Wow. What pressure. There is so much to tell and it is so hard to explain. I will try and hit the high points…atleast MY high points. On Monday we went to the Muslim slum and did a VBS for the kids there. We arrived in the morning after sanding benches that we would build later on in the day, and then Chuck and I were thrown into teaching the preschoolers a lesson. We got pretty creative explaining the Parable of the Sower with boxes of soil to match the four different areas of ground that Jesus described. Of course, it’s always more difficult when you have to work through an interpreter, but Apenetu did a great job with helping the kids understand. Then, we went to work on putting together benches for the VBS later that day. We had prepared a puppet show using a recording by Skola and Hilda (the housekeepers) from a script that Jess and I worked on writing, then Chuck helped the kids learn a memory verse about courage, and then all of the 200 KIDS were split into 3 groups: games, crafts, or snacks. It was tiring and exciting all at the same time. One specific girl, Fatma, tugged on my heartstrings. She was an older girl who lived just down the block and she would always hold my hand or smooth my skirt or give me a hug. I love that girl. She introduced me to her mother, and then later in the evening her mom came over to the church and asked Debi if should would be willing to take a picture of her and me. It was really sweet. At dark (6:30 every night all year round), Steve played a video from Good News Productions for the community from a projector that we set up outside. I got to meet so many people, and of course I’m just a poor mzungu (white person) who can only understand “how are you?” or “welcome.” But with God’s help I could communicate in other ways with the people.
On Tuesday, we woke up bright and early and met up with Asnath who took us to a couple villages in the bush to visit the churches and see how the work was going with the Proclaimer. We arrived at the first village, Karao, and were greeted with joyful praise to God. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so beautiful. There building was just some logs that had been put into the ground and a few benches made from spare logs. The pastor said that normally they put a cover over the people to protect them from the sun, but “today God has provided a cover for us” (the clouds). Chuck had prepared a short sermon for the listening groups about God’s guidance and how we need to trust in Him. When we were getting ready to leave, we were asked to stand up at the front because the people had a gift for us. (I have to admit I was kinda scared to find out what it was.) The women of the village came up to the us and presented each of us with some type of jewelry that they had made. It was so touching, and because they speak Ma (language of the Maasai) the only word I could give them was Asha (thank you), although it just could not express how touched I was. Ngoswak was the second village, and when the van pulled up there the people were all jumping and singing. Again, what a beautiful sight. I’m sure God was smiling. The people did not have a building, but instead they met “between the trees.” I wish we would do that in the States. We went through the same routine, and then while we were handing out toothbrushes and oranges, the younger people of the village sang for us. You just can’t imagine how gorgeous it sounded. Chuck presented two goats to a widow who was blind. There’s a funny story to go along with the goats, but you will have to see the video to understand. We got to see some of the huts of the people of Ngoswak, and I do not understand how they can stand the heat and the flies. Marty calls them “Maasai flies” because they are relentless, and they always rest on your face. The kids would have flies crawling over their lip or their eye and wouldn’t even notice. It was something I had to get used to. When we went inside the hut, they had a fire going with the sun already beating down, and they served us hot tea. I was burning up, but that is just their way of life. The people were so thankful to us. The kids wanted to hold our hands…the adults wanted to hug us…and you could see the hope of Christ in their eyes. There are beautiful people here in Tanzania.
On Wednesday we did some shopping around town, so there is not much to tell there. But here are some highlights of our safari.
Only in Africa could I say we had to stop to let the giraffe cross the road and an elephant passed us. When we were headed to Lake Manyara a giraffe went right across the main paved road! And then…an elephant passed not even a foot away from our jeep. I could have reached out my hand and touched it. We saw so many animals, and I’m sure Chuck or David could list them all off. I loved the zebras, giraffes, and elephants the most. It was also AMAZING when we saw two cheetahs getting ready to hunt a gazelle. God sure does make some beautiful animals, although I’m not real sure how the hyena and the warthog fit into that description. We also got to see a rhino from afar and a BUNCH of hippos. There were also some pretty aggressive baboons who stole some bananas out of a van at the entrance into Ngorongoro Crater, and then scared Mike half to death by running toward him. I never got tired of hearing our driver, Freddy, say “Be sure to close your doors and windows so the baboons don’t get in.” Only in Africa.
As far as our team goes, my leg started hurting really bad on Tuesday morning, and just started feeling better today. Debi got a sore throat, but with the help of some allergy medicine, I think she is feeling better. Mike is taking pictures like crazy at every turn. Chuck is already thinking about coming back next year with the help of Marty’s careful planning. Jess is still taking over the front seat to keep away her upset stomach, and David is still on security. Tomorrow we will be wrapping things up and preparing the leave on Sunday. It’s too soon. I feel like I’m finally getting my bearings in Tanzania. I will miss the people we have met…I will miss Steve, Marty and Rachel…I will miss being with our team…I will miss Arusha. I’m excited to share our stories with you when we are back in the States. We have sad stories, funny stories, and humbling stories…stories of the amazing power of God…stories of our struggles…and just stories of the people here.
Sorry this is so long.