well as unsafe living and working conditions. We are addressing many of these at Sunrise. In addition, AIDS is the cause of many deaths here. Our area, the Njombe Region, has the highest percent (15%) of people with AIDS in the whole country of Tanzania, which is also the reason for it being the area with the most orphans.
Back to the funeral. A young man in his mid-thirties suffered from a serious head injury as a result of a piki piki (motorcycle) accident. He lived for about 30 days before dying. He is the brother of one of our former staff members, Evelina. He left behind a wife and four children. How sad!
As with all cultural events it was very unique. Everyone gathered at the home of the deceased man’s mother. The men and women were segregated throughout the entire event. Many ladies, including the wife and mother, were in the main room of a home filled with ladies sitting on the floor mourning. The body of the man was in the bedroom.
At a designated time two chairs were put outside facing each other about six feet apart. The brought the casket, a roughly made, unfinished, wooden casket, out and placed the ends on the chairs. Some ladies led some singing and then the pastor preached a sermon. After this they loaded the casket and the family on the back of an open bed truck and they slowly drove to the grave yard. We walked along with the crowd of 100+ people.
Once most people were there, they set the coffin on the ground next to a freshly dug hole in the ground. The pastor spoke again, then many different people got up and spoke about the deceased man. Then representatives from a number of villages and towns took turns speaking. When each of these men finished they gave a financial gift to the family. At different times throughout the graveside “service” ladies would just begin singing. Then they took a very long time putting the casket into the ground; we were not sure what they were doing. Then we walked back home.