Ben and Katy Ray link letter no. 22 July 2019

Dear friends,

My hands were caked in dried glue and my neck sticky from the physical work of the day. Night had long since fallen and as I stood up holding onto the long stem of a new standing lamp-base, nine deaf carpenters in blue boiler suits looked back at me. Each of us were keen to complete this final new design so we could get home to dinner and bed.

It had been a hectic final day before loading the truck with our latest produce for the Dar es Salaam market. It was also my last at Neema before heading back to the UK with Katy and the children to welcome our third child into the world. We weren’t too thrilled to be exhibiting again, as we’d hoped to already have a shop open in Dar. Unfortunately, our business partner was forced to pull out at the last minute due to permit issues. Nevertheless, this market was our best yet and we were able to give our staff a much-needed bonus. God is good.

New lampshades for the market

We flew back to the UK leaving behind our wonderful volunteers, Liz, Dom and Malcolm, and our magnificent Neema team to face peak tourist season alone. Please pray for them all, that they would be well equipped to deal with the many challenges that will come their way.

England in the sunshine!

We haven’t seen an English summer for eight years and so it is a real treat to be back while the sun has some warmth in it. Our first couple of weeks were particularly glorious and Zachary and Alessia have enjoyed leafy walks with both sets of grandparents and playing with their cousins. We have been home-schooling Zachary who had to miss the second half of his summer term completely. Katy and I joked together that even if we had to live in a shoe-box on our eventual return to the UK, it’d be okay as the parks and public spaces here are just so good!

The sweet taste of home

Praise God for Katy’s good health throughout the pregnancy (we are now on due date +3 days). Please pray for us as we step into life with three children while managing the Neema Centre and that we can find new local or volunteer managers.

Edda

Since we have been in the UK, we received news that Edda Mponzi, one of our much-loved outworkers, sadly passed away. Edda’s husband had died of cancer only last year and Edda developed a serious thyroid growth soon afterwards. This was operated on by the best available hospital, but Edda’s health never really recovered despite numerous further treatments. She was only in her later forties and has left behind a wonderful 11 year old daughter, Efrasia.

Edda outside her home

We will miss her a great deal as she lived her life with true gratitude and joy. Please pray for Efrasia who is now orphaned and who will start attending a boarding school in the new academic year.

Appeal

We would like to thank all of our readers for your ongoing support of our work in many ways over our eight years of service in Tanzania. Without your prayers and generous support, our work simply wouldn’t be possible. As mentioned in our previous letter, our children – and particularly their school fees – have meant that our outgoings are now a little higher than our income to the CMS account. With Alessia likely to need to go to the International School in Iringa and our new baby on the horizon, we are looking to raise 20-25 per cent more support over the coming year. While we are considering different options, including beginning to ask Neema Crafts itself to cover some of our costs such as visas, flights and accommodation, we would appreciate our support being discussed in the next missions committee meeting at your church.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Paul Read, CMS people in mission funding manager, on paul.read@churchmissionsociety.org and 01865 787525 or contacting us directly if you have any questions relating to our budget – or if you need any more material from us to inspire new people about our work. We also have our unique page on the CMS website for you to give to at: churchmissionsociety.org/ray

Marianna’s story

“When he found out I was deaf, my father left our home. He didn’t want a deaf child, so my mother had to look after me alone. Nobody knows why I lost my hearing, but I was ill around this time with bad back pain, so maybe that was the reason. I remember what it was like when I first realised I was deaf. People would call my name but I would not hear them and it was dangerous for me because I could not hear the cars. Thankfully my friends helped me and I was able to attend a deaf school in Dodoma. When I was in grade 5, my mother died and my aunt was left to care for me.

Mariana makes a dress

“After leaving school there was not much I could do apart from staying at home and helping my aunt. She was happy to have help with the housework but I wanted my own job! After doing a two-year tailoring course, I heard that Neema was employing people with disabilities like me and I really wanted to work there. Despite some resistance from my aunt, I applied and got a tailoring job! That was in 2013, so I have been working here for six years now. I enjoy working at Neema because I have learnt to make many things, including clothes and bags. Thanks to my work here, I now have my own house and I can support myself and my children. I’m so grateful to have a stable job.”

Love Ben, Katy, Zachary, Alessia and bump x

STOP PRESS: Our baby daughter Julia Elizabeth Ray arrived safe and well on Tuesday 25 June, weighing 8lb14oz. Katy is making a good recovery and is just about to make her first venture out to the park in the lovely English sunshine! Zachary and Alessia are both delighted with their baby sister and are constantly wanting to hold her themselves!

Julia on her first day in the world!

 

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