I was able to get a glimpse of ordinary African life by taking a bus from Geita to Mwanza this past Sunday. I enjoyed riding in the crowded bus, along with many packages, looking out over the red dirt roads and green fields. The scenery is always fascinating to me: boys watching over small herds of cattle and goats, people hoeing the gardens, mud brick homes, passing through tiny villages, always people walking everywhere, women with babies on their backs, neighbors visiting under the shade of a tree. Pastor Damson and I arrived in the midst of a ferocious thunderstorm, eventually catching a taxi to Nyakato on the outskirts of Mwanza.
I am staying with Damson and his family. His wife, Theresia, is a gracious hostess, and their 2 year old twin boys, Wilson and Daniel, are regular bundles of energy. There are several homes and a couple of small dormitories on the church compound. Neighbors are always walking through, going about their errands, with some stopping by to chat a little with the families here. Africa is a noisy place. I can hear birds singing, children calling, chickens crowing, trucks driving, people talking, radios blaring, construction work, groups of school children walking home, a sermon being shouted over a loud speaker from a distant church, the Muslim calls to prayer, and people practicing for church choir. Africa is full of Life and Energy!
We have about 12 students each day, a smaller group than expected, but that gives us opportunity for good interaction in class. Many questions, as usual, showing their eagerness to learn as much as possible in these two weeks we have together. Some “evangelists” were not able to attend each because of their financial limitations. It can be difficult for some to participate when they depend on each day’s wage for survival. Damson and I have developed a deep friendship that enables us to work well together as teaching team. It is a pleasure to be with him each day. He has a true pastor’s heart for his people.
This past Wednesday morning I was able to rise before dawn for a morning walk. I climbed up some huge boulders on top of a nearby hill to sit and pray as I watched the sun rise over the slowly awakening city. I still find it amazing that God has allowed me to be here. Later that afternoon I was invited to preach at the Ash Wednesday service at Damson’s Church. About 75 people showed up to participate in this service marking the start of the Lenten season. I taught about the three parts of Repentance: Conviction – repentance with our hearts; Confession – repentance with our words; and Contrition – repentance with our actions. It was well received by the people.
Damson and I have traveled three hours north of Mwanza by ferry to the Ukerewe Island, population 500,000, to visit his parents for the weekend. They are godly people full of grace and hospitality. It is an honor to be here with them, and to receive an invitation to preach at their church on Sunday. I take these opportunities to share the Word of God very seriously; praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me with life giving words that enable people to grow in the Lord. I am very blessed to be part of the Family of God here in Tanzania.
Monday will find us back in Nyakato for the final week of classes. My health is good overall. I have adjusted to the food and climate. But my mind gets tired from the intensity of teaching for long hours. I appreciate your participation with me in this ministry through your prayers for us here.
May the Peace of Christ be with you,