Sunday, April 22, 2012


We were headed to church in the village of Kitongo today when we had to take a detour.  Detours in the bush can be quite interesting. One is never sure where the "road" is going to take them - past gardens, cows, through ditches, or what. It could be a decent detour, or like on other trips we've taken it can be a maze of thinking we'll never arrive at our destination.

Today as we drove down paths in the middle of nowhere I thought about a different kind of detour we had to take in this village. The detour we had to take was dealing with the leader who had lied repeatedly. It was a difficult time of confronting the leader with his sin, and explaining to the congregation the need for him to step down for a period of time. In Tanzanian culture even pastors can just say sorry for their adultery and it is expected that he'll not only be forgiven, but will continue in his current ministry. The church was very young and didn't understand the needed actions. For months Bill gave extra attention to this church. He preached messages on what true forgiveness means, the consequences of sin, and how a leader is held to a higher standard. It was not an easy time for this leader, for the church, nor for us.

Just like a detour that can be like a maze that makes us question the outcome, so did this detour make us wonder what the end result would be. Would the leader repent and eventually be allowed to lead again? Would the church grasp the necessity of him stepping down?  Would this fledgling church survive such counter measures to their cultural ideas?

That was just over a year ago. The detour was long and windy, but I'm thrilled to report that this church is doing great! As we sat in the service with about 100 people present, we listened as this same leader - now  the pastor - as he led the service with a humble heart, and we rejoiced.  We rejoiced that this man submitted to the Lord and repented. We rejoiced that God is full of grace and is using this man again. We rejoiced that through this detour God reminded us again that He is faithful!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Resurrection Party

Not only did the Lord bless us with a fruitful Easter Sunday with our Tanzanian brothers and sisters in Christ, but we also enjoyed some time with our American brothers and sisters in Christ.  We hosted a resurrection party at our house which included 10 adults and 14 children. Here are some of the highlights...

Game time!  Abigail got online and chose some Minute-To-Win-It games and organized them to include all age groups. Adults and children alike had fun. Those playing, and those watching!

After the church food on the grounds (click here to read about it) we decided we needed some American food! The big hit was Lisa Newland's  chocolate fondue. 

Some WONDERFUL ladies from our sending church,  Central Baptist Church in Greeneville, TN  sent me some Easter candy for the missionary kids. They sent me  30 pounds of candy!  They also sent some Easter grass to put in each baggy. Such a great idea except one thing... not one of the MKs had a clue what it was! However, whether they grew up in America or Africa, they surely  knew what to do with all that candy!!!

A  big thanks  to all who sent the candy and helped to make this a special Easter for the MKs!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easter Series Part 3


We've planned. We've prepared. We've visited. Now the day is here!

Every Easter we have a combined church service for all our churches who are able to attend. It is always a big day with much excitement. This year was no exception!

The women gathered early on Thursday to begin the tedious task of cleaning the 385 pounds of rice to be cooked on Sunday. The men slaughtered the cow Sunday morning at 5:00AM. The women arrived at 6:00AM to begin cooking. They all worked hard to provide a special meal for a HUGE crowd of people.

Now doesn't that look yummy?! That's what the beef looks like after it's been cooked - stomach, cartilage, hoofs, eyes, and all!  At this point I should be honest and  say that we desperately miss potlucks back in America!

People started arriving from  the  villages of Fumagira, Mayoka, Kitongo, Nyamasale, and even Mwanza town. 

It is amazing how many people you can fit into the back of these trucks.

With six choirs, and the children from each of the churches planning to sing and quote Scripture, Pastor Pelegrino tried to keep things moving.

The church was full to capacity with children sitting in the isles to attempt to make room for the adults to sit. However, there were still adults standing in the back. There is no way to know for sure how many were there, but we estimate somewhere around 700. 

Pastor Petro preached a clear message of salvation and 13 people came forward to receive Christ.

After the four-hour service people gathered outside for the baptisms. Due to lack of water we tend to baptize twice a year. Once during the Christmas service, and once at Easter. Sixty-three people were baptized.

To end the day bowls and bowls of rice, beans, and meat were served up. People went away that day with hearts and bellies full!

To read Part 1 click here. To read Part 2 click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter Series Part 2


There was much work in preparation for our big, combined Easter service.  With plans for baptizing, the youth had to go to a watering hole about 1 1/2 miles away to collect water in jugs and bring it back to the church. It took several trips to fill up the tank.

One of the leaders, Ngamba, is building what will be a temporary cooking hut. The ladies will be cooking a whole cow, rice, and beans for a BIG crowd.

The children also got in on helping to prepare. Here they are bringing corn husks for making the walls of the cooking hut. 

The ladies also came and decorated the church for the special occasion. This section was for the pastors and their wives who came from the various six churches.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Series Part 1


Easter Sunday is a big day in our village churches. In preparation for the big day, Pastor Pelegrino and other leaders of our churches, decided to have an evangelistic crusade at the host village of Igekemaja. 

The leaders asked our teammate, Lisa Newland, to hold a children's crusade in the afternoons. Lisa and two other pastor's wives organized games and taught the children. Two children made a profession of faith!

In the evenings they showed The Jesus Film in the local tribal language of Kisukuma. People began arriving hours before the film was to show in order to get a seat. We estimate there were about 500+ people there every night! Pastor Pelegrino brought several videos, but the people kept asking for The Jesus Film. Pele would show about 10 minutes of the DVD and then preach for a time. He wanted to be sure they were thoroughly understanding the message. There were 58 people who made a profession of faith during the week of meetings!

The goal and desire of every missionary is to train nationals to do the work of the ministry. Well, that is exactly what they did! These leaders organized and led this meeting all on their own. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The gift of hearing

scuffling rocks...
phone ringing...
door shutting...

These are just a few of the things James got to hear for the first time. James' mother Pendo contracted measles when she was pregnant. They aren't sure, but think his hearing was possibly affected. Then after a severe ear infection, topped off with poor medical care, he became almost deaf in both ears. For years the family tried to get help for their son. James' dad, Constantine, was even given the equivalent of $150.00 to buy a hearing aid. Sadly, the money was taken by a local hospital doctor without them ever getting the promised hearing aid.

Pendo came to work for us a few years ago. Recently I was given a contact for  AIC-CURE Internaltional Children's Hospital of Kenya. This hospital is just down the road from our daughter's boarding school - Rift Valley Academy. We made arrangements with the hospital to bring James and his mother while we picked up Abigail for her end-term break. I couldn't wait to tell Pendo!

Kijabe, Kenya is about 11 hours from Mwanza, Tanzania. This was an exciting adventure for Pendo and James. Both had only traveled as far as Musoma - a three hour drive from Mwanza. It was neat seeing their reactions as we got further away from home, and into another country. We've driven this route many times, but seeing it through their eyes was like seeing it for the first time!

Once we arrived at CURE they tested James to see how much he can hear out of each ear. We were then told that he was a good candidate for a hearing aid. PRAISE THE LORD! The nurse brought in a solar-powered hearing aid and began fitting James. I'll never forget when she turned it on and began talking to him - his face lit up! (Notice his mom's joy in the mirror.)

The nurse was explaining that families in America donate hearing aids (approximately $250.00) so people like James can hear the Word of God, and I was in turn translating for Pendo. It was at that point that it really hit her and she began to cry. What a gift  to give someone - the ability not only to hear, but to hear God's Word!!! 

We are now back home in Tanzania and James is doing GREAT! He is talking up a storm and already doing better in school.  His world has opened up and that can't help but make him smile...