Sunday, November 22, 2009

Family time: August 15-22

Our party on August 15 was also the spark for some lovely time with family. Pauline and Greg came the night before the celebration, and stayed to spend a week with us in Toronto.

After he got used to the feel of the grass James just loved to move about, fast, on all fours- almost always a happy smile on his face

But he got tired too. Greg comforts James as we get ready to set off for the Willowdale CRC

Long after she would normally have been in bed and fast asleep Gracie was still alert and ready to be the life of the party

It was wonderful to have some close relatives join us; Wendy's brother Andy came from Cambridge with two daughters, Marcia and Stephanie

And Adrian's brother Hans came with Hennie, from Ottawa

Sharon took time to catch up with Hennie that evening

David was a big help that day, taking photographs; this one was on him!

We stayed close to home the first few days after the party because first Chris came down with flu, and a significant fever, even though he did not complain much. Opa took some special time with James - not hard to please as long as we had some food he could eat!

By Monday Gracie also came down with a flu, and that one was more persistent; it took about three days before she felt better. It was actually pretty warm those days while Gracie was sick in bed, but for Chris and James, a perfect time to have water fun in our backyard.

By Thursday everyone was well enough to enjoy an outing to Black Creek Pioneer Village, where there was much to enjoy, games and crafts to try out, old machinery to watch, animals, and more. Gracie loved running around; she was clearly over the flu by that time.

Both Chris and Gracie loved the animals there

James spent much of the day in the baby carriage,

and was happy for the most part

But really enjoyed getting out to crawl about too!

Thursday evening was pretty special: Greg and Pauline wanted to watch the Boston Red Sox in a game, taking Chris with them, and found it easier to get tickets for a game in Toronto than in Boston itself. Adrian and David joined them, while Wendy and Sharon had fun babysitting Gracie and James.

A special benefit of all of us being together was the opportunity for a family photo

Two sisters on Saturday morning (in front of our home), and time to say farewell. We admired Pauline's efficiency in getting all the goods and children packed into the van!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Celebration August 15

"Great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:23)

Saturday, August 15 was a special day, a day of celebration for Adrian's 65th birthday, and thirty-five years of ordained ministry; he started as pastor in Terrace (BC), 1974. We also celebrated twentyfive years of overseas work in missions, the first ten years in the Philippines with Christian Reformed World Missions, as we taught and held Bible studies first in Bacolod City (Negros island), and later in Manila. We had an interlude of several years while Adrian earned a ThM in missiology (at Calvin Seminary) and a PhD in ecumenism (at the Toronto School of Theology). After that we served for fifteen years under the auspices of Christian Studies International (the Canadian branch of International Institute for Christian Studies), in partnership with CRWM: seven years at Moscow State University in Russia, almost seven years at the University of Jos in Nigeria, and finally a semester teaching philosophy at St. Augustine University in Tanzania. We have so much for which to give thanks!

Colorful flowers to help us celebrate

To mark the occasion we invited family, friends and colleagues, many who had faithfully supported our work over the years, to come and celebrate the day with us. The party was held at the Willowdale Christian Reformed Church from 4-6.30 pm. that Saturday. We are very thankful indeed for the many who turned up at the Willowdale CRC to join us in celebration.

The Willowdale CRC social hall is a lovely venue for such an occasion

As with any good party, there was lots to eat and drink!

We were honored by the attendance of Dirk and Rie Jongkind, former members of Toronto First CRC, now residents at Holland Home in Brampton

Fred and Jane Reinders in conversation with Wilma Bouma, who was among the first board members when CSI was newly organized and joined us all the way from Vancouver

A number of guests helped us remember the reasons for this celebration.

Fred Reinders, longtime chair of the board of CSI, brought words of appreciation on behalf of CSI

It was great that CSI colleague David Hallett, currently teaching in Beijing, was able to join us for this occasion

Trish de Jong of CRWM (Burlington office) brought greetings on behalf of our denominational mission

Bob vander Vennen, former executive director of CSI, reminisced about the years we worked so closely together

We really appreciated the contribution of Hanneke Cost Budde, missionary colleague working with AIDS victims in Tanzania, where we taught these last months

Wilma reflected with us on the many years of Adrian's ministry, beginning with pastoral work in Terrace BC, and later in the Philippines - she was one of few who actually got to visit us in these locations!

All in all, it was a wonderful celebration. We are grateful for those who joined us in person, as well as those who were unable to be there for various reasons, but who did send their best wishes. Our daughter Sharon deserves much of the credit for preparation and organizing the event.

Sharon also helped care for one of the babies in attendance

We are especially grateful to our friends Jack and Martiny Van Meggelen who hosted us after the reception to provide our out-of-town guests with an outdoor dinner.

Wilma and the two of us, with Jack and Martiny

Our thanks is extended indeed to all those who helped make this such a memorable day. Above all, we praise God for his faithfulness to us throughout these many years.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Farewell St. Augustine University of Tanzania, and farewell St. Nicholas!

The semester of teaching at St. Augustine University of Tanzania is finished. In mid-June students wrote the exams for both our courses: Introduction to Political Ideas (Adrian) and Introduction to Philosophy (Wendy). We marked these right away, and turned in the results. So the time came to say goodbye to SAUT and Mwanza, to express our thanks for five months of teaching, and for opportunities given to make contacts, also at other universities in Tanzania. We arrived early in February in order to volunteer our services. Overall, we found the experience at SAUT enjoyable, even though it also had its challenges.

On campus, behind our house

In Tanzania we discovered the "other face of Africa" in a country which is politically stable and peaceful. We also discovered the great need in education and a warm welcome for IICS/CSI faculty to come and teach. We were not only at SAUT to teach, but also to investigate possible placement for CSI/IICS professors in the future. We found SAUT to be an excellent university—the second largest university, and the largest private university in Tanzania. It is well-organized, certainly in comparison with the norm at federal universities of Nigeria. Right now there is an urgent need for more lecturers. All the universities are experiencing enormous growth, but there are not enough qualified lecturers, especially in some areas of study. Moreover, Tanzania is the most peaceful country in Africa. Thus we feel that SAUT is an excellent place to send professors, whether for long- or short-term assignments. Both in Mwanza and in Dar es Salaam we heard the same story: "We are facing a scarcity of teachers at all levels." One of the most important aspects of our visit to East Africa has been to recognize and communicate that need.

We did not find it hard to settle in and adjust. Even without much knowledge of Swahili, the language used everywhere in Tanzania, we did not find it difficult to purchase basic items, such as dishes, pots and pans, cutlery, towels, etc. With a smile, good will and gestures we were able to communicate our intentions and to purchase grocery and market items as well as the basic necessities to make the house habitable.

Our dining room

Our living room

Our kitchen

We were even able to coax some flowers to make our home a bit more attractive

Of course, we discovered power outages; but we counted the hours when we lost electricity, not those when it was working (as in Nigeria). We experienced some water shortages, but mainly at the beginning, before the university provided a water tank, which gave us a regular supply of water. Provision of a gas tank was also very helpful, allowing us to cook even when the power was off.

Saut community day

We found the end of the semester rather hectic. We had not been adequately informed about the methods used in submission of marks for continuing assessment of students (i.e. marks for assignments and tests given during the semester), to be handed in at least two weeks before the end of the semester. As a result we were faced with a few busy days compiling these marks and collecting the required signatures of the students when the time came. After that we had to submit our proposed examination papers.

Wendy working with Lucas, one of her best students

Partly to accommodate our desire to leave by June 23 (the day before the end of the exam period), our exams were scheduled during the first two days of exams, June 12 and 13. So our busyness only increased as we marked exams and prepared marks for submission of results to the examination officer. On the exams students identified themselves only with their examination code number, so we had no idea who wrote each exam, nor could we know individual results. The examination office will calculate the final marks by adding the continuing assessment mark to the results of the final exam. Both of us know that several of our students failed, but we are not sure which ones. Adrian’s students will receive mostly Bs, while Wendy’s students will get the whole range from As to Fs.

The pace changed on the final days before departure. We received invitations from several colleagues to share a meal; the Vice-Chancellor and the DVC Academic also took us out for dinner at one of the more fancy restaurants in Mwanza. They told us that they wanted us to stay at SAUT, forever! Unfortunately, we have to leave, we told them. Before we left for the airport to fly to Dar es Salaam, the DVC dropped by to wish us farewell. “It is a sad day,” he added.

Rev. Dr. B. Mfumbusa, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, who was our main contact person

After leaving Mwanza (June 23) we spent almost a week in Dar es Salaam where we investigated some universities as well. Our first goal was to visit the University of Dar es Salaam, where we had a contact, the father of one of Wendy's students, prof. Mutakyahawha, senior professor in geology. We met him at his home and shared a meal as we told our story of the availability of IICS/CSI lecturers to come and teach.

Prof. Mutakyahwha

The next visit was at the Dar es Salaam Business School of Mzumbe University, where we met the dean, Dr. Andrew H. Mbwambo.

Prof. Andrew Mbwambo

Again, we heard of the great need for lecturers, especially in subjects like accounting, marketing and management. Although we do know of a few people who have expressed interest in going toTanzania to teach, over the next weeks and months we hope to interest more who are willing to go there.

Not only did we say farewell for St. Augustine, we also said farewell to St. Nicholas Church. When we first arrived in Mwanza, we attended the Catholic chapel on campus, but services were in Swahili, and the Catholic regulations do not allow us, as Protestant, to participate in communion. One Sunday we did attend a bilingual and international service of the Assemblies of God Pentecostal church in town, but the worship style was far too loud for our ears. Then we found St. Nicholas, the Anglican church with a service in English spliced between two services in Swahili.

The English congregation at St. Nicholas had its own pastor, named Paul, and a worship leader, named Moses, who greeted us every Sunday with a hearty, “Welcome church! You are not lost. You have come to the right place.”

St. Nicholas Church

Pastor Paul's baby baptized in May

We continued worshiping with St. Nicholas for the rest of our stay in Mwanza, and quickly found friends there. Adrian even preached there several times, a highlight being the Easter service. We are very thankful that we were able to find a church where we could feel at home.

St.Nicholas dressed up for Easter

The experience of being in Mwanza is one that we will treasure. We have left Mwanza, and only God knows whether we will be able to return to SAUT and St. Nicholas Church in the future. But we certainly can warmly encourage other professors to come to Tanzania in the years to come.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

SAUT Worldview Workshop: 23 May 2009

The flyer that we posted all over the campus

Saturday, 23 May 2009, was a true highlight for our experience of this semester of teaching at St. Augustine University (SAUT). The idea for a workshop on worldviews which compete for attention as we teach at the university grew out of discussions with our colleagues here inTanzania. We recognized a desire to teach in an integral Christian way, but most of our colleagues had done their graduate work at secular universities, either in Africa or overseas, and were shaped by that. SAUT labels itself as a “secular” university, owned and operated by the Episcopal Conference of Tanzania. "Secular" in this case means "not pontifical"; it also means that it is open to students of all denominations and faiths. Both of us have Muslim students in the class. Not all lecturers are Catholics; there are also a few Muslims on the faculty. 

The Vice-Chancellor opening the workshop with prayer

We had planned the event for some time, providing the groundwork through preliminary discussions with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Mfumbusa, as well as Dr. Kitima, the Vice Chancellor. Flyers had been placed all over the campus, and we had spoken with the colleagues we knew, to invite them to this event. Most promised to come. We had also invited the Tanzanian IAPCHE members to come to Mwanza for the occasion. So we worked carefully to prepare a set of power-point presentations for the workshop. And we urged those supporting our work to pray for this event. So you can imagine that we were very thankful that the workshop turned out to be successful, especially because on the day itself there were a number of significant SAUT events competing with ours. We had hoped for twenty participants, but had prepared chairs for as many as fifty people, realizing that under the circumstances half that number would be a good turnout. Indeed, the total attendance for the whole workshop was twenty-two; not everyone was able to stay for all presentations. 

Adrian and Wendy looking over the program before the workshop

For the workshop we had chosen the title, “The University Teache and Competing Worldviews,” hoping to demonstrate that a Christian worldview can play a constructive role in a context where it has competition. We planned two sessions; the first was to deal with some operative worldviews, especially the western or secular one that is dominant on many university campuses, as well as the African or traditional worldview that continues to influence lecturers and students alike here, and finally, the Christian or biblical worldview that we want to encourage lecturers to implement in classroom teaching. The second session was intended to show our colleagues how one can teach from within this Christian worldview. Both presentations were well received, as we heard from later reports.

We were especially grateful that the Vice-Chancellor of SAUT, joined us to open the workshop with prayer and a word of encouragement for this project. He was accompanied by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic of the university, but they had to hurry off to another event which hosted a local Member of Parliament. The head of the department of philosophy, Dr. Aidan Msafiri gave a general introduction for the sessions, and welcomed the lecturers and graduate students who represented various faculties and departments. We were grateful for his support and participation, for we had specifically invited him to show how a Christian worldview might be applied more concretely in his own discipline, which is environmental ethics. We also asked one of our colleagues specialized in African traditional religion, Julian Mugishagwe, to introduce the African worldview. In this way we wanted to make sure that this was not a workshop introduced only from outside SAUT. Our hope is that the program we developed can be adapted and used again in the future. We left two cd's with copies of the program with Msafiri, who has already stated plans to repeat the workshop.

Msafiri making his presentation on using a Christian worldview in teaching environmental issues

Our colleague Julian who presented the African worldview

Wendy using a card made by our daughter Sharon that illustrates how time binds us in the secular worldview

Before closing the workshop we took the opportunity to donate a number of relevant and valuable books for the library of SAUT. These were eight publications of Dr. Benny van der Walt, from the University of Potchefstroom in South Africa, all dealing with the issue of worldviews. Benny had sent copies of these books to us when he knew that we would be teaching in Tanzania. Little did he know that we were planning this workshop on worldviews. We thought it a great opportunity to formally hand them over to Msafiri.

Presenting the van der Walt books to Msafiri

Sister Esther, a colleague from Ireland

The group picture was taken at the end when some participants had already left

Isaac Mutua with one of the participants

For this workshop we had invited Rev. Isaac Mutua from Kenya, director of CPCHEA (Centre for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education; see the website: and Africaregional director for IAPCHE (International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education; at the website:, to attend and use the opportunity to introduce the work of these organizations. In that regard he was successful. Most of the participants of the workshop signed up to become members of IAPCHE. Later that day, and on Sunday afternoon, Isaac had further opportunities to talk with both the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, about SAUT becoming an institutional member. Both of these university officials are supportive of the goals of IAPCHE and CPCHEA, and said the matter would receive careful consideration. We certainly left a number of our colleagues with a new enthusiasm for teaching from a Christian perspective. So all in all, we are thankful for this workshop, and pray that the benefits will continue to multiply in future.

Isaac with Adrian and Peter, a IAPCHE member from Tanzania

Isaac with Adrian and Wendy