A a final photo of our team before we head to the airport! It’s been a wonderful and productive trip!
We arrived in Arusha yesterday afternoon and stopped at a favorite spot of Meg’s and mine. It is Shanga River House, a ministry for disabled people that collects old wine and soda bottles, crush them into a fine powder and then blow glass products from them. They also weave beautiful wool scarves and blankets. We have always tried to buy many of our gifts from them that we can take home to family and friends.
The slogan below is on their outside wall as you drive into the parking lot.
After we got to our hotel we met with David Russell and our Tanzanian SG&M team over dinner. Today we will continue training with them and get to watch them in action at two secondary schools.
We will fly out of Mt. Kilimanjaro Airport and head home to Houston (via Amsterdam). We have been blessed with our time here but are anxious to be back home with our families.
Thanks for following along with my ramblings. It’s hard to find reliable internet but I hope these brief postings had help you share the trip with us.
We spent a wonderful day in the Ngorongoro Crater and a delightful evening in our beautiful lodge. The Internet is intermittent so I am only going to try to post some photos I took of the animals we saw.
we are leaving this morning to go do SG&M training in Arusha today and tomorrow before catching a late flight home on Wednesday!
We left Kenya this morning, but not until we had a quick game drive into Amboselli to see the early morning activity of the animals. We saw three lionesses who was resting after a zebra kill and they (with bloody faces) relaxed while the hyenas cleaned up the remains.
Pour driver, James, drove us to a beautiful out-of-the-way place and we watched a group of female elephants and several juveniles foraging for food on the edge of a palm forest. As we waited, they eventually made their way toward us. To our joy they came right next to our van to feed and we watched a baby elephant feeding off his mother’s milk and playing with palm fronds like a human baby would play with a rattle.
after the game drive, we returned to our lodge (which was just outside the main park entrance), got our bags and started to go back through the park in order to make a direct path to where we needed to go get to the Tanzanian border crossing. To our surprise, they said we could not enter the park again without getting new $60 entrance permits for everyone on our team. That would have been $540! Hakuna Mataram (“no problem!”) says, our friend Moses Pulei! “We’ll just drive around the park. I know a way!” Remember…TIA… “this is Africa!” Nothing ever goes as simply as the Africans tell you, it took us FOREVER to drive around the park on dusty, ranch roads and stream beds before we got to the other side of the park and on the road to the border. Not yet discouraged, we were still happy campers until we saw Moses up ahead with the hood of his car up, his wife and children outside, and him putting out an engine fire with his extinguisher!
God has clearly guided our travels, and within 3 minutes a young Maasai kid pulls up on his motor bike, crawls under the hood, and within 10 minutes had located and fixed the problem! He then just said goodbye and drove off with his friend on the back of his bike. Our guardian angel has made a mechanics stop for us!!
We made it across the border and spent the night in Arusha. It is Sunday…the Lord’s day…and we are driving to the Ngorogoro Crater where we will spend the night and then head back to Arusha for more SG&M teaching.
i wanted you to see how wonderful our safari was today as we searched in vain for wild animals!
We we were invited to have lunch with Moses Pulei’s family in their home to celebrate our last day in Kimana. We were greeted warmly by Moses’ mother (Mama Moses) and his brother Tyson’s wife (Mama Nasieku). In Maasai culture women are called by placing the name of their firstborn child in front of “Mama.”
We had a wonderful lunch of potatoes, lentils, and chipati (similar to rolled up tortillas). As we were beginning the lunch we heard the sound of a goat bleating outside! It was like he was crying out, “Meeeeegggg! Meeeegggg!” We knew this was going to be the main course. Some in our group went out to watch the whole process while others passed on witnessing the ritual. One of the Maasai, who has “spearheaded” the event, brought in a couple of goat legs and carved them on the coffee table!
After lunch we went to Margaret Wanjuri’s home where her mother wanted to serve us chai. Margaret is the wonderful young girl from Oloile whom we supported through the university in Nairobi. She has now finished her degree and has graduated as an accountant. The photo above is of Margaret and her brother James in front of their home (about 20 ft. X 7 ft., with a dirt floor). Margaret lives there with her mother Tabitha and her two younger siblings.
We are so proud of Margaret and she and her family were so honored that we would come for tea at their house.
We were able to go for a short game drive late in the afternoon and saw lots of elephants!
This morning we will be leaving to drive back into Tanzania for a relaxing weekend in the Ngorongoro Crater!
Our SG&M team have just completed two full days or teaching with the students at Oloile Secondary School and I have just finished with my annual pastors’ conference! When we began on Wednesday morning the students responded very quietly and acted very indifferent to our being there. Meg and I reminded the team that this was a cultural thing that we experience every year. The Kenyans, by nature, are very shy but they warm up very quickly. By the time we finished the second full day you would have thought we had known these kids all their lives. They were excited, responsive, laughing, and all of them wanting to have their pictures made with our team members.
I was teaching the pastors (from 9 am to 4 pm) on the book of Ephesians but during breaks for tea and lunch I could observe Meg and the team as they worked with the students.
Late in the day, as we finished our teachings, the pastors said they wanted to thank us for coming to share this “good news” with them. They presented shukas (the colorful outer garments work by Maasai warriors) to all our team and gave Meg and me beautifully beaded “elders” clothing.
Today we will be visiting some of the homes of the students and teachers and enjoy a more relaxing day.
We arrived in Arusha late Monday evening and stayed in a nice “country” hotel not far from the Kilimanjaro Airport. The next morning we headed out to the Kenyan border and arrived around 1 pm. This is a remote border crossing and you have to “exit” Tanzania and then “enter” the port in Kenya. We did not get the process completed until 3:45 pm. Time (and limited internet dependability) won’t allow me to tell you all that happened, but let me say…their bureaucracy made the VA look fabulous!
We drove another hour to the town of Kimana and to Oloile Secondary School where we greeted the principal and staff and met briefly with the students. The Rev. Moses Muguro arrived from Nairobi to join us as did The Rev. Moses Pulei and his family, coming in from Arusha.
Margaret Wanjuri also joined us for the week. Margaret is a graduate from Oloile School who completed her schooling with honors but could not go to university for lack of funds. Three years ago we awarded her a full financial backing to attend Presbyterian University in Nairobi. Next month she will graduate and be awarded her degree in accounting! We are so proud of Margaret and she joins us each summer to tell the students what the SG&M program did to change her life. She is living proof of what God is doing in Africa!
I have limited internet access but will try to bring my blog up to date this evening when it is again available!
Till then, may God bless all of you!
Doug (Baba Doug)
We left left our hotel early this morning, with it’s placid view of the Indian Ocean, and headed out to attend the dedication of the “Valentine Children’s Home,” which was funded by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The Rev. Greg Kronz, a long time friend of mine and Bishop Mokiwa, was here for the Diocese’s 50th Anniversary celebration. The orphanage was funded and developed through the generosity of his church and their long time relationship with the Bishop. Two very special members of his parish, Dr. Jeff Vanderslice and his wife Joanie, were instrumental in the vision and fund-raising effort that led to today’s celebration. The orphanage opens with 12 children who have been referred to the Diocese by different agencies and officials who have “rescued” them from dire situations. Bishop Valentine, in his presentation remarks, referred to one little boy who did not know the word “mother” and was being taught what it means. Can you imagine a three-year-old child who could not identify with the concept of having a mother?
The celebration, in true African style, was a grand occasion (as it should be) that truly celebrated the new chance at life these babies were being given. Everyone on our team was deeply touched by the joy and innocence of the children as we were able to visit with them and experience the excitement they displayed at just being held and loved. Can God’s love be more perfectly experienced than we witnessed today in these beautiful babies?
Wow! Today was a day for the record books! Bishop Valentine told me on Friday I would be preaching at the Sunday service. Then he didn’t tell me what the texts were until Saturday morning. As you may recall, it was Leviticus! I was wondering if it was about foreskins or women’s personal things or what!! To my relief it was about the year of jubilee (occurs every 50 years). What he didn’t tell me was this was the BIG 50th anniversary service…over 3,500 people in attendance, at an outdoor venue and I would have a Swahili interpreter for my sermon! This was like telling me 24 hours before the SJD 75th Anniversary dinner that I would be preaching AND there would be five times as many people. Hey, I think Peter converted 3 or 4 thousand people on Pentecost, so I was eager to see about a new record!
So…he says to arrive at 8:30 am to have plenty of time for the service. Howard Castleberry and I go in time to get there and our driver goes back to the hotel to pick up Meg, Chaille, Carolyn, and the others to bring them later. Remember, the service is to start at 9 am. At 10 am,when Bishop Mokiwa arrives. we finally start the grand and great procession of about 60 clergy and bishops from all over Tanzania and hundreds of choir from all across Dar. I am seated up on the dias with the “dignitaries,” including a candidate for the upcoming presidential election, and everything is being spoken in Swahili. Remember…TIA, “This is Africa” …the service doesn’t end until after 3 pm! So, Howard and I are wondering why at home (in Texas) we cater to make services quicker and faster so that we can accommodate families who are only willing to devote one hour on Sunday! Imagine that most of these families had to travel for 1.5 to 2 hours to get to this service and then they very lovingly and comfortably stay there for 4.5 hours and joyously participate in the whole service.
Other than the length, it was an OUTSTANDING day of celebration for the Diocese. My preaching was pretty lame, but I blame it all on the translator. The choirs were beautiful and animated. And the bishops and clergy were in rare form.
We are all exhausted after spending the entire day for one worship service but were so thankful that we had been here to support Bishop Valentine.
While Howard and I were with Bishop Valentine for the water well dedication, Meg, David, Chaille, Carolyn, Eileen, and Chris went to observe our Tanzanian SG&M team (Jackson, Job, Miriam, and Esther) as they presented the curriculum to 65 children at Watoto Wetu Orphanage.
Carolyn, Chaille, and Meg loved visiting with the smaller children as Jackson and Job started their introduction of SG&M to the older students. Meg said it was a joy to watch our Tanzanian team deliver the message of SG&M in their own tongue and to see how the seeds that we planted here in Dar over seven years ago have born such amazing fruit through the work of David and Janet Russell and this team they assembled through Moja Mission. These are incredible and talented young people who are proclaiming God’s message of sexual purity and blessing. Jackson has his own radio show, Esther has just published a book to empower young women to become all that God has created them to be (“Woman, Arise”) and Miriam is an outstanding singer/musician who is a regular on local tv and leads praise and worship celebrations around the city.
it was a long, exhausting first day in Africa and today we are relaxing and preparing for tomorrow’s big Sunday celebration for the Diocese’s 50th Anniversary. Bishop Valentine “honored” me by telling me this morning that I was the preacher for tomorrow’s service! The text, I asked…it’s Leviticus! No warning, no time for preparation, Leviticus? Are you kidding me? Remember…TIA!
So, tonight I will be asking the Lord to lay some words on my heart about “The Jubilee Year!” At least it wasn’t one of the worst Leviticus passages!