Stories from Tanzania

How can I explain what the last few weeks have been like?

In the month of February I  had the privilege to meet local leaders who have become my heroes. I have been reminded of what it means to welcome and be welcomed; to value honor and hospitality; to life a life of service in ways both big and small. They humble me and teach me and inspire me.

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During our time we hosted two separate gatherings of 25-40 leaders from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi, and Congo.  I laughed with people. Cried with them. Prayed for them. Was prayed over and blessed and fed more than I can count. We crammed into cars together and sat over chais. I made (many) mistakes and learned so much. 

It’s hard to explain the ways these stories lodge somewhere deep in my heart and begin to slowly change me.  As I arrived to Tanzania the second time, the word that was constantly on my mind was “receive.” Even when I might be more comfortable giving and helping, I was reminding myself to humbly open my hands and my heart to what I am offered.  For they truly have so much to teach me.

Our first gathering was a meeting of 40 leaders forming the first East Africa Education Alliance. These leaders have all begun multiple schools in their communities to provide the opportunity of education to children at risk. When we began on Monday morning, we expected to gain information on about 27 schools in 7 countries. By the end of the meetings, however, the number had reached 86!

 

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Our second gathering was a consultation of about 25 leaders on the topic of social enterprise – a topic we first discussed with leaders last February. We spent three days listening to their challenges and discussing possible solutions together. Since our meetings with them last year, they have already begun impressive projects, such as growing tomatoes and selling them to hotels and restaurants, starting goat banks to fund their school and provide goats for local families in poverty, and renting out their facilities for events. All of these ventures provide funding for their schools, microloan and savings groups, and other ministries among the most vulnerable, as well as creating jobs in their community. It is truly amazing to see what they have accomplished!

 

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While we were there I also had the privilege of attending a local Maasai church, visiting projects in the area, and partnering with our amazing videographer Tim from Pursuit of Water to capture some stories I cannot wait to share with the world!

There are so many things I love about Tanzania: all the ginger, chai breaks every day, beautiful flowers, piling extra people in a van, their gorgeous fabrics. But most of all I love their value of people, their emphasis on honoring others, and the fact that when we plan a night to celebrate them, they turn right around and pray over and bless us.

Tanzania, all I can say is thank you. It has been an honor to catch a glimpse of all God is doing in your midst.

You remind me how to laugh, but more importantly you are teaching me how to love.

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Learn more about my work with Loom International here

photo credit goes to Ike Kim

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