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.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

....and home.

 We arrived home from our epic and fascinating journey around Tanzania earlier this week. The car, our marriage and our friendship with Ian and Frankie are still intact! - and all richer for the experience we have shared together.
From Ruaha Park we drove to Mbeya, and then, via the Zambian border, to the southern town of Sumbawanga. Again we found a mission guest house which had good basic accommodation, and we were able to meet up with  some of our past college students. They are working for the church there under extremely difficult and isolated conditions, and they thought that the arrival of their tutor to visit them was a 'miracle of God'!
From there our journey became more challenging as the roads gradually deteriorated. We drove through Katavi National Park, keeping the windows well shut because of the fierce testse flies! Our last night was in the market town of Mpanda, where we stayed in the poshest 'hotel' in town for £8-00 for a double room (including breakfast!)
The last day home was memorable - it took 11 hours to drive 180 miles owing to the terrible state of the dirt road. We knocked the tyre off the rim on a large rock within the first half hour, but from then on, owing to Alastair's amazing driving skills, only had one episode in the ditch. It has to be the most isolated area of Tanzania, passing only two small villages in 100 miles. We saw 8 other vehicles the whole day, and 4 were in the ditch!
Suddenly in a particularly lonely stretch of road we saw a white man beside the road! Dave was motor biking from S.Africa to Ruanda, but his bike had packed up. He had no phone reception or knowledge of Swahili, so he was pretty thrilled to see us. He came back to Kasulu with us (to cut a longish story short) - stayed overnight, enjoyed shepherd's pie and a shower, and managed to reunite with his bike and get it fixed. He's in the picture above sharing a roadside picnic with us - though the picnic was cut short by the arrival of some rather aggressive looking baboons.
It's good to be home, and hold all our wonderful memories.

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