Saturday, July 18, 2015
Friday, July 17, 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
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(It's been awhile since Team Kenya has posted on the blog, but after determining that failed e-mail has been the cause, we're ready to catch up!)
If Etago is Jennifer's African home and Moi's Bridge is Kristen's, then Uganda is definitely mine. I've been the newbie the entire trip, not knowing what to expect, so I'm glad that everyone is at my level here.
We arrived at the border of Uganda and Kenya on Friday afternoon. Immediately, we could sense a difference in the temperature (hot), and see a difference in the terrain. While Kenya is green, Uganda brings it to a whole new level and is brimming with green.
For first school we visited, we arrived at 5 pm, by that point some of the children had needed to leave for the night, and we didn't know how many would even be there. For sure, I thought, there would only be 10 left. However, we were greeted with the beautiful singing of more than 50 people, clapping and smiling as we arrived. What an encouraging sight!
Saturday, we got a taste of a Ugandan church service. Lots of performances and songs and audience participation, definitely a different experience, but a welcome one none the less. We all are trying to soak up as much of the African experience that we can before we leave in less than a week.
Yesterday, after another church visit and a detour or two, we got to be real tourists for a couple hours and visit the source of the Nile River. Today we head back to Kenya for the last leg of our journey.
We have been incredibly blessed with good weather and good health the entire trip. It's clear that the hand of God has been at work for us these last few weeks!
Sunday, July 12, 2015
The Mission Helper's Thursday was filled with ups and downs, literally– but, more on that later. . . The TanzaniA-team headed back out on the road early in the morning to visit the congregations and schools in the Makanya area. We were blessed with safe travels and arrived at the school run by our church in Makanya. We met with Pastor Mshana and his wife, Rosemary, then walked into the classroom. The children greeted us with songs and we all taught our lessons. What a blessing to be able to share God's word with all these little lambs! After teaching our lessons we went outside and played with the children. We played the high five game, giant rig-around-the-rosie games, and took pictures with as many children as possible! The children are all super sweet and full of energy! Our group of children grew larger and larger as the students in the public schools were let out. We had a lot of fun forming new relationships with all the local children
of Makanya! Now, back to the ups and downs. After playing with the children, we were given the opportunity of a lifetime to hike one of the hills surrounding Makanya. It was an amazing opportunity to see the landscape from a different point of view! "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork." So true here! We got back and had supper along with evening singing and prayers.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We pray that the Lord will bless the rest of our time here in Makanya!
Lala Salama! (Good night)
Jessica Schreyer Team Tanzania
"But all things should be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40).
This has been a very different trip from my ususal visitations. In the past few years I have been working primarily with the pastors of our districts putting on seminars and pastoral conferences. One of the only times I visit congregations is for the church services on Sunday mornings. Traveling with the Mission Helper Team has changed my role a little this year. The focus of the Mission Helper Team is to get out to congregations and do child evangelism in the communities. So we are visiting more congregations on this trip than I have in several years.
This year our team is using a series of lessons from a CLC VBS series titled "Who is like the LORD?" Raven has been teaching the account of Creation, Jess Schaller teaches a lesson on Redemption using the life and death of Jesus, Jessi Schreyer is teaching Sanctification using the account of Zaccheus, and Sam Naumann is teaching about Glorification. It covers the law and the Gospel, justification and sanctification very well.
The first two days in the Moshi district have been more like previous years. We are in the process of some important work that needed to be completed while I was here. The church body is working through a Constitution for the Tanzanian Church of the Lutheran Confession. This is a necessity before we can register with the government and be recognized as an official church in Tanzania. If you are not registered with the government it is illegal to post signs etc. announcing your congregation. So it is very important that the constitution is completed and the church officially registered.
On Monday, pastors of the districts of the TCLC met together to go over the first draft of the church constitution. There was a great deal of discussion, and it took most of the day, but the day went well and at the end all the pastors present voted to accept the constitution and to move forward with the registration with the government. We thank the Lord for His blessing on the work so far, and pray that He would give strength and endurance to complete the work before us!
On Tuesday I met with the pastors of the Moshi district for a one day pastoral conference. Ten pastors were in attendance and we continued our study of the articles of the Augsburg Confession. Sam presented a lesson on the person and work of Jesus, and I discussed the article on sin. This too was a very productive day and rewarding in many ways.
Tomorrow we will visit three different congregations in the Moshi district and presenting our condensed one-day VBS program and on Thursday we move south to Makanya.
May the Lord continue to bless the preaching of His Word of Truth throughout Africa!
Friday, July 10, 2015
Rest assured moms and others- We're all alive and doing very well! I've even seen Sam eating some vegetables! Yesterday was bananas busy for the team, so I apologize for not giving an update sooner!
After 2 days off, we went full force into Wednesday. We traveled many kilometers and visited 3 groups of precious lambs!
Our first group wasn't actually a church, but was a school. What I really loved about this group was that it was all preschool and kindergarten age kids! They were kind enough to sing us a song or two, and as you can imagine, we had a lot of energized kids eager to hear about our Savior and ready to play after our lessons! Many new friends were made!
The second and third groups that we visited were churches, so we made a lot of old and young new friends! The thing that really hit me about these two churches were the songs they sang to us. If I could wake up to their songs every day, I would definitely become a morning person! The harmonies, clapping, percussion, and just straight up sincerity in their voices warm my heart! I cannot WAIT to hear their beautiful voices again in Heaven!
Throughout this trip, we've all been reminded of the constant outpouring of God's grace and blessings to us. The beautiful singing, gorgeous landscape (layers upon layers of mountains, hills, and plains! Everywhere you look, something more beautiful!), and the precious lambs he has us tending to this week have made my heart more full than I could have ever imagined!
Bwana Asifiwe, Praise the Lord, for his unlimited love!
Thursday, July 9, 2015
- Overcoming the language barrier while teaching children on these Mission Helper Trips can be a challenge. Here in Zambia, the official language is English, so we have actually been able to teach a few lessons without using a translator. Although it is the official language, English is the second language (and sometimes 3rd or even 4th) for the people here in Zambia. Here in Lusaka the common language is Nyanja. In Livingstone, Ntonga. In Kitwe, Bemba. (note: these are 3 separate languages, not 3 different dialects of the same language) For the groups in East Africa, they have undoubtedly heard the word "mzungu" (usually said by a child pointing a finger and yelling to their friends), which is roughly translated to mean "white person" (wazungus is the plural form). We have learned from experience that the word is not confined only to the Swahili language spoken in East Africa, but crosses many African languages, including Nyanja, Ntonga, and Bemba, and we are wazungus here as well. That being said, a soccer ball (football to the rest of the world) transcends the language barrier quite well.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
We had our last night at Christina House and went to the parish that Pastor Jeremiah serves in Arusha for Sunday church. The liturgy was surprisingly similar to what we use and he picked all German melody hymns so that we would have an easy time singing along (Although there were definitely differences because they sing all of their melodies from memory and don't have music printed out, but only the words). Swahili is pretty easy to read so we were all able to sing loud and long to our Lord with our fellow believers here in TZ. After that we had a short lunch with Pastor J and his family. His son and daughter in-law drove us to the bus stop and we took a shuttle over to Moshi.
Monday, July 6, 2015
The Lord has really been blessing our trip so far! We have been blessed with a wonderful hotel to stay at that offers AMAZING food as well as wonderful fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have been so welcoming to us during our stay here in Tanzania.
Our day started off the same with a delicious breakfast of African pancakes, eggs, sausage, and bananas. We then had a very nice devotion before splitting off to do some laundry before Pastor Jeremiah picked us up to head out to Pastor Edward's church in a rural Masai village. Our drive out there was CRAZY! Besides the typical traffic with no real rules,we also got to experience some pretty extreme off-roading. Thanking the Lord that our vehicle stayed in one piece! All the bumpy roads and off-roading was well worth it! When we approached the Masai village church, we were greeted with the pastors and children singing a very cool song! About 50 children were in attendance, and each one of them were so precious! We all taught our lessons and handed out our gifts. I pray that our lessons of the gospel will allow the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of all of the souls who hear our lessons. But, I am always reminded of the verse from Matthew "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them", these words always bring me comfort when I teach my lesson. After handing out gifts, we all headed outside to play with the children and take lots of pictures! Afterwards, we enjoyed tea with the pastors and went on our way so that the children could travel home before dark. After another crazy drive home, we settled back into our hotel and enjoyed another delicious supper.
We are all really enjoying our time here and learning a ton! The Lord has and continues to bless us as we work to spread the gospel to as many souls as possible! We all appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers!
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Well, tomorrow we take off for Livingstone and will be visiting Victoria Falls on Tuesday.
Love from your Wazungus in Lusaka!
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Saturday, July 4, 2015
Yesterday (Thursday, July 3) started out on a delicious note- Africa Pancakes and Fresh Bananas! It's crazy how much tastier fresh bananas are compared to what we eat in America. Sorry mom, but I may never eat another banana at home again! After fueling up for the day, we were picked up by Pastor Jeremiah and headed towards Arusha and beyond. Driving in Africa is absolutely bananas to me, but I'll save that for another time. We made it safely out of Arusha, and when we did, the land changed abruptly. Here where we're staying, the land is very lush and green, with a lot of hills. It's absolutely beautiful, but not what I expected to see in Africa. However, on the other side of Arusha it looks like it's straight out of the Lion King- brown and red dirt, dried grasses, plains, and mountains in the distance. Even the trees were breathtaking. No pictures or words could ever begin to describe or capture the beauty there is to be seen out here! What a Creator!!
Friday, July 3, 2015
Thursday, July 2, 2015
When we arrived in Etago, there was a huge line of children singing to us and leading us to the building. When we sat down inside, they continued to sing beautiful songs and tell us stories in Swahili. It was just as incredible as it was three years ago.
Jambo from Tanzania!
Praise the Lord who blessed our team with safe travels and good health. Team Tanzania left Chicago with Team Kenya to Amsterdam and split up from there to our final destinations. The flights were long, but very smooth. All luggage arrived with us except for Sam's checked bag, which will hopefully arrive very soon because he has the tiniest carry-on bag I have ever seen :-) After we were picked up from the airport late on June 30th, we were all ready for a good night of much needed sleep. We are staying at a beautiful place with amazing food. I am beyond excited to see what God has in store for us and the wonderful people of Tanzania. God is so good!
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
July 1 - Meet with pastors in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 2 - Arusha Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 3 - Arusha Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 4 - Arusha Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 5 - Church in Arusha area / travel to Moshi in afternoon
July 6 - TCLC Conference in Moshi all day
July 7 - Moshi Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 8 - Moshi Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 9 - Moshi Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 10 - Travel to Makanya / meet with pastors in evening
July 11 - Makanya Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 12 - Church in Makanya / congregational seminar and VBS with children in the afternoon
July 13 - Makanya Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 14 - Makanya Pastoral training in morning / return to Moshi in the afternoon
July 15 - Return to Kilimanjaro airport in evening for return trip home
Thank you all for your prayers for a successful visitation. May Christ's name be glorified in all that is said and done!
Phoenix to L.A. to Amsterdam to Nairobi with a maximum of two hour layover in each city kept us cruising along. The usual mish-mash of foreign businesspeople, returning residents, tourists, volunteers and others jammed into our oversold flight headed for Jomo Kenyatta International airport. The international terminal is still being rebuilt from the fire that consumed nearly the entire thing two years ago. Passengers deplaned onto the tarmac and crammed into buses that shuttled weary masses to the immigration line. That's where things really start to liven up. Fill out your blue entry card, or the tan one they gave you on the plane, don't forget to pick up a visa application…oh and your customs form. Once you actually get the visa to be allowed in the country from the surly desk agent it's time to play "Where in the airport is my luggage…if it is, indeed, in the airport?" The little things we take for granted at airports like the signs that point us in the right direction or the instructions you can study while waiting in line, you know the ones that we reply to in our heads with "Well, duh, everyone knows to have their I.D. and boarding pass out for inspection" are sorely missed in this setting. Oh, but that's not all. That suitcase full of maybe forty dollars' worth of books or medical supplies that you decided to bring along to help people can be taxed at a nearly one hundred percent rate. Thanks, Obama. (He's just an easy target these days.) It's really not that bad after the 7th or 8th time coming through this way. I know that it's way better having someone travel alongside of you. She's (Anna, aka Mrs. Gurath, aka the more popular Gurath in Kenya already) counting how many times I mention that traveling alone is the worst and traveling with her is tremendously better. So far, it's a lot. Jemima and her friend Joan were kind enough to pick us up from the airport and take us to our guest house for the evening. We are already adjusting to the time change and had Monday to finalize some trip details and even make it out to see our friends at the Lutheran Heritage Foundation out in the suburb of Hardy with the help of driver and friend, Abdallah. He laments the fact that I come every year at Ramadhan and we don't have the opportunity to sit down to a meal together as he is fasting during the day. They have been very generous in helping with our work here in East Africa by providing issues of Good News Magazines, along with catechisms, The Book of Concord, God's No and God's Yes by Walther and several hymn books in either Swahili or a local language. We went to and fro without hitting the dreaded Nairobi traffic jam and settled in for the evening. Thanks for all the prayers and support. Psalm Devotion of the day Psa 62:1-2 . For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. (2) He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
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Monday, June 29, 2015
It's departure day for most of the Mission Helpers. Pastor Mike and Anna Gurath arrived in Nairobi yesterday and will spend the next couple of days getting things ready for the others on the Kenya Team.
The thirteen other Mission Helpers will be arriving in Chicago today by air and by land. A big thanks to Pastor David Pfeiffer and the members of Ascension Lutheran in Batavia (Chicago area) for helping out again with shuttling us to and from the airport and taking care of vehicles while we're gone.
The Kenya and Tanzania teams fly out together this afternoon while the Zambia team starts their 37+ hour (flights and layovers) trip to Lusaka later this evening.
Your prayers are greatly appreciated. We'll try to check in along the way.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
|A Dala Dala |
waiting for more passengers in Tanzania
Michael Gurath (Phoenix, AZ)
Kirsten Gullerud (Mountain View, CA)
Jennifer Grabow (Mankato, MN)
Hannah Hulke (Eau Claire, WI)
|Pastor Ibrahim with the children|
during the 2001 Mission Helper Trip to Tanzania