A Recap from our Tanzania Short Term Mission Team

Jambo from Kigoma, Tanzania. There is so much to tell about our trip thus far. Lowell and Claudia Wertz, and Joy in the Harvest ministry continues to be great stewards of all they are given. The ministry helps so many people physically and spiritually, it is hard to describe it all, but I am going to try. Our group (Bob Crosby, Jeanette Abrams, Kathy Abraham, Anand Abraham and myself -Steve Moga) have been involved in a number of ways since our arrival here on Saturday, July 12th. First off, we have helped serve food to about 300 streets kids, widows and elderly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon (3pm here, 7am Chicago time) at Joy in the Harvest's Kimberly House pavilion. For many of the people, these are their only meals of the week. Each person gets a hot plate full of rice, beans and a banana, along with a cup of fresh water. There is always some singing, prayers and plenty of smiles. Lives are truly being changed. Twice (July 15th & July 19th) we have attended gatherings of a Widow's Group which was established by Joy in the Harvest's African Director, Mwenge. Both Kathy and Jeanette have shared their testimony with the ladies from Kigoma and Ujiji. The warm welcome our crew received each time was beyond humbling. We sang with them, prayed for them, and gave each a small gift of soap and rice to help them in their daily chores as the "untraditional" leaders of their families. We visited the nearby Destitute Camp, which Joy in the Harvest has recently been referring to as Camp Victory. About 50 people who are either blind, missing limbs or have leprosy live in a few sparse buildings located behind some warehouses next to the railroad tracks. In a society that relies so much on manual labor, those who cannot physically function, truly are the poorest of the poor. We each shared God's word with them and toured their compound. They were so grateful to us for just spending some time with them. We also have attended church services the last two Sunday's in the area. On the 13th we went to the UMC of Mwanga, the very first Methodist church in all of Tanzania which Mwenge's father established in the early 1990's. This past Sunday we went to the UMC of Kalalangabo which was built with the help of Joy in the Harvest. The church sits on top of a hill overlooking the fishing village of Kalalangabo. Each of us shared a little something with the congregation and Bob led a lively and entertaining version of "Deep and Wide." The Community Center that Wheatland Salem Church made possible is an impressive facility, and much bigger and better than any of us envisioned. We have enjoyed a Youth service and a Bible Study among all the missionaries from the area, in the Community Center's banquet room. There is a small library at one end, and Joy in the Harvest's recording studio and future radio station, Radio Joy, is on the second floor. The first week we were here, a group from Glenns Valley UMC near Indianapolis was helping make the first recordings ever in the studio as part of the inaugural Joy Choir Competition. A dozen area church choirs all were professionally recorded (many for the first time ever) for a future music CD and broadcast on Radio Joy. The talent was off the charts and we all enjoyed the praise and worship. Unfortunately the license for Radio Joy has still not been officially approved by the government, but preparations are in full swing. We have all been helping sort, categorize, and clean hundreds of Christian music CD's that have been donated to Joy in the Harvest. Jeanette and Kathy have been creating playlists, while Bob, Anand and I have been in charge of quality control (sort of). We have also been "ripping" the CD's, taking the music off the discs and capturing it digitally for the station's music library. In addition, with Kathy's guidance, we have been working with 15 to 20 Joy staff members as part of English classes from 9 to 11am. The more English the workers know, the more possibilities for advancement they have. They have been an eager group and thankful for the increased knowledge and skills. Bob has been having a tremendous time with an "advanced" group of about six guys, teaching them more technical words. Bob brought along a microscope and the crew has enjoyed analyzing all sorts of things. Anand has worked with several of the people in Joy's Computer School, and even helped diagnose and fix a few computers that were not running smoothly. Before our departure, Wheatland Salem youth helped put together 500 Fishing Kits (an idea which Paula Traviolia has done previously here in Tanzania). The kits included some hooks, some bobbers, some sinkers, about 100 feet of fishing line, and a simple trifold pamphlet essentially describing how Jesus loved fisherman. On Sunday afternoon (the 20th) we distributed the kits to several remote fishing villages along Lake Tanganyika. It was amazing how young and old dove into the water to retrieve the kits that were tossed out to them. As they have in the past (2004 & 2009), Lowell says their impact will reverberate up and down the lake for months. Some of the things we have seen are the Livingstone Monument in Ujiji, site of where Stanley found Livingstone supposedly uttering the famous line "Dr. Livingstone, I presume." This monument to the great Christian missionary from so long ago is surrounded by a mostly Muslim community, yet he is still revered and respected for his stance against slavery nearly 150 years ago. Nearby is the Trail of Tears, a gauntlet of massive mango trees that goes for miles and marks the path where captured slaves were marched from Ujiji (the collection point along Lake Tanganyika) across Tanzania to Bagamoyo, and then on to Zanzibar where the slave market for Asia and the Middle East was. Legend proclaims that the trees are the result of slaves spitting out the seeds from mangoes as they were forced across the country in chains. We have also visited the site on the hill overlooking Kigoma where Joy in the Harvest's radio tower will eventually stand. Radio Joy will have the capability to broadcast to approximately 1.6 million people in the surrounding area of Kigoma, north and south on Lake Tanganyika and inland as well. We have seen a few of God's great creations and the beautiful, hilly scenery of western Tanzania. Yesterday (July 22) we ventured 13 miles north up Lake Tanganyika and "enjoyed" a strenuous day of hiking at Gombe Stream National Park, the place where Jane Goodall did all her chimpanzee research. The rangers told us Jane was here just last week (she travels and speaks world wide 300 days a year) and is staying somewhere in Kigoma right now. During their trek Jeanette and Anand saw some chimps, one of the few remaining groups of wild chimpanzees left in the world. With our remaining days here we will be continuing to assist with English lessons, the radio projects, and even possibly recording some interviews and station I.D.'s for future use. Mwenge has also arranged for us to visit one of the last remaining refugee camps in Tanzania, consisting of refugees from the Congo civil war. Again we will be sharing the word with them, taking some bibles for distribution, and offering fellowship with other Christians half a world away. On behalf of our crew, asante sana na kwa heri (thank you very much and good bye)