(This update was written Sunday, July 20, 2016. We have been without internet access until today.)
Greetings from the Tanzania Girls School Team!
After a busy Saturday, we had another day of visiting a local congregation we have been in partnership with and enjoyed our Sunday Worship with the Olodongoro congregation. Pastor Nangole showed us around the church that our funds have helped build, and what a contrast from the old building to the new! The old building, which is still being used as a multi-purpose room–and a kitchen on this day–is a small mud hut similar to the church we visited the day before. The new building is much bigger, one of the largest church buildings we have seen on our trip. It’s about the same size as our own sanctuary at Cross of Christ. It has cinder block walls, a corrugated metal roof, and window frames, although no glass as of yet; however, the breeze was refreshing. The floor was pumice rubble. (I will never complain about our carpet again!)
Pastor Nangole led the worship, which was both familiar yet exotic at the same time. We are all Lutherans, but this was with a very African flavor. The adult and children’s choirs sang for us with marvelous skill and enthusiasm. The delightful and distinctive sound of shepherd bells and bleating goats and sheep from passing herds drifted in and out during the service, and Pastor Nangole preached. First in Swahili, then he gave a message to all of us in English to carry home to all of you. A small part of his thoughts include “The Christian message is not full until you have shared it with someone else… building churches with us, talking with us, you share with us the love of Christ. In words and deeds, we have seen the love towards us since we started our partnership. We say God bless you for what you have done. We see that we are neighbors.”
Pastor Dave also addressed the congregation, and gifts were exchanged. Our elders receiving shukas, the rest bead work trinkets and jewelry made by the congregation. We presented another of our banners made by our members of Cross of Christ.
Following the service, it is a Tanzanian tradition to auction off goods brought to the church by folks with no money to spare as their offering. In this case, the goods were food items, plantains, eggs, a bag of oranges. A bidding war ensued over the oranges, one member wanting to purchase them for the feast we visitors were about to receive, and our friend and driver, David Mtui, who wanted to purchase them for the congregation’s children. David Mtui won, and doubly blessed the church, both financially and nutritionally, as the children don’t get much fruit in their typical diet. We were happy to see the children gather around to receive their oranges.
After the auction, we were once again the recipients of a wonderful feast prepared by the women of the church: stewed meat with plantains, rice, pasta, collard greens of some kind, cucumbers and watermelon. We have been humbled by people with such little for themselves who share so generously with us; we are impressed by the hospitality we have received over and over again.
We came home to the Girls School with full stomachs and another lively evening chapel with songs, dancing, and this time games to entertain all. We all laughed and squealed with delight (okay, just the girls squealed, not we older folks so much)! To end the evening, the girls gave us a new fundraising idea, a cake auction. Only they auctioned off one small cake one bite at a time, served on toothpicks! You have never seen a cake cut up so carefully in all your life!
Our time at the Girls School is almost over; we have one more full day here, then off to more visits at other local charities we have supported in the past. Continue to pray for all of us and those we encounter as our adventure in fellowship continues.
Yours in Christ,
Elise, on behalf of The Girls School Team