The five of us are setting off to Manchester airport full of excitement, hope, expectations and a few butterflies. We had a wonderful ‘sending out’ from our church yesterday as the whole congregation prayed for us during the morning service.
Our luggage is packed with an eclectic range of items: drill bits and saw blades, gaffer tape, screws and nuts, old mobile phones that can be re-used in Mara- and lots of sweets, crayons, colouring books and games for the children. Not much room left for our clothes!
So who exactly is this gang of five?
Well, there’s Ian: the Reverend Ian Sparks, our vicar. Ian studied development economics as part of his university course, but has not until now had the chance to visit the developing world. No doubt he’ll be asked to join in the services at St Mary’s, Mmazame and possibly at the cathedral in Musoma. And he’s sure to entertain with his ukelele and his wonderful singing voice.
Then there’s Keith: Keith Rowe has been the parish link officer in Luddenden for more than 10 years. He is passionate about Africa, having spent time in Kenya during his miltary career. This will be his ninth visit to Mmazame, and on every visit he has carried out paractical tasks that have helped the community to build their church, develop an income-generating sewing project, create a goat house and advise on good husbandry of the goats.
Next is Ken: Ken Giles, who runs Mytholmroyd Builders’ Merchants in the Calder Valley and who has been interested for some time in going to Tanzania to work on something practical. He says he’s seen so much TV coverage of the developing world that he really wants to see for himself what life is like there.
Daren Wilkinson is our local publican. He runs the Lord Nelson in Luddenden (which was recently seen masquerading as the Stag’s Head in Gentlemen Jack) and is another who’s wanted to visit our link parish for some while. He says that what he like about the parish-to-parish link is that the connection is so direct, and when we raise money we know exactly what it is spent on.
And then there’s me, Jane Evans. I’ve had a passion for working with people and communities in the developing world since I spent 15 years of my career with an international development organistaion called World Vision. I’ve been following news of the link with the diocese of Mara and then the parish of Mmazame ever since I first came to Luddenden some 15 years agao. I’m thrilled to be going, and looking forward to getting to know some of the people that we pray for in church every week.