I’m working on a talk that I’m giving this Sunday, December 4, at Shepherd of the Hills about my trip. I’ll be giving a short talk at both services (8:30 and 10:00). You are all invited.
I’m remembering all those survey’s that rank people’s fears that put public speaking up near the top. I’m wondering if that fear is more than my fear of going to Tanzania.
Both fall into the category of fear of the unknown and how I will react to it. Right now, I’d say I was more fearful of Tanzania. Although, I may feel differently on Sunday morning. Especially because I know that I will be following Pastor Renee giving her sermon. And while I might hope that she would give a sermon that would put people to sleep, I know that won’t happen.
There is a lot to be said of conquering your fears. I’m glad I decided to go to Tanzania despite my initial trepidations. I did get a chance to do some public speaking in Tanzania and even picked up a tip that I will use on Sunday. At most of the places we stopped at we had to introduce ourselves to the people who were gathered to meet us, I did this at least 7 times. In addition, I gave a longer address in Kidamali because they are our partner congregation. We were warmly welcomed wherever we went.
It was at Image Secondary School where I got a public speaking tip. When had all introduced ourselves the head of the school came over and put his arm around me. “We need to walk over here for a minute,” he said leading me away from the students we had just addressed.
Why me, what did I say? I was puzzled but I let him lead me. When we got behind everybody else and were facing away from them all he gave me the tip. It’s a good tip, one that I wish I had known before I stood up before everybody and spoke. He told me, “You need to zip up your pants.”
People have asked me about pictures. I’m going to post them here at some point. I can do a gallery or a slideshow. I need to experiment a little to see which works better for both computers and those using mobile devices. Should be soon. In the meantime, I hope you noticed the change in the picture with the titles. You should be able to see four different types of animals – giraffe, impala, warthog and zebra.
Travelling to a “developing” country can highlight many things that we are fortunate to have in our land of plenty. Things that we take for granted. Things I am thankful for this week with our holiday dedicated to giving thanks.
It’s easy to list things we have that aren’t as common in Tanzania. Clean water with the turn of a faucet. Electricity with the flip of a switch all day long. Toilets that flush. Paved roads.
There were other things too that weren’t as easy to notice. There is a certain level of automation that we expect that can surprise you when you realize that in Tanzania it’s manual. Like the time I walked by a field that was freshly tilled and didn’t think too much about it. But then, I realized it wasn’t like a tilled field here where someone would have used a tractor or a roto-tiller. This was from someone working with a hoe.
It is easy to think of our abundance and be grateful while thinking of the poor Tanzanians who have nothing. But that would be an oversimplification. The people I met have things they can be thankful for.
The people are friendly. Their default facial expression seems to be a smile. The people are generous. From people who, by our standards, have nothing we received gifts from each congregation we visited. Their churches are alive and growing. Just days after traveling by air for 24 hours followed by a 10-hour bus ride with an eight-hour time change I went to a church service that was close to 3 hours long and didn’t yawn once. They know the value of an education. They know people who didn’t have access to school, so they are appreciative when their children are able to attend school.
Maybe there are things that Tanzania has already developed that would be good for us to work on developing.
Something else I’m thankful for is you. I have been uplifted by your prayers for my journey and your support. Thank you readers. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
I was stressed. I don’t remember the bus ride that well.
After months of waiting for the trip to Tanzania, it happened. After months of wondering what it would be like in Tanzania and how I would react, here I was. After a long time with no visits from Shepherd of the Hills to our partner congregation in Kidamali, I was on the way there for Sunday worship.
What would it be like? Would they be upset with me for Shepherd’s long absence? What would it be like talking with the people of Kidamali? How would I do when I addressed the whole congregation? Questions and worries nagged at me.
Then we were there, our bus pulling into the driveway at the Pastor’s home. We all signed a guestbook and then were welcomed inside for a meal. After the meal, we went onto the Pastor’s porch where we were serenaded with beautiful music by the church choir while the Pastors all were putting on their vestments. We had 5 Pastors there. From Kidamali – John Kisoma, the Senior Pastor and Amidu Msungu, the Associate Pastor. From our group – Pastor Rich who would be preaching and Pastor Sarah who was our group leader. And from the Iringa Diocese Bega Kwa Bega office Pastor Msigwa (pronounced em-sig-wa) who was translating. After the Pastors had changed we processed up to the church building and service began.
As the guests, we all sat up at the very front of the church on the side. At one point, we all introduced ourselves. As the representative from their partner church I went first. I introduced myself and spoke about how Shepherd was excited to be reestablishing our relationship. The congregation all cheered. After the introductions, I read a letter from the Pastor and Governing Board of Shepherd of the Hills to the congregation. I would read one sentence, Pastor Msigwa would translate it and the congregation would cheer. After every sentence, they applauded. I was feeling welcome in Kidamali at this point.
Later in the service the Chair of their partnership committee, Clemence Kavindi gave a report about the partnership from Kidamali’s viewpoint. He spoke and Pastor Msigwa translated to me. I was amazed to hear that they had set aside two days a week for praying for us in Minnesota, that money that had been given from Shepherd members had helped 70 children with educational scholarships, and that they had said special prayers for Shepherd when they knew we were looking for a new pastor. I was moved almost to tears. When the report was finished the Chairperson turned to go sit back down, but I leaped up and went to him. I just had to hug him. And not just him, it was really meant for the whole congregation.
The whole service lasted almost 3 hours, but it didn’t feel long at all. I felt energized from the welcome I had received.
Afterwards we had a lunch again at the Pastor’s house. Clemence helped me to find the spot at the guest house where my daughter, Alicia, had stood to have her picture taken when she had visited in 2007. Tom Olsen from our group took a picture of me in the same spot.
Then we took a short trip to one of the parish’s preaching points. The way it works in Tanzania is that the main parish will have additional preaching points where services are held by an Evangelist each week. When a preaching point becomes large enough it can become a parish on its own. At the preaching point of Nyamihuu we were greeted by the church leaders singing a welcome song for us. (I’m not sure if I’ll get any buy-in when I tell the Shepherd Governing Board we should be singing welcomes to our visitors.)
Spending time seeing God at work in Tanzania made my worries fade and left me feeling that in Kidamali and in Tanzania I was karibu sana. (In Swahili karibu means welcome and sana means very much.)
I’ll have been back home two weeks on Wednesday this week. I’m feeling better, although there was a slight relapse of being ill. Staying up late for Game 7 of the World Series and then for the election results were probably not the best way to get over jet lag. I am sleeping better; I had been waking up at 4am every morning (noon Tanzanian time).
I’ve decided to go back to my usual schedule for blog updates. I’m planning on posting something every Tuesday as I had been doing. In theory that lets me write something over the weekend and then do a final edit on Tuesday before I post. In practice, I have sometimes been up late on Tuesday writing.
I’m sure that most of my posts will be about the trip to Tanzania for a while. By posting weekly I’ll be able to take some time for reflection. I’m looking forward to telling you about the many things we did.
We spent a night in Dar es Salaam after our flight landed. The next day we had breakfast accompanied with CNN’s debate analysis. The debate had just taken place in the middle of the night Tanzanian time, so our breakfast was only a few hours later.
That day we took a long bus ride to Iringa that ended up arriving after dark. It was an interesting ride with many new sights quickly passing by outside our bus windows. At one point after dark I saw a large group of people standing around a home or building. In the instant when I had a clear glimpse of what they were all looking at I saw a TV with what looked like the debate replaying. And then it was gone.
The next day, when we visited the Iringa Diocese offices, Secretary General Chavalla told us that we weren’t electing the President of the United States, but that we were electing the President of the World. Because whoever is elected their policies will have a worldwide impact. He talked a bit about Obama and mentioned that George W. Bush is remembered in Africa for his work in the fight against AIDS. Everyone in the group was struck by this. Coming from an American those words might have sounded arrogant, but coming from an African they carried more weight. Later in the trip we asked a Tanzanian pastor if he agreed that the President of the US is also the President of the World and he immediately said, “Yes, of course.”
Many times when we ate with people we were asked about the election. Most of the times the discussion started with a question about who we thought would win and then carried on from there. They are very interested in our election as it will impact their lives as well as ours.
My having the same name as Hillary’s Vice-Presidential candidate wasn’t a big deal. But my picture with Obama was always enjoyed. Even after I told people that it really wasn’t him, just a look-a-like, they would laugh and still look closely at the picture.
I am back at home. I arrived back from Tanzania on Wednesday afternoon. My daughter, Alicia picked me up at the airport and took me home.
Thank you for all your prayers for my journey, I appreciate them. The trip was an amazing experience and I will be writing about more in depth soon.
Unfortunately, I became sick on the last day in Tanzania. It started in the afternoon as a feeling of general indigestion that maybe a couple of antacids would clear up. By the time of our flight that left just before midnight, I was not in good shape, alternating between feeling chilled or overheated. While it was nice to be coming home it was not a pleasant experience.
I tried to stay up Wednesday and watch the World Series. I think I slept through most of it, waking up when the announcers got excited and to run for the bathroom and the end of the ninth inning. Maybe it was what I needed to get me back on track time wise, so I could go to bed and get a full night’s sleep. Still I took it easy on Thursday.
I’m still not feeling well. Last night I was calculating when it would be 3 days since I started feeling sick. It started around 2:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday in Dar es Salaam. So, I had to translate that to Twin Cities time and figure it out. I had some antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea that the doctor said I could start taking after 3 days which turned out to be 6:30 am Friday morning. I took one when I got up, hopefully it will knock out whatever bug has been bothering me.
If I had to get sick in on the trip that was probably the best time for it. It didn’t impact on any of our activities. (I’ll feel better about the silver lining when the cloud is gone and I am feeling better.)
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.