Here we are at the end of 2015. We have had a terrific Christmas, with all of our kids, partners, and a grandson, together. Who knows when that’s going to happen again? So we celebrated and visited and hiked and sang and ate!
As I write this, Diane and I are THAT close (my thumb and finger measure a small space in the air!) to being fully supported and on our way to Tanzania. Friends and family have been extremely generous, and we are within $700 per month of being on our way. We had hoped to be in Tanzania sometime in January, and that’s still a strong possibility, but we need your help!
This morning, I followed my normal routine. I generally arise at about 5:30 (the alarm goes off at 5:20, but sometimes I treat myself to an extra few minutes!). I went out to the lounge, stoked the fire in the wood heater, switched on the coffee pot, checked the headlines, and settled down with a fresh cup of coffee for my devotions. It’s precious time. It gives me time to get my brain clear, find out what’s going on in the world, and grow my relationship with God. In Africa, our verandah is our main living space, so the coffee and quiet times occur outdoors, where we can listen to the dawn chorus of birds and cattle.
After my devotions I checked the news sites again, and discovered that The New Yorker, CNN, Fox, CBC, CTV and BBC all had news about El Nino. If you follow any of these sites, you’ll know climatologists are using terms like “the Godzilla of El Ninos.” It’s likely to be the worst in known history and it’s going to stretch well into 2016. From BBC: “”Millions of people in places like Ethiopia, Haiti and Papua New Guinea are already feeling the effects of drought and crop failure,” said Jane Cocking, from Oxfam.” (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35159826) That means a very wet time for much of the southeast US, and, paradoxically, a very dry, hungry time in southern Africa. Food shortages there are expected to peak in the early parts of 2016, but in my experience, the true hungry months in East Africa tend to be in April and May (even at the best of times), before the April rains have provided any harvest.
CNN has a cheery video lady, dressed like a motivational speaker speaking to less-motivated motivational speakers, explaining how El Nino is likely to affect California. She discusses the world-wide consequences, and ends her video by asking the all-important question: “We all know that El Nino will impact the world. The only question is, how will it affect you?” REALLY? That’s the burning question? Jesus prompted a legal expert to ask the real all-important question, “Who is my neighbour?” And Jesus answered by telling the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25 – 37).
Conservation agriculture (CA), with its reverence for water, soil, and resources, has a proven track record of growing abundant yields on very little water. We advocate a CA method called Farming God’s Way, not because it’s all laid out in Scripture, but because it emphasizes biblical principles of respect for the land and the good gifts God has given us. I have stood in FGW and seen the most amazing harvests of corn. I have also looked into adjacent fields, cultivated using traditional methods, and seen only dry, immature stalks of dead corn. This is a sight I’ve seen over and over in my career. We know FGW can make a difference.
We are extremely anxious to get to Tanzania, to work at STEMM Children’s Village (www.stemm.org). We KNOW that God can grow food even in times of little rainfall. We KNOW that God can change the situation for the other children of Mbuguni though the teaching about FGW. We KNOW that this can happen and we feel God wants us as part of this plan.
Many of you who have promised support and have not yet done the paperwork. Over a hundred people responded to our plan for a recording of The Princess Bride, and we wait anxiously for your pledge. Some of you have considered supporting us, but are reluctant to make a monthly commitment. But that’s what we need. We need you to ask yourself, “Who is my neighbour?” We need you to go on the mission website (http://missiongo.org/donate/missionaries/tim-and-diane-bannister) and make your pledge. Please help us get to Tanzania in time to train staff and neighbours how to prepare the land for the April rains. Please help Diane develop programs to improve the health of the community around STEMM, and to enhance the overall operation at STEMM. Pray for us regularly. Forward this blog to friends you know. Share it on you FB page or on the social media of your choice.
And, as always, God’s blessings to each of you, in the new year, and always.
Tim and Diane