Sunday, June 30, 2013

Landed in Washington!

So many thanks!  We will have lots of stories!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Heading Home!

Today is travel day!  Our house is buzzing as we repack our things!  We are leaving lots of American things...but our bags still seem full!  We head to the airport in about 4 hours!  Lord willing we arrive into the states (Washington DC) on Sunday morning at 8:30 and into Charlotte in the afternoon.  Thanks for all our prayers!  We have many stories to share with you!

Headed to the Mountain!

We said good-bye to our fearless mountaineers!  Please pray for them!  Please pray all day Tuesday as they attempt to summit!  They were so you can imagine

Pulling out!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Car issues

Reflection from Mary Pat.   

Ok so here's the deal.  Bobs van always had to be in front of us, so we were literally eating dirt.  Well to stay back so we were not totally eating dirt we (A) lost their van while trying to find the village to install the water filtration (B) broke down in the middle of nowhere!  I knew we were in trouble when the driver picks up trash from the side of the road and stuffs it into the rear axle, and then proceeds to throw  in the car a part that looks like the drive shaft!  I looked right in the drivers eyes and said "Don't we need that to go on?"  To which he replies "NO PROBLEM"........yeah right! By the way the part we were able to get along WITHOUT is the part laying on the ground!!

Water Filters, Bag Gardens, Grading Papers, Oh My! Part 3

Grading Papers - So I show up and look into one of the classrooms and see Mike and  Bob helping grade the exams the children had just taken the day before.   So, being a teacher, I sat down and started grading.  This is how they grade papers, they have 4 - 5 people each take one exam, then someone else calls out the answers.  This is a very slow process as there are 500 students per classroom.  Now imagine grading one paper at a time and going over and over.  Then they take all those grades and list them by highest to lowest score.  There were fifty questions and the highest grade was a 39.  They are tested on math, English, social studies, science, and ki-swallii.  The paper over here is so precious to them, and we have so much, it amazes me.   I was just going to help for a while and then go and play with the children, however, every time I tried to get up, the teacher said please stay.  The misinformation the people here is truly frightful.  For example, they think Americans have a cure for AIDS!  AIDS is so prevalent here, and most of us have worked with people who have AIDS.  We have no idea how truly blessed we are in the States!  Tomorrow we go home....yes I know this post is a little late.....See everyone soon and thanks for all your  prayers, they have been felt.

Water Filters, Bag Gardens, Grading Papers, Oh My! Part 2

Bag Gardens

Mike, Glen, and I were glad to help to plant 11 mango, 3 orange, and 3 guava trees at the Tanzanite Primary school.  We were also able to start 3 bag gardens that will produce kale, chines cabage, onions, and night shade.  Joseph (the principal/ headmaster) and a handful of students really pitched in.  They were so eager to plant.  You may notice some of their banana trees and garden in some of the pictures.

After we finished the trees, we had many seedlings left over.  Glen donated the seedlings to the community.  Seventeen women left with a bag (like the one in the picture above) filled with vegetable seedlings.  

As we left, we stopped by the Mbuguni Church and planted 3 fruit trees at the church and left about 5 fruit trees to Nyari (the Mbuguni preacher). 

It was great to be able to help connect the church with the school and vice-versa. 

Water Filters, Bag Gardens, Grading Papers, Oh My! Part 1

Water Filters

Thursday took us to a small town called Mbuguni to distribute two water filters. This is the same town where we visited a school on Tuesday and played soccer with the school children. God directed us to this school and though it was not our original plan, we decided to donate a water filter to the school.  We made plans to return on Thursday at ten in the morning and meet with the parents of the school children to teach them about the water filter. We arrived at noon, in line with "Africa time," and gathered the families in the classroom. They were skeptical at first as we described how this plastic cylinder could remove the "bad things" from their water and make their water clean so that they would not become ill. Many of them were afraid to drink water because it typically made them ill. They get most of the water by drinking Chai which they know to be safe as it is boiled. They did understand that boiling water removes the bad things but they explain that boiling the water is expensive. We had them get water from their source which is essentially a drainage ditch fed by diverting water from a local river. The water is dirty appearing which is evident in the above picture. We passed the dirty water through the filter and it came out crystal clear. This amazed them but was even more dramatic when we drank water from the bottle that they had collected from their sources. Visitors never drink their water. Soon, many of them were drinking from the bottle. They were asking for more, however, there were some holdouts. One man, who had refused to drink the water because he said that the water made his stomach sick, said that the water was not dirty enough. We asked him to get dirt from outside to make it dirtier. He did and the filter made it clear, after this he took the bottle and drank. From there the questions began. The questions seemed to be planted by God as they were excellent and covered every possible angle, many we did not even consider. They asked if the filter was only for one religious group. We explained that though we are Christians and do not hide that fact, the filter is for everyone no matter what they believe. Also, the local "mayor" was there who asked very good questions and gave his full support of our effort. We continued answering questions and truly felt as though we had developed a true relationship with the community, a relationship that will continue to be developed and will no doubt bring more people to Jesus.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Journey to the Masaai

The Masaii journey was an eye opening experience.  To see how the Masaii live, and experience a snippet of their culture was truly a life changing experience for the entire team.  While everywhere is true Africa, the Masii people are what reminded me most of what I expected to see in Africa.

The day started with us heading to the Mgbuna village to pick up Nyari who was to be our tour guide into the bush to visit with the Masaai.  Our first village stop the Patriarch was not there but was tending to the livestock in the field and could not return until much later in the day.  So we stayed for a while and got to know them and share the love the Jesus.  Our intention was to return later in the day.

We then ventured to the second village where the Patriarch was once again out in the field.  At this villiage we also toured the grounds and spent some time in their church praising God and enjoying heir fellowship.  We also were able to install a water filtration system for which they were truly thankful. The Masaai are truly a remarkable people.

Now this is where the real fun begins.  Wanting to head back to the first villiage and being short on time the words of every great adventure were spoken "I know a shortcut."  Everything seemed to be going fine and we were making good time through the deep deep deep dirt and dust 
when we pull up to a small shop and Nyari jumps out to commandeer a ride on a motorcycle to get us back on the "right path"  He takes us back to the correct route and a few miles down the road we once again stop at a shop and yep Nyari gets on the back of motorcycle #2.  At this point the adventure is feeling like many scenes from the movie "The Gods must be crazy"  Continuing down the dusty roads of life with dirt flying as high as the windows on the seemingly indestructible Land Cruisers yep we make a stop #3 to ask for help aaaaaagain. This time however impromptu motorcycle guide #3 could not get his bike started and we were down to 1/4 tank of petrol.  However, the bike eventually started and he was able to get us back to Mgbunu and then continue down one of the smoothest roads in all of Africa :0) and return to Arusha to complete the day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mission to Mbuguni

It rained last night. Why is that important? Because it meant the hour long ride to Mbuguni wouldn't be as dusty...or so we thought. But once we arrived we were warmly greeted by Nyari, the Pastor of the church there. After introductions and some "Africa time" discussions about our plans, we headed to the primary (elementary) school to meet some kids. Did we ever meet some kids!
Soccer appears to be a universal language and the entire team was involved in some sort of activity from soccer to painting nails to reading children's books, to other ball type games. Even the school principal played. Today I was reminded of the passage from Proverbs 19:21 that says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." We went to Mbugni with the good plan of providing three water filters to various families. What we found was that God had a great plan to give the school a water filter as a gift from the church. So on Thursday, we are meeting with as many of the kids and parents as possible to demonstrate and teach the benefits and use of the water filter. We are finding that the kids will be the first to adopt the new concepts and encourage their parents to accept the new way of doing water purification. So rather than three families, God is providing the bigger part of the community with a blessing. More on this on Thursday's blog.
We did present the water filter to Nyari and his wife in the afternoon. What a blessing to see the look of amazement on their faces when they saw the before and after of their drinking 
They eagerly wanted to drink the pure water and said they can't wait to use it and share it. Another blessing was when Nyari said that Jesus cleans our hearts the same way the filter cleans the water. He concluded, "Once clean, who would ever want to go back to being dirty again?" God is Good!  

The Elephant in the Room!

As we entered the park we were excited to see a heard of elephants and water buffalo. We decided to camp on the rim of the canyon and sleep in tents. We had our own cook who had to share the kitchen with other groups.  We enjoyed talking with a group of 4th year med students from the UK who were working in local hospitals. Larry enjoyed talking about places he had visited in the UK 10 years ago. After we finished eating Mike and Billy were returning to bathroom when they were told there was an elephant in the camp group.  Very quickly the the entire dining hall (which looked the terradactyl cage from Jurassic Park) cleared out.  The elephant was thirsty and was drinking from the water tank. It was an awesome sight. When the elephant left you could not even hear it move. Poor Mary Pat missed out on the experience.  Later while we slept two water buffalo walked within feet of our tents.

Ngorongora Crater National Park

After several days of working hard putting siding on the church, playing soccer, painting finger nails, and installing water filters, we endured a long ride to a beautiful national park. This is a photo of the group in front of a lake filled with hippo. 

The day before we arrived only one lion was seen in the park, but we saw seven. We saw these males on the prowl. We also saw elephants, water buffalo, jackels, wharthogs, various deer like creatures, many wildebeest, hyenas, baboons, monkeys, and many different birds including ostriches. We rode in the park in land rovers right out of Wild Kingdom. The tops opened and we were able to stand up and look at the animals with no fear of being eaten. Lunch was in a box prepared by the safari outfitter which we ate in the Landrover to avoid being swarmed by ravenous birds. We completed our tour and we safely exited the park within our five hour time restriction.

We were all amazed at the enormous beauty of this park. We saw almost all of the "classic" Africa animals. 

Supplies for the Project

Today Larry and I rode with Billy (on site Missionary) and Glen (local guy who provide transportation) to get supplies. The goal was to hit the hardware store, grab the days box lunches and get out to the mission site.  Immediately upon leaving we are heading downtown Arusha to pick up a SIM card for the phone. Glen owns a computer store there. On the way, we stop. Glen jumps out of the car and starts talking to a man in Swahili. I ask Billy what is going on an he says Glen saw a wrecked Subaru and was asking about buying the front end. Glen recently had an accident in his Subaru so the front end is smashed up(which we are driving by the way).  Glen gets back in an we proceed to the bulk store.  While there we are allowed behind the counter as we are making a big purchase.  Glen somehow disappears and Billy only knows so much Swahili.  We have to perform charades to explain what we want.  We get it done and get back in the car to head to get the box lunches.  Billy knows a short cut so we make a turn into construction. Driving along, there is a track hoe on the right side of the road with the bucket working in the ditch on the left hand side of the road.
 The cars are all proceeding underneath the crane and we do as well.  Next we come to a closed road with cation tape. We pull directly up to it and roll down the window.  2000 shillings to the flagman gets us in.
The man lifts up the tape and we drive underneath.  Once through the construction, Glen is low on gas.  We stop at a station to find out that they are out of gas.  Moving on, we stop and get the box lunches.  However, Billy is also thirsty so he and I (Mike) run over to the store.  We quickly grab drinks but Billy also sees a French Press coffee machine he needs.  We take a few minutes to buy that and I get some tea to take home.  Back on the road we stop at another gas station. However, we cannot get gas there because they cant get a receipt unless we swing back by later to get it.  The next station has gas and we get it there.  Moving on to the mission site we pull into a school, proceed through it to a large iron gate. Billy hops out and knocks on the door.  I ask Glen what he is doing and he says he had called ahead at the bulk store to his relative who deals SIM cards and Billy is just grabbing it. After that we arrive at the Mission site and Bob Wallace asks where we have been.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Soccer in the sun at the foot of Meru

First off... Africa is amazing.  The sights, smells and people have been incredible.  The hospitality shown to our team has been on one hand comforting and on the other hand humbling.

So.... today just after lunch about 3pm (hey, we're on Africa time), Mike R., Kim C, Cheri W, Deanna C, and Billy D, and Prosper and I took the kids to the soccer field as all the others finished the wood siding on the church.  The kids were so excited.  First, Prosper gathered the kids and they sang some praise songs. Then, Kim lead a terrific devotion (as Prosper translated) on how she and her on daughter fell in love with Jesus. It was a special time.  I loved hearing the kids sing and watching them listen to Kim. 

After the devotion, Prosper divided the kids into four "teams".  Mike and I organized a soccer relay game for them.  It was such a joy to see them playing.  We then had them play a game.  Mike took the small kids (thanks Mike!) and I took the big kids.  It was organized chaos as it can be with kids and soccer and them not understanding.  Prosper is such a blessing! Without Prosper it would have been complete chaos.

On the way back home, we had a clear view of Mt. Meru.  It was a spectacular view of the mountain and it was amazing!  A great way to end a day in the Lord's service. 

Moshono day 2

Kim teaching the children the story of Easter and Christmas.  Church at Moshono.

The creative toys the children who have nothing come up with.  This little one has been a blessing to us as he is always around with a smile.

Making due with the raw materials available.  We put siding on Prospers church.  Yes that is Mary Pat hammering the siding on.  We were able to do two sides of the church today.  The women painted alot of fingernails, gave whistles, buttons, and bubbles away.  The kids were so happy when they learned how to catch a bubble on the bubble wand.

Side of Church.  Almost done!

Our main construction crew; Arron, Mike, Vincent, Will, Larry

While the guys were working on the siding, Kim and Mary Pat went into the home of a local woman and her daughter, to install a water filtration system.  There was an  infant there with pink eye which really made me sad.  Something so simple to cure in the States, the Africans must live with.  The weather has held up for us with no rain.  THe community has come to meet us and are getting used to seeing and interacting with the team.  We eat boxed lunches each  day and really enjoy them.  The food has been excellent.  Nothing like last trip, have not had any rice and beans, however the church we are working on does not have a bathroom so maybe that's a good thing.   Everyday we spend here is such a blessing to each team member.  Keep us all in your prayers as there is defiantly a spiritual warfare going on over here.  Sending love home.

Mary Pat

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Experiencing Moshono

On Wednesday, after prosper gave us a tour of the Moshono church and its future expansion plans,   I believe I was most impacted by our prayer walk.  We stopped at a home where Felista lives, who is in discipleship with prosper and several other ladies.   Besides the obvious poverty, her immediate family and friends are dealing with accusations of witchcraft, prostitution for provision and alcoholism.  We were able to share with them some scripture, some stories of how God has worked in our lives personally, and we were able to pray with them.  Jennifer has asked me to come to her home and I hope to have that opportunity on Friday.  
Thursday at prospers home, after meeting his family, friends and tenants, we were able to love on those women and children.  Additionally we were able to witness the anticipation, installation, training, Skepticism and gained confidence in the water filtration system.  Notice the before and after picture of the water bottles...Amazing! Billy was so beautifully able to convey how Jesus is like our filter cleansing us from all our sin and giving us a clean life.  

What a privilege it is to share in knowing more of God's children and learning of their joys and struggles.  To God be the glory!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Breakfast in Arusha!

We had a good night's sleep and are ready to tackle the day. Today is supply day. After breakfast, we head out to evaluate the sites and purchase the supplies necessary for vegetable bag gardens, water filtration, and construction. As fairly normal, the construction project has changed in that we've found the poles supporting the roof have been eaten by termites below the ground. So instead of siding the building, we'll be replacing supporting poles. Our hope will be to still side, but we'll just have to see. Thanks for your prayers. We can feel them!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

We are in Arusha!!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that we are safely in Africa!  Our flight was non-stop from Washington DC to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  It cut off several hours from our last trip to Arusha!  Even with that shortened trip, we are VERY tired of sitting on an airplane.  It is evening and we just completed our dinner.  We are headed to our devotions and debrief time...and then to bed!  Will try to blog more tomorrow and hopefully, post some pictures!  Thanks for the prayers, please continue to pray for us!  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Headed out!

It is a surreal feeling!  We have spent the last five years praying for a second CCC trip!  Today as we stood on the stage for prayers, we realize we are READY!  God has put together a great team who all share a passion for the lost.  We hope to install fresh water filtering systems, bag gardens in several homes and walls on the Moshono church.  We are excited to play soccer with the local children...but our main priority will be to establish relationships with the people, showing them Jesus as we work and play!

Today, we will meet with our families for dinner and enjoy their company for a couple of hours, tend to some final details and load up the bus at 3am!  Please pray for our families that we leave at home...especially on Father's day!

Please keep us in your daily prayers.  There are always surprises on a trip like this, in spite all of our plans and preparations.  Pray that God will use each of us for his purpose!

We won't land in Arusha until 5am (US Eastern time) on Tuesday morning, so we will try to blog on Tuesday after we get settled...assuming there is power!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

CCC in Arusha - Round Two

It has taken five years, but Connect Christian Church is headed back to Arusha, TZ. We have four returning travelers and we are excited to introduce the other eight members of our team to the incredible people of Arusha!

We have been studying, saving, preparing, collecting and finally...we are PACKING! Our team leaves VERY early June 17th for AFRICA!  It is a long flight and we will arrive mid-day Tuesday, June 18th.  Please lift all of our final preparations up in prayer.  There are always some last minute items that seem to add stress!

Our expected projects include:

  • Teaching about clean water and installing water filters in the Moshono and Mbguni churches, as well as some homes.  
  • Creating bag gardens for fresh vegetables
  • Siding the Moshono Christian Church (currently has blue plastic tarps)
  • Organizing soccer games/camp for the local children
  • Bible Teaching and Leadership training
  • Creating relationships to show them Jesus!!
Most of our group will return on June 30th, but five of our guys will stay an extra week to climb Kilimanjaro.  Please lift them up in your prayers for a safe, successful climb!!

Stop back!  We will try to keep your posted of our trip along the way.