This trip has been an adventure. Luke, Dad, Mr. Morefield, Noah, and I chased chimps through the rain forest in Gombe with some college students. The kids got to give lessons in the morning to the children from Hope of the Nations. I got p6 and p7 with about 50 kids when the usual was like 20 maybe. Loved the kids they were so alive and loved to play soccer. You could really see the difference between God working and the devil here. There were witchdoctors here casting spells on us, and at the same time there were Christian programs like Hope of the Nations at work to help. All in all this was an great trip, and I have many stories to tell to all of you when I get back.
Looking back, I’m gonna miss it. The spiritual forces of good and evil are so evident there, and you don’t have to look very far to find an adventure. The lawlessness and beauty of Africa resonate with my heart. There is a wildness deep down that Africa ignited in me, and I’m reluctant to go back to the states where it is suppressed by comfort and safety. I am so glad that God gave me this experience. He gave me a new lens that I prayed for, which was to be able to look past myself and focus on what God was showing me, and he showed me a masterpiece, and a mission. I will always remember running through the pouring rains of the Gombe forest, riding land cruisers, being attacked by a baboon, and having kids climbing all over me constantly. Thanks everyone.
This was an amazing journey for me. All the new things I saw! My favorite part was when we got to teach all the kids Gods love for us. It was an awesome place to be in, but there was really hard times for us to go though. My friend got an ear affection and my mom fell and sprained her ankle. It got really hard. At one point I asked my dad, “daddy, why are so many bad things happening to us?” Later on, I thought, “Is Satin trying to get in the way of us teaching about God’s love?” I didn’t know anymore. God taught me that even in the ruff times, we can still trust in what God does for us. It was also really crazy. Kids every where asking me “where are you from?” and “Whats your name?” On this trip what God taught me most was that even when every path seems dark, theres still a light shining your way.
- Scarlet (or Skylar as the nationals called her!)
Reading my kid’s blog is so moving to me! Because that is what this trip was about for me—watching their lens for the world change before my very eyes! During this trip I was basically a handicapped Mary Poppins. My primary job was to hobble around giving instructions to our children making sure they took all their medicine, applied all their sun screen, drank enough water, washed their hands, were prepared to lead their Bible study classes and to open their eyes to a much wider world. Mission accomplished! I loved watching my kids fall in love with God’s people and God’s creation. They were less fearful and timid than any adult. They jumped in and played hard. There were many questions and processing that went on throughout the weeks. I was blessed to be present with my children, in times of play, work, questions about culture/differing faiths/Jesus, and occasional tears! What can I say—I really enjoy these kiddos! (the Morefield’s kiddos too!) Thank you for praying for us and sharing in this journey! And I thank God for making this experience a reality.
- Alison (Mama Noah)
Only hours left until we head back across the crazy city of Dar es Salaam to the airport. As I look out over the Indian Ocean, I’m in a sort of bittersweet awe of what God has done. For us McGregors, this trip has been 7 years in the making—basically since Aly and I first came here. We’ve longed with all our hearts to bring our kids and watch as God opened their eyes the way He first did with ours. Africa does something to you… it breaks your heart, stirs your soul, and messes with your head just enough to make you view your life entirely differently. Listening to my kids over the past couple of days I am convinced this has all happened to them as well.
So. For my part, at the end of this trip I know there are 18 future pastors and ministers who (hopefully) understand just a bit more about the rigors of ministry and who (hopefully) have a bit more to go on when they read the New Testament. I also know that there are 5 McGregors who have gone through the African furnace together and have come out forever bonded and forever changed. My heart is full, and I am ready to come home.
The trip was so much fun! There were some bad parts of the trip but I know to not worry. Because I know that God is with us and protecting us. My favorite memory of the trip was when I got lots of hugs and letters from the kids, because it looks like they spent a lot of time on their cards. And I like hugs. Thank you for praying for us.
- Love, Faith
Overall the trip to Kigoma was good. I got to see some amazing things like chimpanzees in the Gombe national park, zebras at a nearby hotel and the one and only lake Tanganyka. We also got to swim in the lake, which was fun. The school was hard work. I was not a big fan of all the grabby little kids but playing with them during recess wasn’t bad. The food surprised me because I was not expecting it to taste good but it did. I will miss Kigoma but I am glad to be coming home.
- Luke Morefield
The Easter celebration presented by the 4th-7th graders at the school on Thursday was beautiful. The children were thrilled to have learned so much in such a little time. It was neat to see some of the teachers take a special role in leading parts of it too. The performance brought tears to my eyes at different times. I confess sucking those tears back up into my eyes to make it through the show. I was overwhelmed with being a part of this dream that the LORD had planted in my heart 8 years ago. I was overwhelmed with this being the last time I would teach these amazing kids. I was overwhelmed by the love that the staff and students had for our team. There were definitely daily trials, but teaching at the school and meeting great friends was worth it!
I must confess that one of my daily trials turned into a praise. Every night I was not looking forward to the cold shower I would have to take to get clean… Until one night there was no water at all where we were staying. I was going to have a melt down! Lol! We had no way of communicating to anyone that we needed water and we had no vehicle to get anywhere. My daughter Faith said, “Mommy you have to pray.” I took her advice and did. Soon Sylvester came to our home (I honestly forget why he showed up). I broke out in yelling thankful praises and called him the angel God sent to answer my prayer. I have never been more thankful for a cold shower! Many children in this area do not have this basic need met and the LORD had to put my complaining heart in check!
- Love, Dee
How do I describe this trip? That’s a question I’ve struggled with over these last days of our journey. I’ve learned that Tanzania is a country of unbelievable beauty, abundant resources, and a proud people; but, at the same time, it’s one that is too busy surviving to appreciate scenic views, has crumbling infrastructure all around, and is reluctantly moving away from its traditions and culture. Tanzania is a contradiction in a lot of ways, and this trip has been no different. Desolation and beauty, frustration and joy, failure and success, struggle and grace, my challenge has been living somewhere in the balance of these apposing forces. I have had to surrender to the moment because circumstances change from one minute to the next. But it’s in those moments that I’ve been made aware of my utter dependance on God. As we return home, I pray that I would continue to surrender to God in the balance of all things and in every moment. I’m looking forward to getting back and telling you all about this trip… or not - I still can’t figure out what to say.
There comes a point on these trips where you finally get acclimated. You start to feel a sense of connection with the culture, a flow with the rhythm of the place. Your internal clock finally resets itself from the jet-lag, and you no longer feel completely out of sorts. Like Sam said this morning, “I finally feel like I get it here.” Or like Tony said this evening (after a wonderful dinner at our friends Sylvester and Phoebe’s house), “My prayer this morning was that I would feel sad to leave, and tonight I feel like that prayer has been answered.”
In so many ways, we’ve turned the corner.
Now If you’ll remember, my first post at the beginning of this trip was one where as a team we were feeling the burn. We were tired and unsure. In many ways I believe we were dealing with some spiritual warfare. At that point, I felt compelled to ask for as much prayer as possible, because I was honestly unsure if our team was going to make it without someone having a serious meltdown. And so I enlisted a few of you. Almost overnight, things began to change. Aly received a walking boot from Coni for her sprained ankle. It’s probably the only one in Kigoma. Deanna was able to get ahold of almost all the supplies she was missing and alleviate her stress. Tony and I felt much more free to let go of our need to control all outcomes. Our kids started sleeping the night through, and not a single one of them are still sick with the flu we had when we arrived.
If this trip has taught me anything, it is a reaffirmation of the power of prayer and the beauty of having people both back home and here in Africa who love us. We have never once felt alone, never once felt like we were abandoned. At times we have felt weak and unsure and overwhelmed and in desperate need of help… but never alone.
Our trip has been a perfect case study for many of my lessons out of 2 Corinthians. Personally, feel a new connection especially with Paul’s words in 12:9-10:
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content… For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for praying for us and helping us turn the corner here. Our time here is almost done, but our hearts are just now starting to fill up with this place and this experience. Thank you for releasing His grace and His power!
Hello my name is Samuel Kenneth McGregor and I was born 13 years ago. This is my 2nd trip out of the country and my 6th trip out of the state of California. I’ve only been to 4 places now: Africa, California of course, Nevada, and Alaska. Africa is not what you expect at all. It’s so broken on the outside. There is nothing really usual about this place to me. The houses are huts made out of brick and twigs. The toilets are squatty potty’s. The cars are bikes. I’m learning how spoiled we are.
I have found the nationals to be much nicer, grateful.
Now, if you reading this and thinking, “ no they aren’t, I’m so much better”. That’s what I mean, they would never say that. When they start a conversation it’s “hi, how are you? how’s your family? are you ok?” Then they ask how they can help me get whatever I need, they put other people’s needs in front of them.
I’ve never seen any of them get angry, instead they say, “ nice try.”
It’s not about power or money, they are about relationships. I think we all could learn from them. I’m not saying we (Americans) are bad people. Please don’t take that from this.
Me, personally, I feel changed from them.
I encourage you to not yell the next time things don’t go your way. Rather remember that there are people who have it worse in every way but have a way better time with it.
I’m really glad to be here.
Teaching music at Hope of the Nations Primary School has been a joyful experience. I truly love every minute of instruction and wish the classes were longer than 40 minutes each. My schedule is 4th grade Bible class, 4th grade recorders, 5th grade choir, 6th grade choir, and 7th grade drums. Every other day I train teachers to read music with recorders. The choir had 1 after school rehearsal and a Saturday rehearsal as well. Noah helps with drumming, Scarlet and Faith help with choir, and Faith and Sam help with the recorder class.
Recorder class has been amazing to teach because they have progressed so quickly. I am giving them a lot of information to grasp in each lesson. We worked hard on learning the parts of the staff and rhythm last week. This week we will work hard on knowing where B A G live on the staff. They will play Hot Cross Buns for their performance and sing the tune of the song with Different words. They will sing God Made Me.
The message of God’s grace is our theme every time in Bible class. Because of the Muslim background of this country, it is the message that needs to be heard over and over again.
We have read the stories of Jesus loves the Little Children, Zacchaeus, the Prodigal Son, and Jesus Washing Feet & Communion/Passover. Before we teach the lessons, we play entertaining games that fill the classroom with laughter and fun, we sing a fun song to move to, and practice memorizing their Bible verse. They have memorized Ephesians 2:8 & 9.
The Easter musical is progressing nicely. They are truly excited to be able to celebrate Easter in this way. The anticipation of sharing their gifts and talents with their families and community brings them joy. They are passionate about these songs and sing them beautifully. I will be choosing soloists to sing in 2 of the songs this coming week. During Saturday practice I chose narrators and they practiced their speaking parts. They are doing a great job with this. On Tuesday I lost my voice, but it is slowly recovering. I have been leading singing with my flute mostly and then adding the accompaniment CD.
I have never taught 7th grade before and here is the best place to start. They are a quiet group, but they are coming out of their shell. As you can imagine, they have great rhythm and play tight together. To watch them grow in knowledge of reading rhythms is so rewarding.
Teacher training is going well. I am training 5 teachers; the 4th through 7grade teachers and the Principal. Pray they will have the confidence to teach what they have learned on recorders. These teachers are amazing singers and I love to hear them sing their morning hymns in Swahili at teacher meetings. The staff at the school are very welcoming and loving. They know how to serve well. It is an honor to serve along side such joyful and humble Christians.
Like something out of Jurassic Park, we came around the point in Herald’s 50 foot boat to find the prehistoric jungles of Gombe National Wildlife preserve. The view from the deck was spectacular, but it paled in comparison to what we saw once we made ground. As soon as we docked, we were met by baboons hungry for what ever they might find onboard. Luckily, Sylvester was wise to the harry beasts and immediately led some of the kids (and even some of the adults) on a game of “Corner and Scare the Hungry Monkey.” With arms spread wide, Sylvester and his haphazard team would surround the hapless baboons and force them into a choice of which human would be the easiest to scare so that they could make their escape. It was never too long before the terrified creatures would see their targets and rush at them with full force, stopping only feet away, and then dodging sideways before sprinting off.
Once we had our fill of torturing the animals, we set out with a large group and several guides on our expedition to try and find the famous chimpanzees (which was actually what we came for). The jungle was thick, but we were able to use trails through most of it until one of the guides got a lead on some chimps. After that, it was beating bush through some of the thickest terrain I have ever encountered. The effort was quickly rewarded, though, as we soon came upon a family of chimpanzees dining in large tree. We quickly got out our cameras and started photographing the rare animals as best we could through the leaves, all the while hoping they would descend to ground level. Our whole group was able to see the chimps, and Jake got some great shots before his flash inadvertently went off, and he was immediately dimed-out as the culprit by one of the college aged missionaries in our group.
Eventually, the chimps did come down, and Jake as able to get some more great pictures (this time without the forbidden flash) before the animals fled into the thick vegetation. We pursued the chimpanzees the best we could though the deep jungle, but the terrain became impassible, so we had to make our way back to one of the trails. Our tour continued on further, still trying to track down more chimps; but after an hour or so, we had to call it quits. From there, we hiked up to an amazing waterfall and took some more great pictures. On the way back to the boat, we were given a reminder of some of the dangers of this kind of wilderness, as a huge tree began to crack and break, ultimately crashing to the ground in the same area we were standing only minutes before. Then, the Tanzanian rain came and soaked us for our efforts before we made it back to the boat. All-in-all, it was an amazing trip and well worth the back and leg pain the next day.
It was a solid adventure and a great break from our rigorous schedule in Kigoma. I’m so appreciative Jake and I got to spend this time with our sons being reminded of God’s great creation and power.
Having mobility issues in a 3rd world country is very difficult.
Yesterday afternoon I rolled my ankle, an injury I’ve had before. I heard it pop and felt the pain surge, along with the thought “really?” Down I went into the dirt. I was able to scoot myself to some cement and wait for Jake to come help me access the situation. As I waited my vision became dark and then bright. I thought it was from the pain, but I’m now thinking it was dehydration.
Jake quickly decided I should move inside. As I began to limp I started to fall, apparently I was blacking out. Just before I hit the ground a second time I felt the strong arms of our cook, Mama Gohoti, catch me. She and Jake quickly swooped me up and carried me to my bed.
I spent the next several hours drinking almost 4.5 liters of water, laying in my mosquito net bed, wondering how this will effect the team and how in the world I was going to use a squattie pottie?
Crutches arrived some time later (w/o handles I might add), and it was time to attempt to hobble over steps, uneven bricks, tree roots, dirt and then try to navigate a tiny room with a whole in the ground aka squattie pottie (oh with another step)! (This was probably about 100+ feet away from our room.)
Lucky for me Harold Knepper made me my very own toilet (a large bucket with a whole in the bottom w/ a random toilet seat). This bucket sat precariously over the hole in the ground. One wrong move and it would all come down!
The struggle hobbling to the restroom was only multiplied by the fact that I had drank 4.5 liters of water!!! This required multiple trips! Later Jake gave me piggy back rides. (What great marriage therapy!)
Walking to the school is now out of the question-crutches or no crutches. The dirt road is not flat, many rocks, ditches, and garbage will make that path difficult.
Recognizing this made me very sad.
That very morning Dee, the children and I had enjoyed our walk to the school with 100’s of other children. Children dressed in different school uniforms, all staring at us in confusion. (We kind of stand out!) The HoN’s children, recognizable by their uniforms, would run by us and smile! And what beautiful smiles!
While at the school, the children and I have been playing all sorts of games with the students. We also get to teach Bible lessons and help in the classes. Meanwhile, Dee is busy preparing and teaching music classes. You can hear her flute being played through the school. It is quite beautiful!
And early in the morning I’ve had the privilege of teaching counseling skills and devotionals to the teachers. They are the main support systems for these students; students whose lives are very very difficult.
What a privilege it is to serve at the school for our families!
I hope you can see why I was so sad to miss out. Even for a single morning. Which is this morning. I’m writing this letter at the Bible college. From where I sit I can hear Jake and Bible College students go back and forth over the meaning of a particular scripture; Jake is so good at teaching! And Tony is under a palapa (large hut) training 14 security guards. They have made comments on how different Tony is than the American movie cops bc he teaches from the heart, loves God and seems to genuinely care for them. (Local police are corrupt and brutal.)
As I sit here and reflect, I have a new respect for the story of the Paralytic man who was lowered through a roof to the feet of Jesus for healing. This man must have been carried by friends. Friends who carried him to Jesus and we’re willing to rip a large whole in the roof top, hoist the paralytic man to the top of the roof, only to lower him back to the floor. That is no easy task!
What hope they had in Jesus and what love they expressed for the paralytic man.
As humans (local teachers, students or our team) we have needs and we simply can’t make it through this life without our friends, reliable support systems and Hope in a loving God.
I am grateful for our friends Tony & Dee, the children, Harold & Coni, the cook, the guards, and especially my husband for helping me when I simply could not help myself.
Thanks for praying!
PS-I now have a walking boot which will grant me mobility! Coni Knepper has the same reoccurring injury and was prepared!
AND it’s Tony’s Birthday!
Just want to update you all on how things are progressing... the pace is fast and there isn't any internet where we are staying, so we have to check in where we can!
- Work at the primary school is going well. Our kids seem to be adapting beautifully to the kids there, and they have stepped right in to help where they can. They have actually amazed both their parents and Harold & Connie (the leaders of HOTN). For this we are thankful.
- Tony began his class with the security crew today. They were hesitant at first, but after an hour or so jumped right in and started hurting each other :) Tony was able to give four of them their first Bibles, which was an unexpected blessing. We can't wait to see what God does with this crew.
- Aly and Dee are under a bit more pressure. Dee has a cold, which is hard when your primary tool is your singing voice. Pray that she experiences healing. She also has had some difficulty with some of her supplies, but though prayer it seems to be working out. Aly sprained her ankle this afternoon, pretty badly. Pray for healing. If she can't put weight on it we may have to move residences so she can get around a bit better. Her heart is to be right in the mix of things with her kids, and the thought of not being able to do this is a bummer.
- The boys all went to the village this afternoon, and experienced firsthand the darkness of this place. There were a group of women actively trying to disrupt their Bible club, and trying to intimidate them. Someone looked as if they were trying to put curses on the group giving the message. They came back a little wide-eyed, and we processed and prayed.
- Jake is teaching from second Corinthians. His passage for today reads as follows:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed...
...For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
It seems more than appropriate. We can feel the reality of the spiritual warfare here... But we serve a God who is greater and who has a beautiful thing He plans to do in and through us here. We covet your prayers!
The past 72 hours have been absolutely epic. In both the positive and negative senses of that word.
After our wives and kids left to the Bible school, Tony and I got to talking this morning (we have an hour yet to wait until we begin our teaching). We are keenly aware right now that when we set out two years ago to make this trip happen for our families, neither one of us really thought through the ramifications of that decision. Apparently what we unwittingly decided at that point was to allow God to do what he needed to do to connect with us. What that has effectively meant at the opening of this journey is that everything has immediately been taken out of our hands.
- One of the kids had a ruptured eardrum and resulting ear infection from the 29 hours of flights it took to get here. We are far away from Kaiser.
- Alison has a fever, the chills, and congestion that began the day we left and it hasn’t let up.
- The airport in Dar es Salaam was just as weird as always, and we had a fairly significant mix-up on our flights that we had to try and remedy across culture, language, and sleep-deprivation barriers.
- As a part of our cultural engagement, we are staying in Kamala village. It is very hot, very humid, and so very different from anything we know. And our first night here also seemed to be the night the entire village decided to stay up and party all around us. The net result is that the adults in our group combined still didn’t achieve a full night of sleep.
- Another of the kids came down with a fever this morning- the first morning of the work part of our trip.
It feels like I’m complaining. I’m not… just observing what is happening. Tony and I are very, very conscious of the reality that as men, husbands, and leaders, we are out of our depths here. We are being put in a place of utter dependence. Which for men—especially men used to having a lot of control—is the most challenging and uncomfortable place we can be.
And then, right in the middle of our team’s morning dialogue about the struggle to adjust, a friend sent scripture. The scripture spoke of God’s power, his abundance, and his supply for every need.
And (I kid you not) as I was reading it aloud, lightning streaked across the sky.
I have no doubt that God intends to show his power to all of us on this trip. And—as scary as this is to admit—that He can and will do whatever it takes to open us up to that power.
So I ask you a favor: Pray for us, if you can, right where you are. Pray for us as hushands, as men, and as leaders who need to learn how to be led.
None of us has any business attempting to make words into coherent sentences right now, so Dee will do her best. Here goes.
*passes computer to Dee with a mix of malaise and disinterest*
Today has been a struggle of staying awake to acclimate to Tanzania time. We went to the Slip Way Market to window shop. We walked the jetty by the Indian Ocean and had a nice meal at a restaurant by the ocean. Then we took small naps with Tony waking all of the kids up in Marine like fashion and Dee trying to defend them. We are keeping awake by swimming in the small pool and playing cards. It is dinner and bedtime for us. We board our last plane at 8:50am and arrive into Kigoma around 12pm Sunday. WOOHOO! Praying that we will have overcome the jet lag and will be ready to engage in whatever awesome thing comes our way.