Helen and Alastair - some background

Helen and Alastair - some background : We have always hoped to return to Africa once more before we're too old (perhaps we already are!). Alastair first went to Africa in 1974 as a junior doctor, working for the Church of Scotland in a small hospital in Transkei, South Africa. I met Alastair there in 1982, were married in 1984 and continued in Transkei until 1988. From there we went to Kenya, as employees of the Church of Scotland, where Alastair ran Chogoria Hospital. We left in 1995, with Alec, Peter and Becky to establish the children's schooling and our work in Britain. Here Alastair found himself as consultant in Breast cancer surgery, and Helen initially trained and worked as a GP before "evolving" to full time ordained ministry. Alec is now married to Ruth, and they have baby Zach; Pete is in his final year of medicine in Edinburgh, and Becky half way through nurse training in Oxford.

The Diocese of Western Tanganyika is a partner of Gloucester diocese. The plan is for Helen to join the teaching staff of the Bible College, teaching those preparing for ministry. Alastair will teach English to the students at the college, as well as doing some surgery at the church-run hospitals, and helping with project management in the Diocese.
We will keep you updated on our plans over the next few months and will greatly value your prayer support. Our current prayer requests - and thanks to God of course - will be posted on the side bar.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

1000 miles

Dar es Salam traffic jams
The journey from Dar es Salam to Kasulu was nearly 1000 miles. Quite an epic, but we were fine together. We call ourselves "team Africa" and it certainly needs team work at times.
The first part of the journey out of Dar was urban Africa at its worse - a combination of cars, buses, bicycles and pedestrians all taking ownership of the road with few traffic rules. I admire the people who make a living out of the traffic jams by running up and down between the lines of cars and buses selling anything : phone chargers, cashew nuts, oranges, newspapers, and even sheets and towels!
Breakfast stop
To add to this our air conditioning wasn't working -I don't like to sound soft, but it was 30 ish outside and pretty uncomfortable and tiring. Another "hazard" of Africa is that becuase we're close to the Equator it gets dark very quickly - no dusk at all. We underestimated our time and found ourselves in pitch darkness in Morogoro, unable to find a hotel. Eventually paid for a motorcycle escort to take us to a nearby hotel for the night. The next day we got to Dodoma by mid morning, where we met some missionary people who we have met once before - and Alastair went to get the air con fixed. Lunch in a hotel, then on the road again to Singida. Still all tar roads and quite easy driving, and the car behaving well. Realised we needed to find a hotel before dark this time, but got flustered and ended up in a room for £4-00 for both of us for the night. You get what you pay for - (not a lot!). Didn't manage much washing in the bathroom, but shut ourselves under the mossie net and watched a film on my lap top! The next day managed 12 hours driving and onto the dirt road, to arrive in Kibondo. Splashed out on a room for £8-00 which felt like luxury! Picture is of breakfast stop on the way. Mugs of very sweet black tea, large greasy chapatis and fried eggs to order cooked on the charcoal stove at the side of the road- and a nice chat in Swahili with the "maitre d'ote". All for 60p for the two of us.
The main hazard at this stage were the traffic cops, who jump out arbitrarily from behind trees to catch you for speeding - difficult when there are few speed limit signs. We both got done. I tried to argue that there hadn't been a speed limit sign, and suggested we went back to check - this wasn't going down well and it was easier to pay. The system seems to be for pocket money collection for the police rather than road safety.
The last day was just 3 hours home on the dirt, but I fussed all the time as in the back of the car was the brand new, very large photocopier that had been donated to the Bible college. It - and me - survived the bumps thanks to Alastair's very experienced African driving. It's good to be home.

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