Our 2nd rural day was both rewarding and exhausting. We had planned to visit 3 churches, Engaruka Chini, Engaruka Juu, and Engeresero today as we drove to Malambo. As has been seen in previous rural trips, the plan is just that… Tanzania happens. So, 3 church visits turned into 6 church visits :-). At four of the visits, they provided food. So, we have been very well fed today! We thought we’d come to Africa and lose a few pounds… that is not turning out to be the case!
The relationships at each of the churches are also getting reinforced along our ways. Pastor Robert is a wonderful guide and host at each church and helps facilitate the relationship building. While others come to Tanzania and build buildings, clinics, or other facilities, we have intentionally come to build relationships that will continue to grow and be strengthened. We have delivered 3 banners now that will hang on the walls of these churches and remind them of the connections we have made. We also have a banner hanging at Cross of Christ which will remind us too.
Each church is so very different in its growth, building phases, structures, etc. but there is commonality between all of them – hospitality. At each location we are very honored guests and it is humbling to know that the people that have so little are so welcoming and gracious with their food and gifts. We have been very happy to see the money we have wired ahead being put to wonderful use. The churches that are being built are very well and some have been surprisingly big (usually when they are near a small town). One of the churches that was an unplanned stop, was the Selalah church which St. Andrews Lutheran church in Bellevue has paid for the roof for (twice!). The church is in the Great Rift Valley and the first roof they put on blew off since the valley gets some very strong winds. The new roof looks very sturdy and we think will hold up to the winds this time :-).
Even at the unexpected stops, we are pleasantly surprised. A great example of this was at the first church we stopped at, Eramatare. It was a very small church made of dung and sticks. We were greeted outside by some of the church leaders and some Maasai women. However, when we stepped inside there were probably 30-40 small children (probably 4-5 years old). What a wonderful surprise! The church was repurposed for a classroom. With so many young faces, we quickly decided to leave our first soccer ball to the class. They were very appreciative and when we were leaving, we noticed their old “soccer ball” sitting next to the door. It was a ball of socks. So, hopefully, they will enjoy their new ball!
We have also been very proud with the youth on our trip – especially today. We did not hear a single complaint about having to stop again and again. Okay, maybe there were a couple comments (even from the adults) but it is obvious that they are all taking it in and enjoying the experiences.
Due to all the stops, we arrived at Sr. Angelika’s guest house pretty late. And, since we ate so much during the day, there weren’t many appetites for dinner but we did enjoy the fellowship and learning a bit about Sr. Angelika’s school and we will learn more tomorrow. It sounds like another wonderful place where God is working to change the lives of so many in wonderful ways.
Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts. You are a blessing to all of us.
Kwa heri (with blessings),
Matt Pohle on behalf of the 2016 Cross of Christ Mission Rural Team