Blessings and Joy from Beautiful Tanzania!
First, let us introduce ourselves. We are Richard and Rhonda Hanssen and we are the managers of Sunrise Children’s home under your well known founder and director, Kay Oursler, aka BBK. It is our joy and privilege to be here loving and serving the children and staff of Sunrise as well as the village of Uhekule. Here’s little about us: on September 24th we celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary and we are still crazy about each other after all these years. We have three children: Ashleigh, our oldest, is 31 and married to Jason and they have blessed us with our first grandson, Amos, who will be 2 years old on Christmas Eve. Our son, Joshua, is 29 and lives in Chicago, IL and Tori, our youngest, is 24 and lives in Melbourne, FL.
There is a lot happening here as always so here are some highlights:
First and most importantly, the Lord is shining on Sunrise! The name that BBK picked out is so perfect. We are seeing the Son (Jesus, the Son of God) rise in the lives of the children. A recent volunteer that BBK wrote about, Lissa, took the picture of the rays of the sun shining on us. It is a picture of what God is doing here – He is shining on us!
Two of our children graduated this month from Standard 7 (7th grade), Elia and Hosea. They both excelled, Elia was number one and Hosea was number four in their class. We are very proud of both of them. They will be going to secondary school in January and in the mean time they will be “junior” staff members at Sunrise. They are gaining all kinds of work experience and are a great help. You will see a picture below with them showing off the evidence of one of their new found skills; cleaning the jiko. A jiko is a wood burning stove that gets full of soot and is very messy to clean. We are looking at choices for secondary schools and we will soon visit a couple of different schools to “check them out” and for the boys to take the required entrance tests to see if they qualify (we are sure they will).
The children were off from school from September 5th through the 9th so this was a perfect time for the Sunrise family to get seed potatoes, prepare the soil, and plant viazi (potatoes). In addition to our 15 kids still at home, we had four secondary students home for the week and five extended family members of our children all helping as well. We planted about an acre and a half which will provide enough potatoes for the Sunrise family to eat for a year. If the harvest is very good we will be able to sell some as well. In addition, while the kids were off we finished up “beating” our wheat. This is how we remove the wheat kernel from the stalk and pod.
We have some exciting news about our staff! Evelina is back and is our “Resident Manager”. She does an outstanding job ensuring the kids stick to their schedule, complete all chores, wash their clothes, and are well taken care of. We also have a new staff member, her name is Neema and she came on staff to take care of our animals, assist with gardens and crops, and help wherever else she is needed. Neema is a recent graduate of an Animal Husbandry School and she is just what we needed! Feeding and caring for cows, chickens, and rabbits is a full-time job that had previously been done by the staff as needed and it was very hard to keep up with feeding of what we affectionately refer to as three “eating machines”, that is our cows, Lucky, Mimosa, and Heidi. Neema is a very hard worker who joyfully does anything that needs to be done!
While on the subject of animals, we have five new members of our animal family, five kits, baby rabbits. We are in the process of building new cages for our sungura (rabbits) that we hang from the ceiling in our former goat house. We have completed 10 cages with only three or four to go and then we will start our rabbit breeding program. We plan to eat the meat, sell meat, and also sell baby rabbits.
We were very blessed to have the Msigwa family visit Sunrise with many good gifts. Most of the family is from Uhekule village and are now business men and women in Njombe. They all got together and purchased the food stuffs that you see: 50 kilo (110 lbs of sugar), baby care (skin oil), bar soap, sunflower oil, and 50 kilo of rice! Wow! The Lord always provides!
As you may guess we eat what we grow here at Sunrise. We have large bustanis (gardens) for growing our vegetables. We just completed redesigning all of our garden areas. We removed all the wood borders, re-measured, and made all new raised garden areas. We increased our planting area by about 25%! We are currently planting figiri (greens), cabbage, Chinese cabbage, squash, carrots, onions, peas, and lettuce. In addition, we have some smaller planting areas that we are going to experiment with by trying a few new vegetables; okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, yellow squash, and possibly pili pili hoho (green pepper).
Our house is moving along well! They are in the process of tiling the bathrooms right now. Once the floors are all finished, they will paint inside and out and we will be able to move in. We will not have a kitchen yet, but we are working on that with a carpenter from a local vocational school. So we will soon move out of our 12 x 8 room where we have been living for the last 7 months. By the way, after these months we still love each other AND we are still friends!
The vocational workshop is near completion. Mekio our maintenance man, a trained electrician, is completing the electrical installation. We are still in need of carpentry equipment. We have one possibility for equipment coming from an organization in the Netherlands. All the equipment would be donated to us if this option comes to fruition. Please pray with us for this. The shop will be a critical piece in the vision here at Sunrise. We will train carpenters as well as build wood products to sell; this will bring in needed finances to assist us in becoming more self-sustaining.
We had our first rain the other day, our first drops since the beginning of May, which is why they call it the “dry season”. The little bit of rain did nothing, but it was nice for a few minutes. We have red dust which is called vumbi and it is everywhere, in everything, and on everything. You will have some crunch in everything you eat here, it is difficult not to with the abundance of vumbi.
Just a little fun information:
- The Sunrise kids’ favorite food to eat for supper is rice. Of the main starches we eat, potatoes, ugali (mush made from corn flour), pasta, and rice it is the most expensive.
- All of building our house has been done without power tools.
- Tanzanians’ only like to drink milk hot; they do not like it cold.
Again, thank you for supporting the work that God is doing here at Sunrise! Your financial and prayer partnership are a blessing to the children, the staff, and to us!!
Joyful in Jesus,
Richard and Rhonda Hanssen
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