One day last February my daughter, Alicia, texted me and asked if I had any interest in going to Tanzania. I responded with a slightly less than enthusiastic, “Maybe” and “I’ll think about it.” I’ll admit my biggest trepidation was (and still is) the bathroom situation. Toilets in that part of the world aren’t the thrones we’re used to, but are squat toilets.
I was also feeling intrigued. Alicia had visited Tanzania on a trip when she was in high school. From the stories she returned with, I could tell the trip had had a big impact on her. The stories of the people in Tanzania were amazing. Alicia’s bus was hours late in arriving at one place, but the people there just patiently waited for their arrival. People who would give them chickens even though they had barely enough for themselves. People who, by our standards, have nothing yet they were happy and content. It is something I want to see. Especially coming from our culture where we’re constantly told that money and possessions equal happiness, to the point where 7% of people in a survey said they would kill a stranger for $10,000,000.
The trip is being put together by the St. Paul Area Synod of the ELCA where Alicia works. It is a mission trip, but we won’t really be doing any work. The people over there know that what we pay to get to there is roughly equivalent to what they would make in 10 years. So, they want to meet us and develop relationships. They can paint walls or build things anytime, but they will have only a limited time with us.
Churches in the St. Paul Synod have a history of relationships with Tanzania. Many are paired up in partnership with a specific congregation in Tanzania. My church, Shepherd of the Hills in Shoreview, has a relationship with the congregation in Kidamali. We will be visiting Kidamali along with several other locations around Iringa, Tanzania.
Unfortunately, Shepherd went through a rough patch in the past few years and the relationship wasn’t kept up. However, now we have a new pastor and there is an energy that’s been missing for some time. I believe one of the reasons this trip came up at this time was as part of God’s plan for Shepherd. As we move forward with the healing from the turmoil of the past we can restore a ministry that was dropped and shift our internal focus to also continue our process of becoming a part of God’s community.
I’m excited to be going on this trip. Unknowns for me are in store as I visit places that even Google Maps doesn’t know about. I’ll be blogging about the trip here. I hope you’ll join me on my journey.
7/19/2016 10:45:29 pm
Wow! Amazing. THey don't want you to pull weeds or paint walls? Very intriguing.
7/20/2016 08:19:12 am
Right, I'm used to the youth at Shepherd getting back from mission trips and hearing about how hard they all worked. But the focus of this trip is accompaniment.
7/26/2016 02:34:52 pm
Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts on so many touching subjects, Tim! It is fun to see pictures and hear stories of a younger you and hear stories about your wonderful Debbie... Like Amy Hahn, I wish I had known her better. What I did know a little bit about was her warmth and ready ability to pitch in on a project for our awesome Shepherd youth. I'm so glad you found her in this very wide world... And your life has continued to be well! I've enjoyed working with you at Shepherd, where you are active in many helpful ways. And isn't it exciting to see Andrew off to college that's going well! Alicia's work continues well and her happiness as you have welcomed Carlos into your family as her husband has been what a parent hopes for. The family that you and Debbie built together is thriving... Yay, God!
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