Wednesday, February 27


Everyone has their little idiosyncrasy's ... and so do I! Does that make me normal? I think not!

I've always found it amusing when I hear of people who are scared of clowns. I can understand those people who have nightmares about creepy crawlies. I have always been a bit of a dare devil, so heights haven't bothered me ... I've been known to jump out of plane on more than one occasion. But most people seem to have something that pushes their buttons.

On our compound here in Dodoma, there is a great communal area where we can hang out and the girls can play, complete with wendy house, swings, sandpit and soon to be slide and trampoline (when our container arrives). The girls have really enjoyed this space lots already and I foresee much more laughter and fun out there over the weeks and months to come.

So, what is on our compound that makes me look like a total weirdo for not liking it?! The photo gives it away? ... the sandpit!

Ever since I was little girl I've a 'thing' about sand and I have no idea where it comes from! When I was small, my mum could put me on a towel at the beach, go for a quick dip in the sea and know that I wouldn't go anywhere that involved leaving the perimeter of my safe haven onto the granules of sand!

Even now, if I had the choice I wouldn't spend too much time anywhere near it. It just gets stuck all over you and into everything and is ... yucky!! 

Don't get me wrong, I still like going to the beach but am extra careful about the whole 'sand' thing! On my honeymoon, me and my new hubby went to a gorgeous desserted island in the Maldives. We spent very little time on the beach itself, either in the water or on the decking of our watervilla ... it was still a little piece of heaven for me!

Getting excited about playing in the sand though is never going to be an expression that will be used to describe me. I even hate having to clean off the munchkins after they've been having fun in it ... but because I'm such a lovely mummy I will continue to do it, even if it's just so they don't follow in my footsteps and become a sand weirdo! 

So far, so good, they're having a whale of a time! And now you know one of my weaknesses too!

Monday, February 25

Seven False Assumptions

Today is February's guest blog, by a Missionary Mum right here in Dodoma, Tanzania. Patricia is from New Zealand and first came to Dodoma to teach as a single lady. She is now an MAF wife to Thomas, an engineer from Northern Ireland (who went through the same training as Mark at MMS) and a mummy to Grace, Naomi's new best friend. 

The McKelvey's are our next-door neighbours here in Dodoma and have been key in helping us settle in. Today Patricia writes some words of wisdom aimed at me and Mark ... but could be for anyone embarking on mission at home or overseas.

Several years ago this document was written by Anne Stoothoof (MAF US Alumna) and it was passed onto to the wider MAF community. When I first read it I was amazed how perceptive it is. At different times on our journey Thomas or/and I have realised we have fallen into one of these dangerous assumptions. I have a printed out copy that often lives above my computer.

Jenny and Mark have only been living next to me in Dodoma a week. Although I realise they have been on the journey for several years. It's quite a serious list but I hope it will help Mark and Jenny to be able to recognise these assumptions when they arise.

But may your honeymoon time as you start your life in Dodoma be a long one and I pray the creepy crawlers that you have met this week won't put you off.


1. If I go where God leads me, the people will love me

‘The servant is not greater than his Lord’ - John 13:16

If I do God’s will God will love me, though he loves me even if I do not.

2. I will be useful in every area I will attempt to serve

‘God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the things that are despised and thethings that are not … so that no one may boast before him’ - 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Just because I came here, doesn’t mean every need is my responsibility to meet, nor that I will be able to meet all needs.

3. What I do will make a significant (noticeable, appreciated) difference

‘For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ - 2 Corinthians 4:18

I have to be willing to be faithful to do what God wants me to do, whether it is seen by others or not.

4. I will be adequate for the task

‘For when I am weak, then I am strong’ - 2 Corinthians 12:10

No matter how much I think I know, I need to know more about brokenness than about ability.

5. I will gain a sense of belonging - fitting in with ease

‘He will be despised and rejected of man, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’ - Isaiah 53:3

While trying to bridge the language and culture barriers, I must still be willing to be rejected, and to love anyway.

6. If none or few of the above are true, I am a failure

‘Measuring yourselves by yourselves and comparing yourselves against yourselves, you become unwise’ - 2 Corinthians 10:12

No one is a failure who seeks the pleasure of God alone.

7. If all or some of the above are true, I am a success

‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world’ - Galatians 6:14

For whose sake am I trying to succeed? If I win all the cross-cultural crowns and forget the cross, I lose all.

Friday, February 22

Getting my Bearings

Almost at the end of our first week here and we're all learning to find our feet in our own very individual ways!

For me, it's nice to be back in Dodoma after 12 years. So much has changed and yet so much is the same. Of all the programmes we could have been placed by MAF, this will probably be the easiest place for me to get my bearings.

I still have some local friends, I have been able to reemploy my old house girl, I have been able to delve into the recesses of my brain and salvage some of my Swahili knowledge and put it into practice and the layout of the town is pretty similar.

That being said, there are a lot of things still to learn, as things have understandably changed and moved on in the last decade or so. Where to go to buy certain items, who's the cheapest, what is a good price for something, which fundhi to use to make clothes and so the list goes on. There is a lot more choice in the stores than I remember (my eyes have popped out of my head on more than one occasion this week!) and so many more of the roads are now sealed, so I almost don't recognise places I know I have frequented many times before. 

Thankfully our next-door neighbours have been a great help and guide to us as a family but particularly to me, who will have to run the household (which is a big deal out here), as they have been out here for many years already. As our Link Family they helped during our preparation time and are now walking us through the different things we have to get our heads round out here too!

I know for a fact that half of what I've been told since we arrived has gone in one ear and out the other ... not because it's not valuable information or helpful but because during a time of such huge transition for us, there is only so much I can process and take in. 

I'm grateful that there are so many lovely people here, who having gone through it themselves and are all really understanding. When I admitted today that I would probably be asking the same questions over and again in the next few weeks, they just nodded knowingly and said they would be ready to answer them!

Wednesday, February 20

Settled In

Well, we made it, in one piece, with all the luggage that we checked in at Heathrow, with no problems! Thank you for your prayers!

So now the BIG task is settling in. We're waiting for our container to arrive in Dar Es Salaam, to clear customs and then be driven the days journey up to Dodoma to really feel at home but we're finding that already it's all becoming very familiar!

Abigail has had an issue with saying goodbye's and leaving places ever since our first home assignment in 2010. This last extended time at in the UK was OK for the first month but in the second one, her sensitivity to leaving was heightened all the more. She didn't want to leave anywhere because all we were doing was going somewhere else that we would have to say goodbye to.

One day, when we were in the UK driving away from another fun time with friends, a little voice in the back of the car said 'I don't like leaving, why do we always have to change'. That same little voice was reassuring her younger sister on Monday this week, 24 hours after arriving in Tanzania with, 'Don't worry, we're here and we don't have to leave for a looooonnnng time'!!

We really enjoyed the chance to catch up with so many people while we were in the UK and have quality time with family but there was also an element of always being on the go. This week, although we've been busy getting things sorted both in the house and out (tax numbers etc), there has also been the opportunity to have a little bit of space too ... and we're all feeling a lot more normal as a result!

So much so that yesterday, when it all went quiet in our house and I went searching for two little munchkins (in case they were getting up to mischief), I chuckled to myself to find them exactly where they would have been in our old house ... in their bedroom, on Abigail's bed, reading stories together!

MAF has a reputation for being brilliant at hospitality and while we were allocated dinners out for the first few night here, we chose to stay at home, sometimes with the food, sometimes cooking for ourselves. The last two months have taken it's toll on us and getting settled into a routine as a family had to be our first priority.

The girls have taken it all very well, although they turned up their crankiness levels in the last few weeks in the UK, way beyond anything I've been used to before ... understandably so, their worlds have been turned upside-down. 

If you spent time with us in our last month in the UK you may have caught them on a good day or on a super cranky one. Apologies if you caught us on one of the cranky ones ... they really are good girls most of the time and hopefully now that they are settling down here, the crankiness levels will slowly turn themselves down too!

Monday, February 18

Turn Back The Clock

Today is our first full day of life in Dodoma ... something we've been working towards for a long time now. I can't wait for us to get settled properly here as family, as it has held so many happy memories for me from when I was here before (1999-2001).

While we were in the UK, someone gave me a copy of my first newsletter that they had kept from last time I lived out here in Tanzania ... October 1999. So while everything is a bit hectic and I might not get a chance to write a new post in the first couple of days here, I thought I'd turn back the clock and share some of my news from back then when I was a 22 year old, singleton! ...

'I am really enjoying life in Tanzania. My house if bigger that I expected with nearly always running water and a toilet which flushes (a luxury out here, believe me!). It already feels very much like home, now that I've added all my personal touches, including about 70+ photos all over the walls!

Dodoma is a town is quite basic, despite being the political capital of Tanzania. In fact, the president and prime minister of Tanzania live on the same road as I do when they are in town for government meetings, and the president of Zanzibar along with the two bishops live here all year round! Not that I've really seen any of them and they live right at the other end of the road as well, the nice end!

Basic foodstuffs and fruit and veg are all extremely cheap out here which makes living on a volunteer's salary a lot more manageable than I'd expected. There are a couple of shops in town which sell a lot of home comforts too, although at a price! So lots of things I took for granted back at home are becoming real treats out here!

The children at the school are adorable - even the naughty ones and I'm really enjoying teaching. I take nearly all of the classes for something at some stage during the week and the variety of subjects is something I probably wouldn't have believed if I'd known 4 months ago! - French, English, maths, swimming, music, sport, reading, language, computers ... and when I'm not doing those, I'm doing admin in the office or driving into town with Warren (the Principal) to the bank or something - so I can definitely say I don't have time to get bored!!

Out of school I've chosen to get involved in the youth club for the secondary school kids (which hasn't started yet!) and also an after-school club for some of the primary school children, which so far has been a great success! Both are really important as there is nothing really for young people to do in Dodoma and also both clubs are run from a Christian angle but for kids of all religions, so it's a real opportunity to share Jesus with them.

God has been absolutely amazing too and I really have felt he's been with me every step of the way, giving me his peace.'

Friday, February 15

Something Was Missing!

One of my favourite things about our MAF training at Ashburnham Place (Week 1 in 2008), apart from all the important information and lovely people we met of course ... was the Bakewell Tart!!! 

So, four and a half years later I was really looking forward to having that with one of our meals again! Imagine my surprise ... and sadly, my disappointment ... when I found that when we there for Week 2, it wasn't scheduled to be on the menu! Something was definitely missing!

I thought I'd be a bit cheeky though and see if they might let their little secret out of the bag, so that perhaps I would have the chance to recreate their yumminess for myself sometime. My cheekiness paid off. When we left at the end of the week, I had the recipe in my mitts!!!

Yesterday lunchtime we had a small family get together, with only a few days to go until we fly ... and to my surprise, my mother-in-law had taken the recipe and made it for us for dessert (along with some other yummy stuff!). It was as delicious as I remembered it to be and what made me even happier was knowing that I will be able to make it for my family again too!

Here is the recipe (in a slightly different format from usual, it assumes knowledge of making pastry and frangipane!) ... it is for 4x domestic recipe ... so you will need to adjust the measurements!! Ordinarily I would do it for you but things are a little hectic right now as I'm sure you will appreciate! I promise it will be worth doing the maths for though, if you do attempt it!

Sweet Pastry
- 2lbs flour
- 1.5lbs butter
- 3/4lb caster sugar
- 2 eggs

Strawberry Jam

- 1lb margarine
- 1lb sugar
- 8 eggs
- 0.5lb self-raising flour
- 0.5lb ground almonds
- Almond essence
  1. Make pastry and line tins
  2. Bake blind for 15 mins at 150 (300 F/GM 2)
  3. Cover bottom of pastry case with jam
  4. Make sponge (frangipane)
  5. Pour sponge over jam
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 150 (300 F/GM 2) until sponge is cooked
  7. Cool
  8. Choose from one of the following ... 
    • Mix some icing sugar with water and almond essence to make icing
    • Mix some icing sugar with water and cocoa powder to make icing
    • Alternatively dust with icing sugar
  9. Ice tart and leave to set

Wednesday, February 13

Getting Creative

Right now we're in the middle of packing up once again ... this time from the UK, so not a whole house and our entire lives but an awful lot of stuff nonetheless. Some of it we brought with us from the States and lots of it we have bought since we arrived in England.

We still have three more sleeps til we fly but already we have packed five cases and it hasn't been too stressful at all ... yet!! Packing does require a little creative thinking at times, balancing out the belongings, getting the weights right ... and of course getting as much in as possible!

A lot of the stuff we are taking is practical, some electronic stuff that we couldn't get in the States, toys and lots of books for the girls, toiletries that will be hard to come by, clothes and a whole load of other things! One thing that we have included is some 'fun' stuff for the adults as well.

I love my crafty stuff and have grown my collection in the States, as well as my skills. Now I have paper-craft bits and lots of material for quilting too! You may remember I posted a photo of some material some time ago (Friday Night Fling) ... for those of you who were interested, I completed my second quilt in November and was able to give it to my mum for Christmas.

In order to be effective in what we'll be doing through our commitment to MAF  in Tanzania, we will need to have some quality down-time while we're there too. While a lot of things won't be as easily accessible living there we've made sure that amongst all the necessary things we've included in both our shipping and our packing, there are some 'unnecessary' bits too!

I'm just hoping it all gets there in one piece. We had news today that our container is due to arrive in Tanzania a few days after us which is great. Definitely reassuring as I spotted an identical container driving on one of the main roads here in the UK yesterday ... that would be one mighty detour! Not sure how quickly after it arrives that we will get to see our things but I just hope that my crafty stuff comes through all the checks OK, so I can start on a new project once we get settled!

Tuesday, February 12

World Wide

Last week we were doing our last bit of official MAF training. Something we started 4 years ago when I was 7 months pregnant with Abigail! How time flies!

MAF have been amazing in the amount of preparation and time they put into each of their individuals and families that are going overseas. Our week was full of information and practical advice both about MAF itself and about living in a different culture.

Internet was elusive, as was phone signal ... and in some ways it was nice to be a little bit 'out of touch' with the real world but also ironic that once we get to Dodoma, contact will be much easier and more straight forward!

During the week we had the privilege of spending time with a few others who will also be heading out with MAF over the coming days weeks and months. It was great to be at a similar stage in the process of moving overseas as a few other people ... as we could relate to each other in a much more understanding way, even than those with the best intentions who aren't just starting service with MAF.

Below was our team, from England, Scotland, the Netherlands and Canada ... heading to work for MAF in the UK, Chad, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. No doubt you'll hear from the other two 'Missionary Mum's', over the coming months with a guest post here (if they agree!).

I find it totally mind blowing when I consider all the people that we have spent time with and trained with, either through MAF or before hand at All Nations. The impact of just our circle of friends on the world is staggering when I think about how many countries they are either from and/or are now living in ... working both in everyday jobs and within the missionary world, in every continent (except maybe Antarctica!!). We could probably visit most countries of the world without having to stay in a hotel right now ... and that's no exaggeration! 

It is a real privilege to have such an amazing and widespread group of friends and exciting to hear all their stories, pray for them, receive encouragement from them and from time to time even get to see them ... if we ever get to travel through countries at the same time ... which actually, this visit to the UK we have managed to do a couple of times! 

Last week, it was nice to add a few more friends to that circle and I'm really looking forward to hearing about how they're all getting on in the months to come!

Saturday, February 2


I have always considered myself fairly up-to-date with technology ... not with the very newest and latest things on the market but not far behind.

One of the reasons we have our blogs and the Beckwith's Big Adventure Facebook Page, is so that we can attempt to keep up with everything that is part of modern day living for a large majority of the world nowadays! And so that later on in life, we can make sure the munchkins aren't out of touch either. It seems however, in spite of my attempts to stay at least a little bit in touch, that the missionary lifestyle is beginning to turn me into a technophobe! 

When we got back to the UK just before Christmas, we got out our UK mobiles to stay in touch with people while we were driving around visiting (our US ones won't work here and vice versa). As we're not in the country long, we use pay-as-you-go and not long after we got back we were in a situation where I had no credit on my phone, so I thought I'd ring up and add some like I used to do in the States.

The networks had changed since we were last home and I've never had anything but a contract phone in the UK ... so this posed an issue! I found a contact number on line, which turned out to be wrong but someone in that office pointed me in the right direction. I then called up and got through to an automated system who suggest I talk to an operator (thank goodness I thought), as I was being connected the automated system kindly informed me that I didn't have enough credit for the call!! That was OBVIOUS ... I was trying to add some, I knew I didn't have any! 

So, we were left in the position of, me having no credit and Mark having no charge left on his phone, with a few important calls to make! It all seemed highly ridiculous to me that we would both be that 'out of touch', to get ourselves into that kind of position in the first place, in this day and age! But it left me feeling very middle-aged and simple ... how I imagine the older generation or missionaries who've been out in the middle of nowhere to be when faced with 'modern technology' ... not me and my family!

Where we were living in the States was in a cell-phone dead zone and technology in a lot of cases was a lot more backwards (and more expensive) than here in the UK ... a culture shock to us, as it was not what we'd expected at all! Ironically, now we're moving to Africa, we're transitioning into somewhere that is way more technologically advanced than small town Ohio and we're having to get our acts together and understand a whole lot more. 

I won't let it beat me ... but right now I have to admit I do feel like a proper old fuddy-duddy!