Friday, July 11, 2014

Serving others and more shopping

Nickson with the local pastor

With every passing minute, my time in Tanzania comes to a close. On Thursday, July 10 I visited Nickson’s village. While there we visited a local school. The children loved having their picture taken, and seeing the photos brought smiles and laughter. Amy Martin spent time with the youngest group of children, and they loved playing peek-a-boo with her.

Trish Helland just keeps on adopting children. In addition to her African grandbabies, Denis and David Deo, she was snuggling with some of the school children. I would not be surprised if she brought some kids home! It is a good thing they all have mothers, otherwise the teacher would be like, where have half my class gone? LOL

Elizabeth and I got a ride on a motorcycle from the school to the church. About two and a half years ago, Muslim extremists burned down a Christian church and destroyed everything inside. They are now rebuilding the church using brick instead of straw. The bishop of the church forgave them after it burned, and as a result some of the Muslim men and women converted to being Christian. We all joined hands and prayed for the new church, which is still being built, and that it will give new life and faith to the people who will be using it. I hope that the tensions will be eased and there will be no more problems between the groups. Apparently this was an isolated event, and in most places there is no conflict between the Christians and the Muslims. It just proves that no matter where you go, there will always be rabble-rousers. 

Handing out Webkinz animals from the Wizas
We also handed out supplies to the local children, including flip-flops, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and stuffed animals. I want to give huge kudos to my friend Jeff Wiza, and his wife, Hilary, for donating their unplayed with Webkinz plush animals. The children absolutely loved them. 

It is kind of amazing to see what the children have as toys. Like I mentioned earlier, the Deo boys were playing soccer with a wadded up ball of paper. An $11 soccer ball brought them so much joy. The other day, the two boys were playing with a truck made from cardboard and old soda bottle tops. In a world where our children have iPhones and iPads, Smart Boards and Wii, it is truly humbling to see simple things bring such glee to others. We are so happy for all the generous gifts that have been donated. 

Before heading back to Arusha, we stopped to do some shopping in Nickson’s village. When I first headed on this trip, my parents made a generous donation to my trip. My dad asked “so if I give money for you to go on vacation, it is tax-deductible?” While this trip has been a vacation of sorts from my actual real-life job, it is not really a vacation. It has been work, covering the Helping Babies Breathe and Healthy Births and Babies classes; helping paint whiteboards at the New Life Band School; serving needy families; being a part of the education at the school; even climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

Young Tanzanian schoolchildren. They know how to melt the heart.
And when we shop at local places like those in Nickson’s village, all that money stays local and puts food on the plates. When we stay with host families, we pay them for putting us up, and that money helps their own families. So while it has been a relief to get away from my regular life, everything we do directly benefits the local people.

I have been incredibly blessed to get to better know the families of the New Life Band, to see for myself what Tanzania is all about, and to use my talents to share the much-needed work. 

Check back tomorrow for what will most likely be my last blog post from my trip.

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