Rainwater collection at Tanzania Christian Academy

Evangelism is our primary mission in Tanzania. We are following the example of Christ, who went about teaching, proclaiming the good news, and healing (Matt 4:23, Matt. 9:25, etc.)  Meeting felt needs is a way of reaching people, so they will listen to our good news about Christ.

Building a rainwater harvesting system for Tanzania Christian Academy was one of our dreams for our most recent trip to Tanzania. We didn’t complete the system because of a lack of funds, but we were able to plan the system while we had “boots on the ground.” We hope to complete the system when we return to Tanzania in the spring of 2016.


Tanzania Christian Clinic & Tanzania Christian Academy (click for a larger image)

The buildings on the left in this picture are the guest house for Tanzania Christian Clinic and the Headmaster’s house for the school, with the clinic in the background, lower on the hill. To the right are the school buildings which are under construction, and in the background, at the upper right, is Mount Monduli. The house we have rented for next year is on the other side of this  mountain. You can see how beautiful this area is!

Here’s the challenge: there is no consistent supply of clean water in this part of the world. There is a long rainy season roughly from March to May, and most years, there is a short rainy season in November. The least amount of rainfall occurs in July. The average in this month is 4 mm (about 0.15 inches). The greatest amount of precipitation occurs in April, with an average of 218 mm (about 8.6 inches). The total rainfall is generally above 29 inches… about as much as Iowa or Kansas. During the dry season, it is dryer than Utah.  There is a great need for clean water in this community.

A rainwater collection system could collect sufficient water during the rainy season to supply the school during the dry season. We would be happy to take donations to help with the cost of constructing this system, or you can make donations directly to Tanzania Christian Services.


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Rainwater collection at Lewis & Tammy’s home.

The week before our arrival in Tanzania, Lewis Short posted a picture on Facebook, showing the water that his family had available: about 3 gallons. Three gallons for cooking, drinking, flushing toilets, showers, and everything else for a family of 5–and we were going to be staying with them. So one of the first projects we tackled was a rainwater collection system for their house. It would help, once the rainy season started.

20150328_120552 20150330_080620

We bought several tanks, and we hired a welder to modify the Short’s tower so we could install a 2000 liter tank in the base. We also had him build a cradle for the water pipe running from the main house to the tower, so the line wouldn’t sag when it was full of water.


Twyla catching water


Ralph, Lewis & Albert collecting water

Soon after we started building the system, it started raining. The rainy season finally arrived, 3 weeks late. We had tanks, but we didn’t have them plumbed in, so we gathered as much water as possible. It made a real difference to have water!


Before we finished, we had 10,000 liters of storage, and that was full before we left. We learned a lot about available materials and provided a water collection system for the Short family.

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Brief Update

Building a bottle brick cistern in Monduli Juu

Building a bottle brick cistern in Monduli Juu

Twyla and I have both been quite active on Facebook, so our friends who are on Facebook will be aware of the things we’ve been doing.However, several people have reminded me that they don’t use Facebook,and they would like to have regular news about what we are doing.So this blog is one part of our effort to keep people better informed. In addition, these posts will have the advantage of being centered around a theme, rather than the “here’s what we are doing now” quality of Facebook.

So for the next few posts, here’s what you have to look forward to:

  • Rainwater collection at Lewis & Tammy’s home.
  • Rainwater collection at Tanzania Christian Academy.
  • Rainwater collection at Andrew Connelly School of Preaching
  • Constructing a Bottle Brick cistern at the Monduli Juu Church of Christ
  • Visiting the Arusha Game Park
  • Our Non-profit corporation in Tanzania
  • We found a house to live in!
  • Learning to build bio-sand water filters
  • Visiting family and friends
  • A vehicle for Tanzania

That’s a good beginning; these topics will give you a good idea what we have been up to since we left for Tanzania in March.

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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.


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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A Thankful New Year

On January 1, 2015, I would like to express my thanks for the people who have blessed us this year.
First, thank you to Twyla, who said that we should seriously consider moving to Tanzania, to do the Lord’s work there. Many people think I’m dragging her half-way around the workd, and they want to know how she feels about that. It was her idea, and I’m thankful to be married to a woman who is devoted to the Lord’s work.
I’m blown away by the support we have recieved. So many people donated money for our trip in May, and again for the trip we are now preparing for. We have been coached by Everrt Huffard and Brian Davis, both of whom bave been a true blessing.
I am particularly amazed by the support from my co-workers at FedEx. One coworker was the first person to donate to our work. My boss, Mary Harvey Gurley, went above and beyond. She was instumental in raising over half our funds. My upper management and the management team that I supported were very generous.
We have been adopted by Lewis & Tammy’s parents. Both couples spent many years on the mission field, and invest their efforts in supporting missionaries. We are blessed by our own heritage of family members who are veterans of the Lord’s Army.
And this week, we have been blessed to be guests of Billy and Mary Kniffen, who have been teaching us about rainwater harvesting. Today, Billy taught me how to weld, and we built a modification for the rack on my truck.
We are thankful for all of these, and for many others we haven’t mentioned.

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Last Day at FedEx

If you’ve watched my activity on Facebook, you know I’ve attended some parties this week. I’ve also been packing up stuff, throwing out stuff, and generally getting ready to vacate my office.
It’s a bittersweet moment. This morning, as I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed the long line of trucks waiting to drop off their load of Christmas packages, and I thought, “Peak looks great this year!” Then a new thought, “They’re taking care of my retirement.”
Never thought much about retirement. Figured I would have to sometime. I’m not retiring because I’m tired, or I want out. FedEx is a great company to work with, and the Air Ops division has been a huge adventure.
I’m retiring, because we feel called to serve in the Lord’s Army, in Tanzania. This coming year, we plan on building a rainwater harvesting system for Tanzania Christian Academy, and next year, we plan to move to Tanzania.
We hope to develop an Adult Literacy program, and to do more rainwater harvesting projects, all with the ultimate goal of teaching people about the love of Christ.
So it’s bittersweet. Leaving a job I love, but looking forward to new and exciting things.
May God bless us in this new work!


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Global Missions Conference

We had a great time at the Global Missions Workshop at Goodman Oaks Church of Christ in Southaven! Saw many old friends, met new friends.

One of the highlights was getting together with Mark Brazle. I’ve known Mark most of my life, but we haven’t seen each other in 30 years or so. His Dad, Clinton Brazle, was a Bible teacher at Western Christian College, and Mark’s brother Paul was in my graduating class. Their younger brother was a year behind me, and the three of us played on the same football team. I bought one of my first cars from the Brazle boys, a 1962 Plymouth Valiant for which I paid $25. I drove it for at least 2 years before a friend wrapped it around a tree.

Later, Mark was a missionary in Belgium, working closely with Blair Roberts. Blair and I were interns together in Brandon, Manitoba. My sister-in-law, Holly James, was an intern in Belgium with Blair and Mark. To top it all off, Mark’s daughter is a missionary in Tanzania! I’m sure that’s not a coincidence.

IMG_20141017_164431 So, we’ve got lots in common, especially common friends and experiences. It was very good to see him.

Also got to spend some time with Robin Cannon. Like me, Robin is a TCK (third culture kid), having grown up in Japan, and then in Papua New Guinea. His Dad was one of my heroes, a Canadian who was a missionary in Japan, Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya and Ukraine. Robin and I went to the same colleges, and studied under the same teachers. Robin is almost as weird as I am. Robin’s step-mother, Betty Dollar Cannon has been a good friend for many years. Like us, she was a missionary in Ukraine.

And it was great to see Lewis and Tammy’s parents, Ed and Sharon Short and John and Beth Reese. Their families and ours have been tangled for quite some time, even though we only recently met them. They have  become like family, as we prepare to move to Tanzania to work with Lewis and Tammy.

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A few pictures of the kids

I noticed that my page is very short on pictures of the “babes.” Here are a few to make up for the shortage:

Here are Timothy, Jeremy and Sophia working on a homeschool science project: Testing the strength of some “hollow bones.”

Homeschool science project

Timothy got into his mother’s Tumeric. Now he’s the yellow kid. Maybe we should get him a long night shirt with odd sayings on the front?

Tumeric Timothy

Sophia made “flower cookies,” filled with homemade jam.

Flower Cookies

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Rainwater Project

Here’s the deal:


A 10,000 liter tank similar to these costs about $2000 to purchase and install. We’re looking for 15 people or churches to step up and provide enough for one tank.

That will allow us to install a “starter kit” of 100,000 liters of water storage, as well as a solar or wind-powered pumping system at Tanzania Christian Clinic and Tanzania Christian Academy for Science. The system will collect rainwater in the rainy season, and in the dry season will provide clean water for their students and patients.

It’s an expandable system. If we can raise more money, we can buy more tanks, or we can build a huge concrete cistern. We hope to travel to Tanzania late in February, and spend the next 90 days building this system.

Building a rainwater capture system isn’t our long-term dream for our mission work. We’re committed to evangelism. But doing this will give us an opportunity to work with the entire Monduli mission team, all of us together in Tanzania for the first time. And we can meet one of the needs of the clinic and school.

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