It is fun to see a write up from someone who is experiencing a mission trip to Tanzania for the first time. Thank you Jane.
By:Jane Mayden, Immanuel Lutheran-Lockwood, Missouri
Asante Sana (thank you very much) to all who supported us on our mission trip to the shores of Lake Victoria in Tanzania this year! Robin Eggerman, Chris Eggerman and Jane Mayden from Immanuel Lutheran-Lockwood, Missouri along with Bob and Susie Allen from Prince of Peace in White House, TN and Sharon Hyde from Christ the King-Memphis, Tennessee arrived in Shinyanga, Tanzania on Saturday, May 28, 2022. This was after 3 days of travel on 4 different flights and 1 bus ride on the new KKKT air-conditioned bus. KKKT is the acronym of the Lutheran Church of Tanzania. We would be working with the Bishop Emmanuel Makala, Assistant to the Bishop Pastor Yohana Nzelu and a group of Pastors from the SELVD (Southeast of Lake Victoria District) of KKKT. The other four members of our team from Memphis, Mike and Cindy Jurgensen, Jake Behnke and Jennifer Whitely had flight delays and joined us Monday. I will never forget the joy I experienced. Being there to share the story of Jesus, the story of love-this joy is hard to describe. Here you will read a short version of our time around Shinyanga and the Busega District in Western Tanzania. An area is still an original world that is true to nature with an expression of a unique African culture. The love of family is evident by smiling children playing happily with simple balls of twine, women who take pride in their Boma (house yard) by sweeping the dirt into intricate patterns and the men working the harvest fields of rice, sunflowers, corn and cotton and herding their Brahma cattle.
“Jambo” and “Karibuni” (hello and welcome) ring out with song from the chapel in Mwadui early Sunday morning as we arrive at the gated community surrounded by a diamond mine near Shinyanga. We meet the Pastors who will be traveling with us to Nyashimo, the village where we will stay for the next week. Pastor George is the district pastor from Lamadi and oversees the area that includes Nyashimo; Pastor Damiano Makala leads the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Nyashimo and oversees the three sub churches we will be serving; Pastor Mathias Masele, Treasurer of the SELVD, Pastor Aaron Nchambi from nearby Tree of Life church, Pastor Patrick and Pastor Antidius along with the Bishop Makala and Pastor Yohana and their beautiful wives, both named Lilian.
After the service, we take a tour of the Mwadui School where a new albino orphanage being built and has partially opened with 15 orphans in residence. Here also is the newly built Mercy Medical Clinic dispensary that the International LWML is assisting with a $68,000 grant this biennium. This was especially interesting to me, and they are hoping to have a Lutheran Medical Missionary Team serve here intermittently to train staff. They will need our prayers and assistance in establishing protocols and acquiring additional medical equipment to allow them to serve the school, orphanage and surrounding villages as an outreach.
After lunch, we presented half of our sanitary bags to Grace, the girl’s headmaster at the Mwadui School. Many volunteers made the contents of the bags from our local Lockwood Immanuel Lutheran LWML, church members and the community around Lockwood who came together for sewing, purchasing items with Thrivent Action Plans and donating time for sewing and compiling the bags. Then we headed to the Deaconess House where we presented Deaconess Mathilda with the other half of our sanitary bags. The deaconess house is where older albino teenage girls learn the skill of sewing as a way to support themselves. Both Grace and Mathilda were very appreciative to receive these bags and plan to teach the girls how to sew the sanitary supplies for extra income.
It was off to Nyashimo and the shores of Lake Victoria. For the next 4 hours, our team traveled on the new KKKT bus and entertained by the excitement of the Pastors and the (scratchy) radio announcers with a soccer game between The Yunga’s (Young Africans) and the Simba’s! I also enjoyed the scenery of rural Tanzania and the busy dirt road along which people of all ages walked while leading cattle, sheep and goats. That evening we were welcomed at Ebenezer Church with singing by the choir and a wonderful African meal. I fell in love with the Samosa’s, triangles of fried dough filled with meat. We unpacked at the Sandmark Hotel, a lovely resort on the shores of Lake Victoria. This would be our home for the next week where we would enjoy the company of the friendly staff and outdoor meals of fresh tilapia, tender beef, rice, sautéed veggies and fruit and African Coffee while watching the sun rise and set over Lake Victoria.
Monday, May 30-We arrived at the little village of Gininiga, which was to be our destination for the next 3 days. Gininiga is a very rural area, which speaks Sukuma instead of Swahili and where they follow the practice of witch doctors and charms to help in healing illnesses. This is most often skin issues due to the lack of clean water and hygiene. Teaching the truth, that God alone heals instead of superstition and trusting through medical care to reach this population shows how important it is to have God-fearing servants of faith. Here is the back story of why our team was sent here this year-a young nurse midwife/nurse practitioner named Dr Ven arrived at the hospital in Nyashimo and was sent out to do home visits (like our Home Health) to dress wounds and care for the people around Gininiga, about 16 miles from Nyashimo. Those 16 miles take about 40 minutes to travel by bus or pikipiki (motorcycle). Dr Ven was raised a strong Lutheran with an evangelist training near Mwanza and when he began to get to know the area, he saw a need for outreach. He helped to lead Lutheran services starting with two families and now about twenty people meet under an Acacia Tree near town. Pastor Damiano at Ebenezer supervises it as one of his sub churches. They have just received funding for a new evangelist to serve this little congregation and therefore it was appropriate for our mission team to go to this area during this summer of 2022.
The night before we arrived at the village the SELVD diocese cinema team, Sinema Leo, which means cinema now, set up a wide screen from the back of their Land Cruiser and showed the Jesus movie to ready the village for our coming. The movie was shown from an old DVD and by the 4th day our mission team banded together and donated money to present the worker in charge,Ruben Lazi ,with a new laptop to allow him to download and show the movies more easily. Because the village had seen the Jesus movie and heard from Sinema Leo that we were coming, villagers met us that Monday morning as soon as we stepped off the bus! Immediately we were baptizing and handing out crosses, crocheted hats and baseball caps that, so many of you made or donated! The hats are such a big hit and we thank everyone for the supply!
Then we met together for prayer and divided into teams. Each team includes a Pastor, two or three local members of the church acting as scribes to take down the names of those we baptized for follow up. It was important to have those who knew the area and families around where we were going as a part of our own mission team. We then head out walking, usually traversing about 6 miles a day, from 9 am until 3 pm.
What beautiful countryside we saw each day. It was harvest time and the crops look well-tended. Ninety nine percent of the people around Gininiga walk everywhere, live in small huts with thatched roofs and dirt floors and have lovely shambas (gardens). We did see a tractor here and there, a couple of Toyota Land Cruisers and a handful of pikipikis (motorcycles). We traveled down a cattle path; at every Boma we entered to be greeted by friendly faces, as the women and children scurry to set up plastic lawn chairs or wooden stools for us to sit on. We offered food, mostly bananas or fried potatoes. I did not want to be rude and refuse, so yes, it tasted good and no, I never got sick! I was also on the team with Pastor Damiano and Dr Ven and they let me know it would be safe! We handed out pepe (candy) and then we would offer to share the story of Jesus. They would want us to sit down and tell the wonderful “Good News” with our picture books. Pastor would translate and answer the questions and ask if they wanted to be baptized. By the end of three days, we had baptized over 700 men, women and children around Gininiga!
The last day Pastor Yohana, Bishop Makala, Pastor Damiano, Dr Ven and the evangelist Abuti took us to see the church under the Acacia Tree where they were having worship. Then we walked to a plot of land right outside of town to see a parcel of land they had found for sale for $1000. The Bishop and Pastor’s Yohana and Damiano thought they would have room to build a church building, parsonage and Sunday school room. When we ended our time in Gininiga, Chris, Robin and I thought we would have enough to give $500 toward this land. The couple from Nashville, Bob and Susie Allen, wanted to match our $500 and we were able to present to the Pastor’s our plan. When I asked if the little congregation had a name, I suggested naming it, Immanuel-Gininiga to allow Immanuel-Lockwood to have a sister church that to bless and grow! The Sunday after we were there, Dr Ven sent a picture of almost 200 people worshiping outside under the tree! On June 30, it they announced that the deed to the land had been purchased with the donations that you helped us raise, and the name of the little church under the Acacia Tree is now officially named Immanuel-Gininiga! To God Be The Glory!
After Gininiga, we spent 2 days in the little town of Nyamikoma. Here we were visiting “town” homes. There were many pikipikis and homes had electricity or solar power. Most had a satellite for TV and people were talking on cell phones. Children walked to school with uniforms on and some carried little “boom boxes”. The Muslim faith is strong here and by far the most we encountered. Sugar cane grows here and then sold in canes. We watched those fixing large fishing nets and fish drying in the yards. The town was right on the shores of Lake Victoria. The little church here named Ebenezer and has a building and an evangelist who serves about 100 people with a very active youth group. Here we baptized just over 500.
Our last day was spent serving Hope Lutheran Church in the town of Mwamachibiya above Lake Victoria, more mountainous and rural than Nyamikoma but not as rural as Gininiga. This little church is growing and has a wonderful youth dance and song group! After canvassing this area and baptizing ninety-nine more, we were able to do a little shopping at the open-air markets in Lamadi (after a flat tire and bus break down)! We also went to Pastor George’s church and school and met his wife and the women’s group there who presented us with small handmade purses.
Sunday morning, June 5, we spent at Ebenezer church in Nyashimo to celebrate God’s goodness to us over the last week. Chris baptized one more this morning for 1,356 souls. What a joyous service of singing and dancing by the choirs of Ebenezer! It was a blessing to see the members, young and old, dressed so lovely to honor God with their thankfulness. We were able to donate $500 from our fundraising to help toward the purchase of a pikipiki for Pastor Damiano. This will allow him to access his parishioners over the cattle paths between the three sub churches he tends. We also donated $500 to pay for 1 year of training for an evangelist at the Emmanuel Makala Training Center near Shinyanga where the headquarters of the diocese of the SELVD is located.
Monday morning, we said a sweet goodbye to all the Pastors who so dutifully watched over us, translated for us and helped us understand this unique culture and their thirst for the Living Word. The Holy Spirit is certainly working in Tanzania. We then started on the most memorable drive through the Serengeti, the Nguru Nguru and Tarangire National Parks. God’s creation is wondrous to see. The “tent camp” we stayed at in Tarangire founded by Lutheran missionaries and is still owned and run by the family. I will leave you with a few Swahili and Sukuma words that we heard quite often through the week:
Twendi-let’s go! abari zuri- good morning; zuri sana- very nice, very beautiful; choe- outside bathroom; kwaheri- goodbye; Shamba-farm;
Kivuli-shade (they say shadow); moja kwa moja- straight ahead; maji- water; habari yako- how are you? Mtoto- baby; Bibi- grandmother; Babu-grandfather; ngao yangu ni jina la Yesu- my shield is the name of Jesus, Amina- Amen.
Mtumikieni Bwana Kwa Furaha- Serve the Lord With Gladness!