Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Report 8: Tanzania Part 1, February 14

On Monday, Bro. Peter, Michael and myself left for meetings in Tanzania. We took a taxi to the border. There we purchased visas for the steep cost of $100 per US citizen. We then hired another car in Tanzania to take us to Bro. Stephano's congregation.

Tanzania is quite a bit different from Kenya. The government is more socialistic. All property is owned by the government and there is a much more visible and stern police presence. The people are affected by this and tend to be more suspicious than open. The ones we personally spent time with however were very open and welcoming.

The terrain was a bit mountainous with huge boulders that reminded me of areas in the US. We drove along the border of the Serengeti and even passed the entrance of the National Park. the plains were dotted with picturesque, thorny acacia trees. We saw a few wildebeestes and babboons. The police will fine you if they see you taking pictures. They want people to pay to enter the parks for photos.

The drive took about 4 hours. I found myself nodding off at times. The schedule has been so full every day that it was starting to tell on us. Michael was having some difficulties too as a result. Sometimes at night he could not sleep well with his back bothering him and causing some jerking. We were thankful for the foam mattress, but you had to work to find a comfortable position with the wooden cross-supports poking into your back.

Michael had a very bad headache that had been progressing throughout the day. It made of us think of the trip almost exactly a year ago. Michael's illness had begun with a horrible headache that grew progressively worse. We prayed for the Lord to give Him a touch and rebuke the enemy that was trying to hinder the Gospel being brought to this area in Tanzania.

I noticed many rice paddies along the road. Some were in use, others dry. In Tanzania, rice is the staple food, not maize. The government owns the land, but if you are industrious you may work any plot you find untaken and cultivate it.

At last we arrived at the chapel. The congregation was assembled and conducting service. We were ushered into a small room in Bro. Stephano's home to rest and refresh ourselves. They asked Michael if he would have a message for us. He asked for five minutes before we rejoined the service.

There were about 50 ministers and gospel workers in attendance from 15 congregations. Many children and local women gathered under a tree just outside the tarpoulined area that the ministers sat beneath to listen in on the services. One woman would have a long stick and use it to keep the children in line.

The African saints greet their worship with joy and enthusiasm. There is often much clapping and foot stomping and sometimes even a simple footstep in group singing that helps keep time.

I was in for a new experience here in Tanzania. When we rejoined the service, there was a group playing loud music and dancing to the singing. I felt a foreign, religious spirit at work that made me very uncomfortable. It gave me a new perspective of missionary work and what it is to take the truth into places where there is direct opposition of the enemy and His spirits. This is a new work and most have never been exposed to Bible Donctrines.

Michael greeted the group and expressed his love to them. In his introduction he told them, "I did not come to Tanzania to be popular. I did not come to bring you a white man's words. What I say about something doesn't matter. What you say about something doesn't matter. I do not have a heaven to give to you. I preach to you Jesus Christ and I come to bring you God's Word. God's Word is the final authority on every thing that touches our lives. When we understand His Word it brings light and understanding and brings accountability."

He preached a short message entitled "What Road are you On?" The illustration was that if you are going toward Tanzania, you can't say that you are on the road to Mwanza (a town in the opposite direction). Many in the world are saying "I am going to Heaven", but they are on the road that leads to Hell.  After the message about 14 came forward to pray.

After service, we were taken back into the interior room and a meal was served. The beans and rice tasted very filling after crackers, beef jerky and bottled water in the taxi. A woman came into the room and bowed low before pouring warm water over our hands into a basin to wash. After the meal we were taken by taxi to the guest house where we would stay.

Interestingly enough, we were led to the very room Michael slept in last year that one long night when he was so ill. It was a strange feeling to be in the very spot where he was while I was at home thousands of miles away calling Michael Gellenbeck through the night for updates.

Curiously, when the matron saw me she returned and told us that we should stay in the guest rooms across the road because this area was used as a disco in the evenings and would not be suitable. Michael didn't know that they had placed him in a house of ill repute last year! We were thankful to have been moved because the loud beat and noise continued long into the night. The rooms had mosquitoes flying around in them so we sent to town for some mosquito spray and fogged both our and Bro. Peter's room.

This is a picture of our tent set up. This bed was much larger than the single mattress we had been using. The nice thing about this type of mosquito net is that when you get in and zip it closed you are secure from all manner of bugs that could get into your bed.

In the bathroom there was running water and this is the standard bathroom in places that have a public restroom. We also had a bare bulb in the room which was lit for a few hours in the evening when they would run the generator.

We were very weary and spent the evening preparing our hearts and minds for the meetings of the following day.

No comments:

Post a Comment