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.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Lake Tanganyika

Setting off to Congo

Drying small fish (dagaa) on the beach
Fishing boats at Katonga village
Lake Tanganyika stretches all along the Western border of Tanzania and up into Burundi. On the far side (you can almost see in the picture) are the mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a huge, deep fresh water lake, containing 17% of the world's fresh water.
For us the beach near Kigoma,  is a wonderful place to relax and refresh. We have spent 3 days there with Alec, Ruth and Zach, (who are now safely back in the cold and snow of Hatfield). This was Zach's first "sea side" holiday - and we worry that he may be a bit spoilt for the future : soft sand, clear warm water, a private beach and the shade of palm trees!

But for those who live in the villages along the shore the lake is their livelihood. The fishing boats, as shown here, are taken out every night, where they fish using large nets and the light of paraffin lamps to attract the fish. In the morning the catch is brought in to the villages where the large fish are sold in the market and the small dagaa (like whitebait) are dried in the sun. The women's work is to rake and turn the fish. The dried fish is an important food of the people of this area, providing protien to eat with the staple ugali -  a stiff porridge made from maize flour.  Many of the villages along the shore are only accessible by boat, and large "boat buses" go up and down the lake daily.

It was wonderful to be with our family, and their visit went very well - plenty of "African experiences", but hopefully none too overwhelming!  Zach seems to be good friends with his grandparents and we are delighted to have such a happy, healthy and fun grandson.
Now we are settling down to routine and work. Today I preached at Msagara church, up in the hills; tomorrow we have our staff meeting preparing for the college students return next week, and on Thursday Alastair will start work at another hospital 15 minutes drive from here.

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