Saturday, April 10, 2010

Community Building in Zanzibar

Monday-Friday:This week I spent expanding my community out into Zanzibar island, which is a 2 hour ferry ride from Dar es Salaam. Most of the time it was rainy and slightly windy with the Indian Ocean a mass of waves-perfect weather for Marie and I as we are tired of the pounding sun day in and day out in Dar. We immensely enjoyed our holiday in Stone Town with our wanderings through the maze of stone alleyways filled with engraved wooden doors and curio shops. We ate in tiny cafes and at night in Forodhani Gardens, which is filled with row after row of vendors grilling all kinds of fresh seafood (shark, octopus, calamari, barracuda, tuna, king fish, etc), Indian naan bread, chepatti bread, and Zanzibar pizzas. We met new people each day-locals, Tanzanians, Indians, tourists, and a Canadian from McGill University studying abroad. Our conversations together are interesting as these people have unique stories to tell. Overall it was a unique island to visit, very eclectic as it is a trade port and people visit and work there from all around Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Community Building Continued

Monday-Friday: This week I have built community by celebrating each day leading up until Easter Sunday-resurrection day. Palm Sunday we celebrated Jesus' triumphal arrival into Jerusalem on, surprisingly enough, a donkey. Jesus entered gently like a lamb to recapture his people rather than a battle horse to recapture the conquered city. A friend and I discussed how Jesus will return again, but this time as a roaring lion ready to fight!

Each day since Sunday we've been tracing Jesus last week on earth and what he did. In case you aren't familiar with his Easter week doings:

Sunday: Jesus' triumphal entry.
Monday: Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple.
Tuesday & Wednesday: Jesus preaching in the temple.
Thursday: Jesus instituted the Passover.
Friday: Jesus' crucifixion.

Thursday evening Marie and shared Passover together by taking communion. Friday morning we went to a Good Friday service and took communion again. Remembrance of not only what Jesus did, but continues to do over and over again for me is sweet! We need to remember so we can be thankful for the present.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wednesday: Today we taught more lower primary students in the morning, dropped off the posters we designed for the classroom teachers and librarian, then headed to our nearby housing for lunch and debriefing. I encouraged my girls to continue doing hard things beyond Service Emphasis Week by raising the bar in their own lives. This will build a stronger community.

Thursday: Today was reflection day and our entire school spent a good deal of time listening to other groups talk about their various service projects around Tanzania. Together our school had built walls at a center for disabilities, worked in a hospital, ran a soccer camp, and led kids clubs for orphans. My group also presented on our time teaching English at the Muslim school.

Friday: The last day of school! I helped make it a memorable time for our school community by timing swimmers during the swimming gala and swimming on the teachers’ relay team. The teachers lost, but we put up a good fight and students and teachers alike enjoyed the competition.

Saturday and Sunday: My housemate, Marie, and I relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company. We had several meaningful conversations and were able to start to unwind after a long school term.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Upanga-Asian are of Dar

Monday: Today was our first full Service Emphasis Week (SEW) day. Our careful late night planning Sunday prepared us for a morning of teaching English to primary students. The little girls with their head coverings, the boys with their embroidered prayer caps, they were so easy to love in their childish innocence. While I worked with my small biddu groups of 2-3 students I enjoyed watching my Haven of Peace Academy students carefully working with their little guys. In the afternoon we designed poster displays for the classroom teachers.

It was a time of building links with the Indian community in Dar.

Tuesday: The lessons we taught this morning were smooth as my students and I knew what to expect. Just like scaredy squirrel in the book we read our little Asian pupils, we were into a comfortable routine. For me it was a joy to be in a position to encourage my students while they blossomed and grew as teachers. Their interactions with their buddy groups were lively and engaged. Great job my team!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 41-Sunday: Prepared today for my trip to Upanga by packing and prayer. In just twenty minutes my students and I leave for our time teaching in Al Madrasa Muslim school this week. Please pray we bond well as a team and effectively minister to each other and the Madrasa students. It is an interesting combination as my team of students are a mixture of Christian and Hindu. I can feel God preparing good things for our trip.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Teaching in Al Madrasa Muslim School

Day 36-Tuesday: Today I stopped by the Boys Under 18 basketball game after school to watch my students play a team that last week beat them by only one point. They whooped butt, beating the other team by over 10 points. Go HOPAC!

What a perfect representation this is of a need for teamwork amongst my all students. They need to be pulling together, working together as team to win so much more than basketball games. They need to work to win each other. My students come from different countries, races, and religions; we need to unite as one Christ like community.

Day 37-Wednesday: In the evening I had dinner with the family of two of my high schoolers. It was like escaping to the Western world with their cheesy spaghetti, garlic bread, and house salad along and their country America decorating. The highlight was the casual conversation, creating that sense of a family community. Before leaving I recruited their 12 grade daughter to help make a struggling new student at school feel welcomed.

Day 38-Thursday: A Tanzanian boarding school student came to visit. Her boarding home situation is difficult as she’s often rejected for her bold faith, so it was a joy for her to share her praise and worship with us as she strummed along on Crystal’s guitar. She said, “they won’t let me sing praises in the shower, although others blare R&B in the dorm room.” This 16 year old is one of the strongest women of faith I know.

Day 39-Friday: Today I spent preparing with my team of seven girls for our service learning trip next week. We did some getting to know each other, team building activities, and gathering of supplies for our work in a conservative Al Madrasa Muslim school, where will be teaching English to lower primary school students. Our team shirts are brilliant pink, symbolizing our femininity yet strength in Christ.

Day 40- Saturday: Spent today in prayer about our trip this week. We leave tomorrow. Praying that my students bond together to teach these young Muslims effectively and that the two hindus on my team learn more about Jesus through my interactions with them. I am especially praying that my girls will see past the conservative clothing they will have to wear-long skirts and tops-to focus on their work. Modest clothing should not be their focus.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ps. 18:30- “He is a shield to all who look to Him for protection.”

Day 34- Sunday. My housemates and I had the Bible teacher over for coffee in the afternoon and had a powerful discussion on dealing with the spiritual darkness in our students. We have muslim, hindu, wiccans, and more amongst our eleventh graders and want to show them the more loving, stronger way in Jesus. As a community of women we will take a stand together for our students.

Day 35- Monday. A day of battle. A day where we women of God took a stand. My school, the Haven of Peace Academy, has a thief on the loose and large sums of money, electronics, and other things have been stolen over the past couple of months. During lunch break I led my small group Bible study on a prayer walk around campus, proactively praying for protection for students and staff and a heart change in the thief. We boldly stood together against the enemy and claimed that the Lord would “hold us up with his glorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Ps. 18:30- “He is a shield to all who look to Him for protection.”

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Weekend

Day 33: Friday. Had African style lasagna and watched “What’s Up Doc?” with my neighbors. Cheery conversation. A pleasant time.

Day 33-Saturday. Solid community building accomplished today. Two of my 12th graders organized a huge charity fundraiser for violence against African women. It was a real community building project, bringing together students, teachers, families, and community members for games, face painting, a garage sale, a coke guzzling contest, raffles, hamburgers, and so much more. For a while I ran a bean bag toss, but then was recruited to be the teacher in “throw sponges at the teacher’s face” booth. Quite a few students had good aim and hit me. At one point I even did some arm wrestling, but here I triumphed against some high school girls! That rebuilt my self esteem after the earlier sponges in my face. Overall the event was a success-fun and beneficial to all involved. I’m proud of those girls for organizing it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Halfway there!

Day 30: Wednesday- Swim coaching. My community building today was encouraging my secondary swim team to swim hard, but to do it with a good sense of camaradrie. To build a strong sense of teamwork I had them do team relays and cheer each other other. It was a solidarity building practice.

This marks the halfway point of my 60 day challenge!

Day 31: Thursday- During our 12 Grade Lit class this morning we were discussing feminist literature. After a discussion on feminism and its relevance today I encouraged my girls to not fight for equality with men, but to know they are powerful women created differently by God then men- but not weaker or less valuable. My response from them were wide, empowered smiles.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Weekend rest comes to an end...

BUT continues into the work week!

Day 27: Sunday-Sympathetically listened to a man from church vent about job frustrations. Massaged my housemate. Got a massage in return. Talked with housemates. It was good company; good community.

Day 28-Monday: Got sweaty. Picked up trash around campus during an after school teacher clean up initiative for our upcoming 15 year Haven of Peace Academy (HOPAC) birthday celebration. The Tanzanian cleaners appreciated the help, bridging some of the gap between national staff and foreign staff.

Day 29-Tuesday: Talked to my Grade 8 homeroom about Ephesians 4:17-32 and exhorted them to only speak-or type on Facebook-what is true, necessary, and kind.

Spent some time swimming in the Indian Ocean; then wandering along the beach with Ursula, the Kiswahili and German teacher at HOPAC. More relaxed conversation about everything from students we’re concerned about to why people don’t visit us in Tanzania. Some of the most satisfying community building comes from taking the time to visit with others.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Lazy Saturday

Day 26: Saturday finally arrived! I took a dala dala bus down to the local market to buy a more secure backpack-the zippers are broken on my old one-that I will protect me more from pickpocketing. At the market I had an interesting conversation with a Tanzanian at a backpack stall.

Later I went to visit my neighbors over tea and had some lazy Saturday afternoon conversation. Mainly my community building was through friendship and conversation: all just what they and I needed!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Day 23-Wednesday:

While Crystal, my housemate from Michigan, was cooking dinner I sat on the floor and we did a part of a Bible study on Hebrews chapters 1-2 together. Good discussion and a good time learning together.

Day 24-Thursday:
Led a Homeroom Bible study on an issue I felt was destroying community and oppressing our Upper School-bullying and ranting on Facebook. The general trend at HOPAC is similar to what's happening in schools around the world, students bash eachother and teachers on the internet and don't think of it as wrong. In the words of my homeroom students, "What happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook." After much prayer I spoke about what was on my heart. Thursday I showed them a specific instance of Facebook bullying in Canada and the horrible result. I read them the Proverb warning to "guard your mouth." An interesting discussion ensued amongst my students and I.

Thursday evening I went to a dinner and cell group gathering a local pastor's house. I teach his son and daughter and enjoyed seeing them lead cell.

Day 25: Friday morning I arrived to find an anonymous e-mail written to me entitled "get out." It was filled with horrible insults to me personally and was obviously from a disgruntled Grade 11 or 12 student unhappy with his or her grade on a Literature Mock Exam test he or she sat this week. What struck me was how they hurt me where I'm most sensitive, and the student couldn't possibly have known that. Is this because of my Thursday homeroom?

Spent sometime in the evening with Crystal praying about this and other spiritual attacks.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Silver Sands Beach

Day 21: First day back to school after break. This meant reconnecting with teachers by talking about their long weekend and catching up with my Grade 9 students. It was nice to get away from Dar for four days, but it’s nice to be back to teaching my teens, too.

Day 22: After school Ursula- a German lady who’s been teaching in Tanzania for 15 years- and I meandered down to Silver Sands Beach. With the hotel escari (guard) watching for thieves we swam in the choppy waves and luxuriated in the sun and the miles of clear sky. Afterwards we sat on the sand and talked about, “cabbages and kings.”

This was community building. This was pleasurable. So why are there so few harmonious communities? People are missing out by isolating themselves from relationships for their electronics, work, or sports, or whatever occupies their time.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Community Building On Safari

Day 20: It's mid-term break and Marie and I are taking a break from Dar heat to go on safari [journey in Kiswahili] in Mikumi National Park. We took a local dalla-dalla bus to Ubongo, Dar's central bus terminal. We were promptly verbally and physically harrassed by pushy men-one wouldn't stop grabbing my arm so I turned, looked him in the eys, and slapped him hard. No reaction. This annoyance of a human being continued harrasing me till I entered my bus terminal. Side note: on our trip bac to Dar one of these men pickpocketed by wallet and Marie's borrowed camera. Zilch community building.


Upon arrival at our motel, I found the Tanzanian staff accomodating. How easy it is to be a part of a friendly community! After a tour of their snake park-cobras, green and black mombas, boom slangs, and more- with their fearless guide we ate a leisurely four course dinner (I had grilled goat) with excellent service. The manager was especially pleasant. But...what merit is there in being a part of an already well built community?

Day 21: Left our hotel at 6:30am for a game viewing safari. Little social interaction beyond Marie and I peacefully enjoying each other's company while gazing at herds of elephants, wildebeest, giraffes, and gazelle. Oh, I should probably mention the many jackals, hippos, baboons, antelope, and zebra we met along the way! Let's say today I watched animal communities at work and observed how quiet a content herd is. Better peaceful quiet then noisy discord.

Prov. 21:23 "The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble."
Prov. 19:13 "A wife's nagging is an endless dripping."
Prov. 21:9-10 "Better to live on the corner of the rood than to share a house with a nagging wife."

Day 22: I'm pooped. Considering I spent my day hiking up mountains in the Udzungwa range to a spectacular waterfall, it's understandable. The climb through the rainforest was strenous as the first two hours were steep, to distract Marie and I from our aching legs our guide pointed out red colubus monkeys, blue monkeys, elephant shrews, and other rainforest wildlife. Particularly distracting were his stories about the problems the villagers face with pythons. At one point I shrieked and yelled, "snake!" as I gestured towards a puff adder curled up under a baobab.

"What?" my guide inquired, looked at the spot.

"That!" I squealed again. After five minutes of me pointing he finally spotted the snake. Looking at it with interest, he proceeded to tell us the effects of its venom when a human is bitten.

"You must cut off your hand. Venom spreads up your arm and decays your flesh." When he whistled experimentally at the puff adder I bolted up the trail.

"Where are you going?" he called, "Why are you afraid?"

But wait, our Tanzanian guide continues in my story. Once we arriced at the falls a spiritual conversation ensued. Our Tanzanian rafiki [friend] was curious about more than snakes, he was curious about our faith; so we happily shared the gospel message to him, explaining what it means to be truly, "born again." He thoughtfully asked us to pray for him.

Today my community building was entirely with our inquisitive, but slightly foolish guide.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Righted Failure

Day 19: A sticky, sweaty day. This afternoon after work I laid down to nap when my neighbor came by to borrow an egg. I chatted with her for twenty minutes as she seemed in a chatty mood, but the selfish part of me wanted to get back to my nap. After she left I felt guilty for encouraging her to leave when she obviously wanted another human being to talk to. It can be lonely on the mission field, so why wasn't I willing to give her more of my time?

Later. Redemption in another opportunity to let her talk when I was more awake after a swim in the Indian Ocean. Goal: to be a more willing listening ear.

Warm Memories

Day 18: Often people say, “don’t live in the past, seize the day.” While I’m all for carpe diem, memories are equally important to me as they kindle the spark I need to frequently need to keep my flame burning, particularly when it comes to community building. Memories I have of friends building those walls of community with me through warm gestures motivate me to pass on the torch.

Today I passed that torch by score keeping in the teachers versus all star students basketball game. Time: lunch break. Place: Haven of Peace Academy basketball court. Who: All of the secondary school. While it was intense and competitive, the competition was healthy and at the end the students good-naturedly admitted defeat-especially to their superstar Principal, Mr. Martin. All in all, it was a unifying match that will stick in students’ memories.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Community Needed: Middle School Girls.

Day 17: Led assembly this morning for 6-8 Grade girls at school. My topic was “challenging wrong culture” and I discussed women in Bangladesh stepping outside acceptable Muslim conventions to take a job with the NGO Symbiosis, which includes all kinds of cultural “no, no’s,” including riding bikes. Also I talked about the Biblical model of a woman stepping out to protect her people in Queen Esther. Next I filtered it down to their level, asking them to think about ungodly culture around them. Should they be challenging gossiping or cliques at school? We watched a clip from Mean Girls and did some role playing of scenarios facing teen girls, then had a productive discussion. From the expression on some of their faces I could tell the idea of challenging wrong culture gave them something to think about and, Lord willing, to act on.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Building Goes On

Day 15: Invited our next door neighbor girl, who also happens to be in one of my Literature classes, to join my housemate and I on our mid-term break safari this week. Still awaiting a yes or no. Am praying for a "yes" since the girl could use some quality woman-to-woman time away from Dar.

Day 16: Attended church and worshiped God with other believers. Praying together, singing praises together, searching the Word together. That was a living, thriving community experience.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cookie Baking Tanzanian Style

Day 14: Today was distribution of cookie day. Last night I made a Tanzanian version of sugar cookies for folks at school who've been hospitable to me in the past few months. It was fun being the cookie lady bringing goodies to my many kind-hearted co-workers.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

All Highs

Day 12: “For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many are one body-so also is Christ…so the body is not one part, but many.” 1 Cor. 12:12, 14

It’s nice to have those reminders that I am a part of a community of believers forming the body of Christ. Today I was reminded anew that I am not isolated, but one of many, when I had dessert with my neighbors, a fellow teacher, plus her veteran missionary father visiting from Kenya. The laid back atmosphere was mellow, almost family-like in its comfortableness. The dessert was delicious. After Mrs. Taylor let me lick the serving spoon in the chocolate pudding I was happy I’d ventured out of my quiet home to share some of my evening with believers.

Afterwards I arrived at this community building moral: Community is built through sharing life together, not apart. This means less evenings alone in my bedroom.

Day 13: Mission of the day, striking up genuine conversations with national staff and teachers. Just on my walk to and from the staff room for a cup of strong joe I managed 4 conversations. While this cut into my plan time, it was worth it. One was serious a conversation about the sketchy situational ethics of my Homeroom students, another about a bad/emotional day the teacher I was talking to was having, and the last two mainly joking around with national staff. As I was scooping powdered milk into my coffee Victor encouraged me to stir in more. More milk, more fish, he said. I was then informed that African men like their fishes [women] big. Apparently I am too small for this country. In America, I returned, men like their women small. Laughter followed.

4 Conversations, four comradeship experiences.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ups and Downs

Day 9: “But I will sing of your strength and joyfully proclaim your faithful love in the morning.” Ps. 59:16

Valentines Day. The day of love. Today community seemed to be flourishing wherever I looked. It began with a delicious Greek breakfast of dates, sausage, homemade bread and cake, cheese, and rich Kenyan coffee at a neighbor’s home. The food was not only delicious, but the company, too. The rest of the day passed with good tempered people at Church, friends giving a group of us teachers a lift to the grocery store in town, an invitation to the beach with other friends in the late afternoon, then a rotic dinner (a romantic dinner without the “man”) cooked by my housemate, Marie. Even at my local gas station the attendants were giving out roses to people who filled up their gas tanks.

Yet, shouldn’t this type of day be the rule, not the exception? We should be loving each other through sharing our lives with each other every day. So many days are spent in isolation, where we work side-by-side in our separate spheres. Very little of our social contact is meaningful; taking Valentine’s Day to remind us of each others’ existence.

Day 10:

“If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened, however, God has listened.” Ps. 66:18

Today I felt like a community breaker. As this is the antithesis of my goal to build community wherever I am, it was disheartening until I read the above Bible verse.

This is one thing that happened: A gang of teen boys harassed me when I was walking through the market after work. Even though they were verbally yelling at me, calling me a mzungo [foreigner], grabbing my arm and yanking my backpack, no one stopped to help me. I didn’t get so much as a sympathy glance. I did not feel a part of a supportive community.

Second incident: I walked a student down to the Principal’s office for disrespectful behavior towards me and at first felt hard and unforgiving. I felt like I was tearing down the walls of love between this 15 year-old girl and I until I realized I was disciplining her out of love. My prayer is that God will listen and soften her heart, changing her behavior. If my heart is filled with concern rather than malice, God will listen.

Day 11: My prayer was answered! Today my student came to me a sincere verbal apology and this note in part saying, “I am so sorry that you felt disrespected by me.” Having resolved the issue we parted on a friendly note.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Can He Do It? Yes, He Can!

Day 8:
“Can you fasten the chains of the Pleiades or loosen the belt of Orion? Can you bring out the constellation in their season and lead the Bear and her Cubs?” (Job 28:11-12)

God can do all this; in fact He has done more for me, He’s built me a community right here in Dar es Salaam.

Rather than building community today, my experience was unexpectedly, yet pleasantly, the opposite. I was a part of a community. Sick with the flu I, ached all over in the heat of the East African summer. My housemate, Crystal, gave me a big hug and ordered me to relax in her room with Numbers Season One episodes. Soon Crystal with her cold, Marie with her migraine, and I were all curled up, commiserating with each other and enjoying an escape from the heat. Beyond sickness we each had other personal issues we were struggling with, so our threesome commiserating with each other was just the community we needed.

Isn’t that the way community should be? Today we were a solid front sharing each others downs. Tomorrow, Lord willing, we can share each others’ ups.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Community Building Continues

Day 6:
Today was my turn to lead our weekly staff prayer meeting, so I gave a short devotional on God’s eternal encouragement to us and our encouragement to each other. As a part of it we wrote little notes of encouragement to hearten other staff members and teachers, and then finished with a time of lifting up our school in prayer. At the end I sensed our staff room was filled with a sense of caring for each other, precisely the atmosphere I would love to see extend to every room and every corner of the Haven of Peace Academy!

Day 7: Today was the last day of school before the upcoming day of love. That’s right, the famous-or possibly infamous-Valentines Day. Now I absolutely adore everything to do with Valentines Day, consequently my community building project was to give chocolates to several dear girl students struggling with personal issues; and of course, chocolates and fudge for two of my sweet fellow teachers. My Grade 12 Literature class loved on me with a surprise of scarlet roses. Pretty much love pervaded the halls of our school. That is until my homeroom students ruined it by accusing each other of sending themselves chocolates. Perfect love is still a work in progress for my students, but by God’s grace we will get there!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Days 3-5

Day 3:

My community building today was giving a thank you note and loaf of fresh sun dried tomato Italian bread to our neighbors. They’re an energetic couple on our compound proudly from Tucson, Arizona but serving with Young Life Africa. Last week they had my housemates and me over for ratatouille; it was our first sampling of the dish and our curiosity had been piqued after the famous Rat movie. Surprisingly it was yummy, minus the rodent after taste.

Day 4:

As Valentines Day, the day of love sharing is fast approaching I planned multiple valentine making parties. I gathered supplies for my homeroom, the small group Bible study I lead for teen girls, and our weekly teacher prayer meeting to design cards. Love notes will be flying around our campus this week!

Day 5: As we munched cookies and crafted valentines, I told my small group girls I love them. This launched a discussion on love in friendship.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 2 Community Challenge: Listening

Colossians 3:14
"Put on love, which binds..together in perfect unity."

Today my community building was listening. I listened to two friends, one venting about a terrible "Jonah" day where everything seemed to go wrong, another share about what's on her heart and what God has been teaching her.

Another seemingly small sacrifice for me to make, but to those two it meant someone cared enough to take time to listen to them.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


So, yesterday began a challenge the Lord has lain on my heart. The 60 day community building challenge. In my search for community I’ve decided to ignore the advice in John Mayer’s lyrics to be merely “waiting on the world to change,” but to actively foster change. Rather than to go in search of the ideal community I will grow the one I am already in right here in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Or at least my little bit o’ Dar here on the outskirts of the city center. If I want to live in a group of people dedicated to growing and nurturing each other then I need to take responsibility.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves had been born of God and knows God...because God is love.” 1 John 4:7, 8

Day 1: Today I am sick with swine flu and I feel my contributions were minimal. Smiled at and chatted in limited Swahili with the mango lady at the bus corner as I bought mini mangos. Offered a mango to the snaggle-toothed 7 year old next door to me. Drank a mug of steamy hot chocolate-on an already steamy afternoon- with a student after school. Gave my housemate a big hug.

Little things, I know, but isn't it the many little interactions that make up a community?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Faith Discussions over IndoItalian Food

Over Christmas break a few friends and I spent some time trekking in the Usambara Mountains, where we met a well-traveled backpacking Swiss couple. Seriously, on their vacations they’ve traveled to South America, Central America, North America, Asia, Europe, and now finally Africa. They make Americans who rarely venture out of their state look unadventurous.

After several days my housemate, Marie, and I continued on with the twosome to Moshi to view East Africa’s largest free standing mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. It was worth the hot, tedious trip. After our jam-packed bus ride on a chicken bus (“there’s always room for one more!”) from Lushoto we were relieved to find an “IndoItalian Restaurant” where we were able to relax and chill over pasta and cold drinks. Yet our conversation soon turned to deeper topics as it turned out the couple were spiritually searching and very interested in our missionary work in Tanzania. They professed to be unimpressed with the traditions and rigidity of the two Christian sects in Switzerland, Protestants and Catholics. Yet, they claimed everyone needed something to believe in, something to have faith in. I agreed wholeheartedly that if I did not have my faith I would commit suicide because my life would lack meaning. This shook them up, and they were deeply interested in hearing our views. One thing I emphasized was that I don’t judge people of other religions, just love like the Bible encourages.

At the end of the long discussion we’d shared our faith with them and encouraged them over and over not to take anyone’s word on religion, but to seek out the truth for themselves. The man admitted to owning a Swiss German Bible, but not to ever reading it for lack of time or interest. At the end of the meal they readily gave us their e-mails and I promised them a follow up on “bite sized” scripture to read.

Obviously God had a dual purpose in bringing me to Moshi: Mt. Kili and two seekers. Pray for the two Swiss seekers!