This past week started out with a 6:30AM arrival at the Anglican Church on Sunday morning. I was privileged to preach for 150 people at the first service and 300 people at the second service. Reuben translated my sermon on the story of Naaman (which I first retold in an East African setting) showing how God had something to teach him before healing him. As with Naaman, God often uses our trials to teach us humility, obedience, and perseverance. It was a joy to work with Reuben and we became very good friends even though we were only together for a few days. Ezra, the son of my host family, came home on a school break to translate for me this past week.
We were able to complete the courses I had planned to teach. Pastor Damson of Nyakato told me that the people of his church have been praying diligently for us here in Geita. I believe that God truly answered, because sometimes it was a real struggle to concentrate for many hours a day. The big challenge is to clearly communicate eternal Truths in simple words that can be translated accurately into another language. We made it through Sacramental Studies, Liturgy as Worship, and various Issues of Ministry in East Africa. The students were eager to learn and always had great attitudes. It was an encouragement to be greeted each morning with enthusiastic smiles and many “Yesu Asifiwe!” -- “Amena!”
The weather has been comfortable overall, with a few hot days and a couple rainy days (God smiling down his blessing). The food is good, simple, and not much variety (Would you like rice or ugali?) I am well cared for and fussed over as if I am an important dignitary who is not allowed to carry anything or walk anywhere (May I take your bag please?) I keep asking many questions to help me understand some African ways of thinking (Why is the music at church always played at full volume on huge speakers?) I wonder sometimes who is learning more: myself or my students. I believe that this is a two way street. I am not the one with all the answers. Our African brothers have much to teach us if we are willing to have an open heart and mind.
Geita is an interesting town. It has over 100,000 people in it, but you wouldn't know it by walking around. Once you get off the main street, it quickly becomes a mixture of rural and city life. There are many homes of all sizes and types surrounded by gardens, chickens, goats, donkeys, and cows. Throw in a variety of shops and businesses and intertwine the whole place with rough dirt streets and winding footpaths. I was able to get one good afternoon in walking around enjoying the noise and scenes of the everyday life for regular Tanzanians.
I had some fun with the students on our last day of class. I was joking with them that if anyone failed the final exam, they would have to do some pushups. After the test was over, I asked who thought they had failed, and about 8 men raised their hands. I said, “Come on, join me on the floor!” So, the men and I did a bunch of pushups together with a lot of clapping and cheering going on. They thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen – the "mwalimu" on the floor with his students! Ah, what fun! I bet this is one class they will never forget.
Now it’s off to Mwanza to teach another class. I will be teaching these same courses to a new group of church leaders. It will be great to be working with my good friend Pastor Damson again.
May the peace of Christ be with you,