Looks like the first update didn’t get sent out completely the first time I had connectivity. Oh well, we just got internet access again…
Things are going well for the rural team. We’ve left the girl’s school after 2 days there. It was really great to reconnect up with some of the girls we’ve seen in 2012. Dr. Msinjili and the school were wonderful hosts to us and I’m sure the school team will have an incredible week. They had their first session of conversation groups and Bible study on Monday with the Form 1 girls and they looked like they were already creating some incredible memories and relationships. For the rural team, it was hard to say goodbye to Dr. Msinjili, the teachers, and the girls but we know that God has other plans for us and we are open to this.
We traveled to our first stop, Mto wa Mbo which is in the Great Rift Valley. Along the way we stopped at 2 different churches, Esilale and Bethsaida, which Cross of Christ has supported both in our prayers and financially. Both experiences were very moving. Esilale used to be a mud and stick “building” and Cross of Christ sent money to help them build the walls for a new church. We were very pleased to see that the walls and the roof are on the church! We were welcomed by Pastor Robert who introduced us to the evangelists and congregation members. After introductions, the congregation members and evangelists asked us questions that were very good questions. For example, they wanted to know if the Lutheran church is growing where we live; what our youth do in the church; why the church was shrinking in the US; etc.. It was great to see their interests in us and the church in the US – it is something we didn’t expect. The Maasai women then sang and danced for us which was incredible! They then gave us food (bread, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, and roasted goat). It was a completely humbling experience knowing that they have so little but give so much to us.
We then travelled on toward Mto wa Mbu along the “Serengeti Highway” which is a dirt road that connects the Serengeti to Arusha. We turned off the highway and drove through some really dusty plains to the Bethsaida church. The current church has stick walls and is very small. They have used some of the money we had previously wired to them to lay a foundation for the new church. As in Esilale, they greeted us warmly and Pastor Robert introduced us and the Maasai women sang and danced for us. Anya and Annaliese presented our first banner to them and hung it on the wall of the current church. We then had our 2nd lunch of the day – this time it was fruit and soda (Pepsi, Orange, Black Currant and 7-up).
Both experiences were incredibly moving. The people are wonderful and the relationships we continue to build are why we are here. We are looking forward to more of this in the coming days when we visit Engaruka, Engaruka Juu, and Engeresero.
Thank you for your continued prayers!
Matt Pohle on behalf of the 2016 Cross of Christ Mission Rural Team
P.S. If time and internet connection allows, I will send another update with some additional information and a few pictures!