Archive for June 2010

From Holy Cross to Ikengeza

June 28, 2010


The Orphanage in Iringa

June 27, 2010

6-26-10 / John: Yesterday we left Ruaha for Iringa, where we toured an orphanage sponsored by Bega Kwa Bega. All of the children there attend school in the community and return to the orphanage for an evening meal and a place to stay. Mama Chileo, the manager of the orphanage, says there are 18 kids in all, plus several staff who specialize in social work and counseling. They take children form 5-15 years of age. The government limits the age to 15 due to riots that have occurred in some orphanages involving older children. So, because of the new laws, they have some older children here, but cannot officially document them.

AIDS is the biggest problem, leaving many kids orphaned, though it may also be due to troubles at home, or having too many children in the first place. Girls suffer more than the boys, as they are often take into homes as baby sitters, then beaten, abused or sold into the sex industry. It is very hard to document due to the secrecy surrounding such children. The social workers have to get to know the people in their community and be ready to provide counseling once the kids are enrolled in the orphanage. Adoption is seldom chosen as an option for local families who already take care of their own children. Some Americans have sought to adopt, but find it very difficult and a long process.

The children sang for us in the main hall and we danced with them and played ball. Good things are happing here. With the right funding and buildings they could house up to three times as many children (60) and provide a place of hope for future generations. We prayed God’s blessing on them and thanked them for their hospitality.

Ruaha National Park

June 27, 2010

6-23-10 / Roxanne’s birthday! After breakfasting at the Lutheran Center in Iringa we took off for Ruaha National Park for our safari adventures. We did celebrate Roxanne’s birthday and sang happy birthday with hostess streusel and a candle. Our ride here was on dirt roads and very bumpy! One can never journal on the bus! Impossible to write legibly.

As we drove into the main park area, we did begin to see some animals. We saw elephants and zebras, kudus, giraffes… and that was even before the main drive on the safari! We were taken to our bandas (looks like a hut on the outside, and had a huge tent inside) with a veranda as a patio. Inside the hut was your sleeping bed, table lamps and a desk. Attached to the sleeping room was another room where the shower and a western-style toilet was (very plush!).
We had a full lunch as our hosts explained how the next two days would unfold. We then took our first safari drive. We climbed into an open sided jeep with seats for all, plus our driver and tour guide who was very knowledgeable. He has all information about all the animals and living creatures, and plants and trees. We have seen many of the following… elephants, zebras, baboons, giraffes, kudus, impalas and lions.

Our drive was for 2 hours. It began after the daily “tea & cake” time at 4pm, when it is typically cooler. At 6:30 we came back – all very wide-eyed from all we saw! And had a bit of time before campfire and dinner.

The camp directors said that breakfast & lunch are served in the main dining hall but dinner is in a surprise place. Once it was dinnertime someone escorted us in the dark to middle of the dry riverbed. During the dry season the camp puts a table in the middle of the riverbed and is set very decoratively. It’s surrounded by lots of candles and kerosene lamps.

Visiting Makombako

June 27, 2010

6-22-10 / Today we went to Makombako. This is where Sarah taught when she was in the Peace Corps. She was very amazed to see all the new building that had taken place since she was there. They went from 100 to 400 students. They have built many new dorms for these students. Also, more classrooms including a science and biology room. There is a new administration building that has individual offices instead of the one large office they had for everyone. There were two people who had known Sarah when she taught there. They were very surprised to see her today, as she had written to them and said she would be there ion the 23rd. They still have the house she lived in. No one is living in it on a permanent basis. They still call it “Sarah’s House.” They were telling some of the others who knew that it was called ‘Sarah’s House’ but then they said, “This is Sarah.” It was a very special “Homecoming” for Sarah, and we were all glad to share with her.

Tumaini University

June 27, 2010

6-21-10 / Nathan: My B-day!!!! We did our laundry in the morning, ate breakfast and went to the internet café. After that we had lunch and then we went to a tour of a college. After that came back and hung out until dinner. We went out for dinner and then we came back and hung out until it was time to go to bed.

John: Today we toured Tumaini University, the first private college built in Tanzania, with the help of Lutherans in the St. Paul Area Synod. In 1963 there were 200,000 Lutherans in Tanzania. That number today is around 4 ½ million! They have seen a 10% growth per year consistently over the past decade.

Tumaini began with a few courses in which to major: journalism, law, business and seminary training. This had spread to include majors in cultural anthropology, physics, biology and chemistry. A new science center is scheduled to open next year.

Ironically, though the college was started by Lutherans, very few students are going into theological training. There is a great shortage of pastors in Tanzania. The pay is very low (less than teachers) so it is hard to convince young people to pursue a career in ministry. The theology department was almost shut down a couple of years ago. Due to generous donation from the St. Paul Synod to help fund scholarships for seminarians, the seminary has been spared from being eliminated from the program.

The per capita income for Tanzanian’s is $535. This has doubled since 1987. In 1999, Tanzania was the 5th poorest country in the world. Today it is the 28th poorest. Increasing the enrollment in secondary school is good for everyone. You send a kid to college and they may not get a job in their field right away, but they do find work.

We can help by providing scholarships for theology students, keeping the university in our prayers, and by participating in the pastor-teacher program. This is an extended period of teaching by which a pastor from the states volunteers to live in Iringa for the summer and teaches in a field of their choice. Airfare, housing and a car are provided by the college. Meals and living expenses are provided by the home congregation. I was asked to consider participating in the program. My brother Dale, who is a pastor in Harris, MN, is planning to be a pastor-teacher at Tumaini in 2012. It sounds like a wonderful way to support the education of young minds for a brighter future for all Tanzanians!

Back from Safari – Update on Ikengeza

June 25, 2010

Well, we’re just getting back from safari… having seen many animals and exotic sights. More to come on that… until then, here is an update on Ikengeza…
6-21-10 / John: Just to add to a bit of what Sarah has already told you about our visit to Ikengeza… The preaching points we visited are listed below, along with their respective evangelists. Some are within a few city blocks of Ikengeza, while others (like the Masai village) are a few miles away. Evangelists are licensed to preach and conduct funerals, but are not allowed to officiate at weddings or preside at holy communion.
1. Ikengeza. Anania Kadege is the pastor. He oversees all preaching points.
2. Mgiha (Masai village). Rhoda Mbembati is the evangelist.
3. Myowela. Idan Mblibila is the evangelist. They gave us a chicken.
4. Chimdindi. Christopher Mbilinyi is the evangelist. They gave us Masai crafts and a goat.
5. Mseke. Daniel Nziku is the evangelist. They gave us food to eat and bottles of pop.
6. Miyomboni. SimonMsibwa is the evangelist. They gave us a chicken.
7. Mawindi (did not visit, due to road closure).

Our host pastors were Anania Kadege (pastor of Ikengeza parish), Huruma Bimbiga (pastor at the Lutheran Cathedral in Iringa and also our translator), Ombeni Ulime (head of the Theological Education by Extension Dept.) and Donald Kiwanga (pastor of the North District, of which Ikengeza is a part of).

Now for a bit of Swahili: The way to say “Holy Cross Church” in Kiswahili is Kanisa la Msalaba Mtakatifu Minnesota, Americani. Everywhere we go we see these birds that look like a crow wearing a tuxedo. In Swahili they are called kunguru. When we visited the Masai village at Mgiha I was a stung by a swarm of wasps. We had come upon an abandoned Anglican church, so I wanted to take a picture inside. Needless to say, there were still a few members worshipping there (the wasp family!). I was stung twice and screamed like a baby (I’m sure our new friends, the stoic Masai warriors, were wondering about this guy). Our guide kept saying, “pore sore,” which means “I’m very sorry.” So, I thought the word for wasp was pore sore. It’s really “nyu ki.”

Receiving gifts: At Chimdindi, we received several Masai gifts including a warrior’s club, which is called a kirungu. There was also jewelry, a beaded pastor’s cross, a decorative canteen, a men’s bracelet and an expensive beaded bowl for holy communion. We also received from Ikengeza baskets, wood carvings, many live animals and baskets of eggs. We donated the animals to the parsonage, since they would never clear customs! In the village on the last day we were presented with fabric to be worn around the waist or as a sash. They are bright yellow cangas, with a blessing in Swahili on them. I was presented with a dark blue one with a giraffe print and no words, so it is called a kitange. This is a status symbol for leaders as the giraffe (twiga) is the national symbol of Tanzania.

Needs of the Ikengeza Parish: At closing worship, Pastor Anainia presented us with a formal letter showing their gratitude and outlining their goals for the future: ongoing building needs, famine relief, water program, sponsoring more students, and a motorcycle to get around to the remote preaching points. A motorcycle for the most remote preaching point in the Masai village will cost $1,600,000 Tanzania Shillings, which amounts to about…$1,142 USD.

This was a wonderful way build on our relationship beyond the sending of funds to actually meet our sister congregation and its people. They were so welcoming and glad to see us. Our hearts overflowed with joy at the love they showed us. The Body of Christ does indeed have broad shoulders! They stretch across the sea as we are in ministry bega kwa bega (shoulder to shoulder).

Our Visit to Ikengeza Parish

June 21, 2010

6-20-10 / John: Sorry for no pictures yet… sloooowwwwww internet 😦 ..lots of videos too… but that’ll have to wait. Read on and use your imagination! Blessings to you all back home!


Sarah: Sunday, Iringa, Tanzania. Yesterday morning we left Iringa to visit Ikengeza, the sister congregation to Holy Cross and Beaver Lake. Ikengeza is one of seven preaching points.

Saturday morning we picked up two pastors, Huruma and Donald. Huruma was our translator and Donald works at the district level, and Ikengeza is one of the parishes in his area.

The drive was a little over an hour, and of course, it was on bumpy roads. The last km or so we followed the members of Ikengeza that were singing, dancing and waving branches to greet us and lead our bus to the church. We got our first look at Ikengeza. It had a tin roof, cement floor, benches for pews, an altar and a pulpit. Streamers and decorations were out all over.

After that we went to the pastor’s house, which had all the rooms we were staying in. They served us a tea break (it was already after noon) because lunch was later. Then we were off to see the preaching points.

The first one we headed for was for the Masai tribe. This was farther out, and we got the bus stuck crossing the dry riverbed. The men spent awhile getting it out of the sand (members of the parish rode with us), while the women played ball with some Masai kids that were walking by. Once the bus was out, the road finally stopped (too many trees), so we walked the rest of the way.

The “church” itself was just branches making up the walls and ceiling. The benches in the church were also just small branches off the ground. As at all the churches, we were welcomed with songs. Then we introduced ourselves, said a few words, and left. We also got stuck in the riverbed again leaving, but for not as long.

We went to two more churches, both in various stages of construction. One had a nice floor from the money Holy Cross sent, but wanted to plaster the walls. The other was close to putting down a cement floor. We saw this church Sunday morning. At both places, we were greeted with songs, waving branches, brought into the church for introductions and then went back out. All for the preaching points had evangelists, so we met each of them as we went.

The fourth church had a lot of people, and it seemed larger than Ikengeza. We had the same procession, but we were taken to an area that was setup for eating. So, we had our lunch (around 6 pm). Then we went inside the church, but since it was getting dark and we have no lights, we went back out for the introductions.

At all the churches, we were given gifts. We received a couple of chickens, eggs, and at the big church we received baskets, woodcarvings, and Masai jewelry.

After seeing the three churches, we went back to Ikengeza to our host’s house, and then we had supper (around 9 pm). We got to see a beautiful starry sky as we brushed our teeth outside. Then it was bed.

Sunday morning we had breakfast with chapori (a thick crepe). Then we went to see the 4th preaching point (the one that needed the floor). We also saw a primary school (it has 5 teachers and 600 students), and the well. After that we went back to Ikengeza for church.

The church service followed a liturgy. Pastor John gave the sermon. Our group sang some songs. Then we presented three suitcases of gifts. We showed the cross that was made, the water filter pumps, gave the flashlights to the evangelists, and showed some of the other gifts to the people. Our group received more gifts (somewhere we were given a goat and a chicken, but we couldn’t bring that back). The whole service was about 3 hours long.

After church was lunch, then we packed up to head back. We saw the fifth preaching point on the way out. The church didn’t have its own building, it just used an old milling machine room. After all the greetings, it was back on the road and to Iringa.