The October meeting featured the Rev Brian and Mrs Jill Polkinghorne, who reported on their recent visit to Tanzania – an eight week working safari in Mpanda amd Ngara.
The Newsletter we all receive on arrival at State Mission Fellowship featured news from the South Australian support group for Frontier Services (known as the South Australian Team). It says Frontier Services focuses on maintaining and increasing the number of Patrol Ministers, depending on the circumstances. Allied to this pastoral presence is outreach through “Outback Links” where skilled volunteers do short work placements at outback homes and stations – the feedback has been very positive. Also the Red Dove Cafe was featured – its building is to be demolished to re-develop the area to include new car parking and landscaping. However the Café will continue to operate at The Show at another location. Built in 1956 the Cafe has hosted thousands of people, and over the years built up a relationship with the carnival folk who appreciated the meals and the friendship. This year $45,000 will be given to South Australian projects, making a total of $450,000 over the last ten years.
The next meeting is the annual Thanksgiving Service, with the opportunity for Fellowship Groups and individuals to bring their special offering for mission. A welcome cup of tea or coffee greets us on arrival, and a light lunch is available afterwards for just $5. Perhaps you would like to join us.
Brian and Jill then spoke. Now ‘retired’, Brian is both a Uniting Church Minister and a trained agriculturalist. At various times they have spent a total of twenty-six years in Tanzania, so their visit this year provided an opportunity to catch up with people with whom they had worked in earlier times. They arrived in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania, then flew to Kigoma on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, being met by Bishop Mathayo Kasagara and several other people – there were eleven people in the vehicle for the six and a half hour journey to Mpanda – on a dirt road! Brian & Jill had been expecting to stay in a hotel but the Bishop and his wife Editha insisted they stay with them. Jill said it was a privilege to live with them for seven weeks.They greatly admired the Bishop, saying “what an outstanding man of God” he was, and “his grace, wisdom, practical faith, prayer life and humour are something to behold.” When he was appointed in 2010 the congregation at Mpanda was 30 people, now the congregation is between 350 and 400. On the first Sunday Brian and Jill were there a worship service lasted five and three quarter hours!
They conducted several seminars for clergy and other church leaders, with their partners, travelling many kilometres on some occasions. They expressed their thanks for the monetary contributions they had received from South Australian friends. These donations paid for food, accommodation and transport for participants in the seminars. Brian addressed their agricultural problems, including zero-dig farming and how to get safe drinking water. Later time was spent in teaching about and constructing water resources, 'divining' for water and digging a well and making bricks to line it. In between the seminars Brian also preached and taught in the Bible College for a while.
Jill taught the “Days for Girls” programme. Between seminars she taught two women to cut out and sew the “Days for Girls” kits - there were 59 kits consisting of 59 draw-string bags, 59 shields and over 450 liners. Because of the lack of sanitary pads they needed to make their own, and this will be an ongoing project.
Through their practical seminars Brian and Jill helped Tanzanian Christians to see the connection between their Biblical faith and everyday life. This has been a major emphasis in the life and teaching of this remarkable couple over many years. Mary Thomas
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