Many times we wish all the paperwork and permits needed to live and work in other countries wouldn’t be necessary. The visa durations seem so short and we’d rather spend that money on ‘more important things’. Not to mention the days and days of time it takes in the office preparing and printing and signing papers, then the hours spent in government offices. That has been a portion of Tim’s job assignment here in Mbeya town. And yes, I think he’s the perfect person for it as he does so well with public relations. But his spiritual energy wishes to delete the need for it all.
But since our new president things have gotten even more complicated. Things we thought were established since our early years here in the country suddenly weren’t sufficient. We got used to unpleasant surprises and difficulties. But in the last month things have gotten significantly worse. A team of top officials showed up in Ivuna a week ago, asking many hard questions and requesting lots of records of the water program, English school etc. They scheduled a meeting in town with Tim and Noel four days later where they were supposed to hand in all the records. Here is the report from that meeting, which ended up being an eight hour long interrogation.
( Report by Matthew Kauffman) After a visit from a group of officials from the Regional (similar to the State government level in the USA) Immigration office of Songwe, Tim Zeiset and Noel Ornelas were summoned to appear at their office. The meeting was attended by a significant representation of multiple branches of the regional government. The brothers were interrogated and accused of violating Tanzanian law, especially as relates to our organizational structure, constitution and many of the activities we have been engaged in since the beginning of our time in Tanzania. After attempting to reason with them on the basis that we have made every reasonable effort to be legal and open with the government, it became rather obvious that they had already concluded to leave us no room for explanation or successful resolution. They ordered us to stop all activity in the Ivuna area immediately and clear out of that local area within the next month. There is a possibility that we can start from scratch to establish ourselves again in the legal system of the national and regional government. This could take several months or multiple years. Please pray for us as we continue discussions with the government which could have far reaching affects, not only in Ivuna, but also in the Mbeya and Ngara regions where we have other families living and working. Depending on your prayers, your brothers and sisters (totaling 9 families and 6 single workers) serving our Lord in Tanzania. (end of report)
None of us were quite prepared for the the strength of their disapproval. None of us know what the long term implications will be. The immediate implications are that we’re shutting down the clinic and the water program in Ivuna. Beings they gave a month, the missionaries there are planning on spending most of that month there continuing on with Bible classes and preaching before moving out.
*pray for so much wisdom for our men to make decisions on how to best handle this and what to do to regain government approval.
*pray for the dear Ornelas family and Rebecca and Trudy, who are in the various stages of ministry in the village and leaving is very difficult.
*pray that ultimately God’s plan would be fulfilled. We don’t know what all that includes. Perhaps He has another plan other then ours.
*pray for this village. The sick people now without their nurses, the motherless babies without their weekly cans of milk. The hundreds of people without their daily clean buckets of water. The young men in need of discipleship. The new converts. Pray for each one in the church to stand strong!
Thank you for your prayer support!