Category Archives: mission prep

“It’s more blessed to give…”

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Missionaries will generally tell you that fundraising is the thing they like least about this occupation. Joe Cannon (a close friend and missionary mentor) was quick to remind us that, according to Christ, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

We have been blessed to be able to give, and now we are being blessed by those who give. Our hearts have been warmed by many friends and co-workers who have given to support our work. We are truly grateful and gratified that so many are interested in helping.

Many people have asked us if there is a way to donate to Williams Tanzania Mission online. We have just published a FundRazr page, which works with Paypal to accept online donations. Money donated on this page will be placed in a special account for our one-time costs involved in getting set up in Tanzania.

Our sponsoring church is the Church of Christ at White Station (COCWS). If you need a receipt for tax purposes, you should mail your check to the church with the memo “Williams Tanzania Mission.” Mail your check to:

COCWS
1106 Colonial Road
Memphis, TN 38117

On the header bar, you will notice a new tab: Give. That tab has all the information for giving either by check or on-line. Please feel free to share that with all your friends. Really. Please Share.

In addition, we have been working diligently to establish a 501c3, and have been making some progress this week. Our non-profit (Sustain Ability) will allow us to pursue grants and donations from corporations, who generally are not allowed tax deductions for money given to churches.

Please continue to pray for us, that we will be able to raise the money we need, and that the Lord will do mighty works through our lives. Bless you all!

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Filed under funding for missions, mission prep, Mission Work

Reproducibility

After a presentation last month, a friend who had traveled to  Africa told us about all the wasted money and effort he had seen, with projects that died as soon as the Americans were gone, or couldn’t survive without constant support from overseas. We hope our story is different.

Reproducibility is one of the main principles we’re working with. We want to empower local people to repeat what we’ve been doing without our aid. Our work can be duplicated and multiplied without outside assistance.

Solar Power system

Albert learned how to thread pipe (and other plumbing skills) while we were putting together Lewis & Tammy’s rainwater collection system.

This works at several different levels. At its simplest, it means we teach people. The key component of rainwater harvesting and biosand filters is that we are teaching, rather than doing. We show people what to do and we hand them the tools.

In order to be repeatable, we must use tools and materials that are available to local people. That’s been a bit of a learning curve for us, because sometimes the tools and materials we prefer aren’t available, or are terribly expensive. We spent a lot of time looking for a line level and chalk line before discovering that local carpenters use a water level (a hose full of water). I’d rather use a line level, but water levels are easy to make.  Water levels are reproducible, so that’s what we will be using. 670px-Use-a-Water-Level-Step-8-Version-3

This is especially true for our Bible teaching. We’ve been blessed with a whole lot of Bible study tools and skills that aren’t locally available. It’s nice to be able to read in the original language and look things up in your favorite commentary, but those tools just aren’t available to most people (even in North America). We were very impressed with Discovery Bible Study, which is a system of teaching that is repeatable even in an environment where many people cannot read in their own language. It doesn’t depend on people with outside resources or a lot of education.

This isn’t a new idea. I am reminded of my childhood among the Cree nation. Having been exposed to a lot of teaching that relied on some commentary or church father, the church on the reservation insisted that Bible teaching be done using only the Bible; no other sources were allowed. That wasn’t Dad’s rule, it was theirs, but it was a good rule. They could follow the lesson (and teach it again) using resources they already had. 

Our work for the Lord should live on after we are gone. The things we do must be reproducible, so the people we teach can teach others using their own resources.

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We don’t do handouts.

It was a bit shocking the other day, to hear another missionary telling a church, “We don’t do handouts!” Shocking, but absolutely spot-on.

Christ said, “The truth shall set you free.” Handouts, on the contrary, lead to dependency, not freedom. So we don’t do handouts.

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Building a bottle-brick cistern in Monduli Juu

We empower people. We teach them how to use the gifts God gave them, to improve their lives and free them and their children. If we help them learn to read, they can then learn to be free from AIDS, or a fear of AIDS. When they build their own water collection system, and their own water filter, it frees them from disease and from trudging miles to a dirty pond for water. They can raise healthier animals and better gardens, and make a better life for their family.We empower them by working with them to use the resources they already have.

If we gave them water filters, we might have a moment’s contact, from a benefactor to a supplicant. That’s not a good relationship for either person. The real need is not for filters or tanks, but for learning, and learning is a two-way street. When we work together to build a filter or a bottle-brick cistern, we all learn, we all have something to offer, and we all build relationships. When we have finished, the people who have built the filter or the tank or have learned to read can go back to their home and teach their neighbors to do the same.

We have certain principles which we use as a measuring stick, a canon in the classical sense, for choosing the work we will do in the community. This is the first: Can local people do this with materials they have or can afford? Put another way, will they need something from elsewhere (America, for example) or money from elsewhere in order to do this again? The answer must be that they can do this with their own resources, or it is not a worthy offering to them. Each thing we do must free them from being dependent; must enable them to help themselves and their neighbors.

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Our Future House in Tanzania

Because our mission is an outreach to the Maasai people,we wanted to live among the Maasai. We had seen where a few people had built brick houses in the area dominated by the Maasai, and thought we might be able to rent one. Through a casual connection, we were introduced to the retired Head Teacher from Maasai Girls School, who owns a vacant house in the Monduli Juu area. This is exactly where we wanted to live! We have rented this house in advance, to move in on June 1, 2016.  I have included an album below; I believe you can click on the thumbnails to see a large image.

This is a lovely house, but this community has no water supply. In order to live here, we will need to build an extensive rainwater collection system. With our landlady’s permission, we hope to extend the roof to increase the area for rainwater collection, and to give us some additional covered living/visiting space. With the additional water, we will be able to use the flush toilet and shower that are already built in the house.

When we saw this house, we thought, “We could move in right away!” That’s almost true. It’s a very nice house, but without a water supply or electricity, it would be difficult to live here (that’s probably part of the reason our landlady lives elsewhere). Desert Water Agency estimates a need of 6000 gallons per month for two people.

  • We must enlarge this roof to provide more rainwater catchement capability.
  • We must be able to store at least 2 months supply on location (preferably 3 or more).
  • Estimated cost: $20,000
  • Solar Hot water system $500.00

We will also install solar panels for electricity, because the electrical system here is very undependable. It is often off for days at a time, and rarely on for more than 8 hours a day.We will have a generator as backup, so we will be living “off the grid.” However, because cell phone service (and internet capability) are almost universal in Tanzania, that’s one thing that actually works better than in Memphis.

  • 5 Kv Diesel generator: $1200.00
  • 10 Kv Solar System: $1200.00

Which brings us to the point: We need assistance with these costs. We’re raising money for our support, but we also need money to cover one-time costs like moving, language school and renovating our house. If you, or your church are interested in partnering with us in this work, please let us know.

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Filed under funding for missions, Living in Tanzania, mission prep, Mission Work, Rainwater Collection

Purification: Changing lives with water filters

After we received such positive feedback to our last post, Saving Souls… One Bottle at a Time. I thought it might be valuable to show you another piece of our evangelism strategy: building bio-sand water filters. Like building cisterns using bottle-brick construction, this method has the same clear advantages:

  • It meets a felt need: for clean water & good health.
  • It’s sustainable: anyone can do it with local materials.
  • And it provides a lot of relationship-building time between the local church and the non-believers who want to learn.

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In July, we attended a workshop in Anacortes, WA, on bio-sand water filters. One of the big lessons we learned is that this is a community effort! You can see how everyone was working together in each of these pictures.

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All the time we spent shovelling and sifting sand, mixing concrete, pounding the mold, we were building relationships with the people we were working with. We started our total strangers. After a week of sweating together and eating together, we had become close friends.

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As we worked on this, it became clear to us that this could be a great tool for evangelism. The Maasai understand that dirty water can make them sick; they are constantly looking for maji saafa–clean, safe water. When they come to help build their own water filter, or a filter for their child’s school, they will be building relationships with Christian men and women.

So how well do the filters work?

Organisms&BSF

As you can see from our graphic, they work very well. They work as well as most commercially available filters, but they can be built by local people, using locally available materials. With a simple modification, they will remove arsenic from water!

Consider the effectiveness of the filters in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since January 2015, there have been more than 100,000 documented cases of cholera, with over 2,000 deaths. Our friends at Friendly Water for the World (who trained us) trained two teams of BioSand Filter fabricators (one made up entirely of women rape survivors from the war.)  They installed BioSand Water Filters in 26 orphanages, and taught basic hygiene and community sanitation. Since installing these filters, they have completely eliminated cholera: As of September 2nd, there is not a single case of cholera in any orphanage in Goma.

This gives us an opportunity to be a blessing to the community, and a method to spread the gospel. Matthew repeatedly tells us that Christ went about healing people, teaching and proclaiming the news about the kingdom. We emulate His model in our work in Tanzania.

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One week before we leave: Where do we stand?

My workgroup at FedEx gave us these outstanding insect repellant Tilley hats!

My workgroup at FedEx gave us these outstanding insect repellant Tilley hats!

We leave for Tanzania on Monday, March 16.

Please come to our Farewell Dinner at 6 p.m., on Sunday evening, March 15!  Some friends are hosting a farewell potluck dinner at the Church of Christ at White Station, in the Fireplace Room (see map). It’s a pot-luck, so bring some food and come hear about our plans.

Fundraising

We are far short of our goal for the rainwater capture system. We only have about 10% of the money we need. Even at this late date, we have a hope of raising the rest, which is why I am sending this message.

We have exceeded our goal for our personal needs, largely because we pledged $5000 of our own money (thanks to  my portable pension plan from FedEx). We’re committed to this work; we hope you will donate to it as well.

There are two ways you can donate:

  1. You can make a donation to COCWS with “Williams Tanzania Mission” on the memo line. The address of the church is: Church of Christ at White Station, 1106 Colonial Road, Memphis, TN 38117.
  2. You can make a donation to Tanzania Christian Foundation (click the link to open their donation page). You can designate your gift for Tanzania Christian Academy online,  or you can send them a check with “Rainwater Collection System” on the memo line.

If you have been following our posts on Facebook and this blog, you know that our life has been rather busy. We’re taking a breather on Sunday. I will be speaking at Peppers Lake Church of Christ on Sunday morning (just outside De Valls Bluff, AR). I was their preacher many years ago, when our daughter was a baby. If you would like to join us, send me an email, and I will give you directions. Then,on Sunday evening, we have the farewell dinner. Y’all come!

Please pray for us.

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Getting Ready to Go to Tanzania

There is so much going on, I hardly know where to start. We’re sort of feeling under attack.

When we returned from our trip to Texas, all excited about rainwater collection, we found ourselves totally buried in the details of life, and of getting ready to travel to Tanzania.

We have several houses, and we had envisioned spending time fixing them up and getting ready to sell them, or getting them rented and handed over to a property manager.
New facia front 2We hadn’t expected to get slammed by our insurance companies, who sent a list of “fix this” demands. So at first, we were just running around fixing and not focusing.

Then one of our tenants moved out, leaving us holding the bag for about $2000, and another house in need of fixing.

And we discovered that my retirement fund (which we had planned to use) wouldn’t be available to spend on  all of these repairs. Time for a loan…

In addition, when I went to the brokerage to discuss said retirement funds,  I learned that we won’t be able to keep my retirement fund in that brokerage: they won’t deal with missionaries and other people who live outside the country.

So we have LOTS of stuff going on, and we just don’t know quite how to handle it. So we need your prayers. And if you want to help fix houses, we welcome volunteers.

So here’s the good news.
We have nearly reached our fundraising goal for our personal expenses. Not doing quite so well on the expenses for building the rainwater collection system, but fundraising is coming along. And we have high hopes.

We have scheduled our tickets. We will be leaving for Tanzania on March 16, and arriving there on March 18 (we have an overnight stay in Amsterdam).

We have a place to stay, or rather, several places. Among the Short family, the Allison family and the Smelser family, we should have a bed to sleep in the whole time we are there. We weren’t too worried about this, but it’s nice to know.

And we have compared schedules and we will be able to spend time with all of those families, getting to know them better, building relationships and talking about plans for future mission work.

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