Greetings from Tanzania! I pray that God is blessing all of you as He is us — and that you are enjoying your life in Him. It’s the only life for which you were intended to live. So I’m new at this mission update thing; please bear with me. In China I would often write emails to folks back home, but never really with the purpose of updating them on my ministry or really even on my life. Rather I wanted to share funny stories that might give just a bit of insight into life as a missionary in Wuhan. I’m not sure what the updates from Africa will look like exactly, but the first one will look like this:
Christie and I are currently in Mwanza, Tanzania, staying with Jason and Emily Miller, who are on a COC mission team here that is made up of four families. Jason and Emily went to Lipscomb with me, though we didn’t know one another well. But now we are sharing a house, along with their two sons Judah and Ezra. While in Mwanza we’ve been able to go out to villages a number of times for Bible study and worship, which has been great — especially because the Mwanza team is working with the Sukuma people, the same people group we intend to reach in the rural areas surrounding Geita. Also in Mwanza, we’ve been able to buy cell phones and get driver’s licenses, and get Christie a root canal for a lot less than it would cost in the states. It’s been a real blessing to be encouraged by the Mwanza team here, who have made our team a priority in many ways, helping us to understand Tanzanian life, Sukuma culture, and bits of a couple of languages.
Speaking of languages, we will begin language school on May 4. We will study at Riverside Camp Language School in Iringa, Tanzania. School is five days a week. We’re excited about language studies at Riverside, because their program has us in the classroom in the mornings and then practicing what we’ve learned in town in the afternoons. Christie and I believe that’s a good mix for us of textbook learning and culture immersion.
We were able to spend two nights and parts of three days last week in Geita, where we’ll be moving after language school. Aaron Bailey of the Mwanza team accompanied us to translate and give advice (which is much needed at this point). We were able to visit with Daniel and Steffi Kroppach, who are working with a mission organization out of Germany. As far as we know, they are the only foreign missionaries in Geita — and they were able to share some insights into life and ministry from their year and a half of having been in town. We spent several hours one day walking around the market smiling and greeting people in our very poor Swahili (save Aaron). We were happy to find the people of Geita friendly and welcoming, even excited about us moving there to do God’s work. We had been concerned there may be an aversion to foreigners, because the vast majority of visitors to Geita are involved with gold mining, and therefore are viewed at least in many ways as taking advantage of others and exploiting the community for personal gain. But it seemed that as soon as we showed interest in actually meeting people and speaking with them (attempting even to do so in their own language), it was obvious we were not part of the gold mining crowd — and could be welcomed into the community.
– Please pray that God will continue to help us in adapting to a new culture and a new way of life. And that He will use this time (when we’re not overly involved in ministry to others) to minister to us and mold us into the ministers He desires for us to be.
May God bless you greatly, so that you may bless others. And have a wonderful Easter!