Partnership in learning
Miriam Pugh explains how AIM’s vast mission experience has helped her family become respectful learners, with big rewards as the Alagwa people begin to meet Jesus.
Looking back, it is hard to remember exactly how bewildering it was to arrive in Tanzania. On the first day I felt the fear in the pit of my stomach that I get on roller coasters, the kind that says, “You are now strapped in; there is no going back.”
But our orientation in Tanzania (and earlier in England) has kept us rooted. We all told our stories and, as people spoke, it became clear that God had, despite our own plans, brought us together. This exciting sense of confirmation in the team gave us solidity and purpose, and the language acquisition training also gave us a confident foundation on which to face our new community.
“Once in the village, we quickly felt loved and accepted. This is how the Alagwa are–loving, co-operative and supportive of one another. However, we were only able to experience this by arriving as vulnerable learners.”
Once in the village, we quickly felt loved and accepted. This is how the Alagwa are–loving, co-operative and supportive of one another. However, we were only able to experience this by arriving as vulnerable learners. They knew we were strangers needing looking after. I remember how, after our home stay was over, I asked our host if my family might then eat at our own house. Relief crossed her face. “Oh, you can cook, then,” she sighed.
As time passed, God showed us through specific instances how our very inadequacy was his way of drawing us into belonging relationships.
For example, under a large baobab tree the village elders told us we were no longer visitors but their children. Then, as the rains came, we built an outside kitchen, so we could continue cooking over open fires. Many neighbours generously gave time, labour, materials and advice to help get it done.
Finally and most dramatically, one day a religious leader called a village meeting. He was very unhappy at the presence of Christians in his village. But the village turned out to the meeting in huge numbers to support us. In the end, the issue was not even raised, as he realised he was outnumbered.
It is hard being weak; but that is the TIMO way. Having been envisioned as to the benefits of weakness, we are now enjoying its fruits. When we are weak, God is strong.
By Miriam Pugh, Owen & Miriam Pugh and their four children Ella, Charlie, Imani and Cerys live among the Alagwa people in Tanzania.