Greetings from East Africa
We hope that all is well in the Northern Hemisphere and that you are enjoying life, family, work and are at peace in Christ. We are entering our campaign season and will soon be having visitors coming to join with us to offer help in the many areas of work here in the Arusha area. If you are interested in making a trip over sometime just drop us a line and we will answer any questions and do our best to convince you to get on a plane.
I have just finished teaching the first quarter at the Andrew Connally School of Preaching. We started with 12 students and, unfortunately, had to let 3 go due to lack of being able to keep up academically. Of the nine remaining all but one passed my Hermeneutics class. Promising for the first quarter. We will jump into the second quarter in a few days and I will be teaching the book of Acts. Keep these men in your prayers as they pursue the journey of learning and growing into being effective preachers.
In between day-to-day activities, bible studies, etc., Anita has started a long anticipated project at the ACSOP. For quite some time we have wanted some artwork at the school that would reflect our mission and goal for what we seek to accomplish as a preacher training institution. We gave Anita a broad outline of what we want to communicate and are now standing back to watch her work her artistic magic. The project is an ambitious one as she will be painting a mural that covers the 4 walls surrounding the commons area; each wall is roughly 9ft tall x 50ft long.
The congregation where we worship, the Kwa Mrombo church of Christ, continues to be an encouragement to us and all that worship there. Charles Heberth, the local preacher (instructor at ACSOP, Dean of recruiting, member of our translation team, manager of our garden and rabbits, etc.) does a masterful job of delivering good, balanced, classes and sermons and is actively involved in evangelistic efforts in the area. We recently had Charles and his family over for dinner. Dad asked Charles what he liked to do when he had a day off. I rarely see Charles (whom I now affectionately call Chucky) perplexed but he certainly was when asked this question. His answer was in no way fake when he said “I don’t know what that is, I can take a break when life is over.” If you spend much time around Charles it becomes apparent that he believes those words. Of special note I just received a text from Charles that said “We thank God for His loving kindness, He has added two more souls to His Kingdom. Please pray for Nathali and Prosper as they have begun their Christian life. These are husband and wife.”
One of the reasons we had Charles and his family over was so that they could enjoy meeting my brother Ryan and sister-in-law April. Ryan and April have never been out of the States before so what better way to break them in then to bring them to a third-world country? It is enjoyable to watch the look on the faces of those who have never experienced a place like Tanzania. We thoroughly enjoyed them being here and are certain they returned to the States with a new perspective and appreciation for the myriad of blessings enjoyed by Americans.
We are somewhat melancholy as our house is about to be very empty. Madeleine returned to the States 3 weeks ago to prepare for her wedding and subsequent start of college. Anita and I are still quite weepy about her leaving. On April 1st mom and dad will be returning as well. They have really been a big help to us and many of our friends and brethren here in Tanzania. It was a big step for them to move here but one that, by their own admission, was one of the best decisions they have ever made. They, like others, will return to living in a nation that is overflowing with blessings and is, for the most part, unaware of life in a place like Tanzania. We will miss them greatly.
I am asked from time to time what a typical day in Tanzania is like. Truth is in some ways its much like being back in the States: Get up, shower, go to work, eat, sleep, repeat. In other ways there is no such thing as a typical day in Tanzania. Generally each day can be measured by the number of difficulties or tragedies avoided or handled. For example, this past Tuesday I took off for school around 7:15am, taught and headed toward home to get ready to take Ryan and April to the airport that evening. On the way home my steering box disintegrated leaving me with good ol’ fashion armstrong power steering. The roads in Tanzania are some of the worst in the world and wreak havoc on the vehicles trying to tame them. I made it home safe, assessed the damage and made arrangements to get it to the Toyota dealer for repair. While preparing to take it in I discovered that my left front shock absorber had broken as well. I requested that the dealer fix both and that I needed to take it to the airport that evening. They assured me they could fix the steering box in time but had no shock absorbers in stock. I called around 4pm and they told me to come down and get it (about a 45 minute trip each way). Nesta dropped me off and took off toward the house. After waiting for 30 minutes the manager called me in to say it couldn’t be finished that evening. Great, “Nesta, come get me they can’t fix it today” 30 minutes later he arrived to get me. Now, while I was waiting for Nesta he called to say he would be a little bit because the other vehicle had a flat tire (We are now up to 13 flats in 8 weeks). Flat fixed and we are on our way home. Nesta and I are chatting and the vehicle shuts off. “Nesta, what’s going on?” “Fuel goes off” he said. “Huh? Are you saying we are out of fuel?” “Ndiyo.” Great again. Off he goes to get some diesel while I wait. He arrives, we get it started and get home. We can’t take the vehicle we were in because the belts are showing through on the tires and it will beat you to death when you go faster than 30 mph. Not to worry, we are replacing them in a week or so. But for now, we are scrambling to leave for the airport on time and get a vehicle to do so. We arrange to take Stephanie Stafford’s Rav4. It’s a munchkin vehicle for sure but we manage to get all the bags in and head toward the airport which is an hour / hour and half away. Under good conditions the road is quite dangerous but add rain, no streetlights, very few stripes and people walking across the road and it will make you a praying professional. Well, we safely got Ryan and April to the airport and headed back. Then the deluge came. Outside of Arusha traffic came to a dead stop. Two cars had collided and shut down the road for a lengthy amount of time. In situations like this there is no order whatsoever. People drive wherever they want, whenever they want. They do not care that, in the end, their selfishness makes the whole situation far worse. It’s chaos in the dark with a lot of rain. Fun, fun, fun. The wreck clears and we continue driving through the deluge to get home. We make it safely back, and sit down to relax, catch our breath and watch a little TV, then the power shuts off. Any of this sound typical? It may not to you but it is an accurate picture of about 80% of our regular routine. It’s odd, but we find ourselves missing these types of challenges when we are away from them for any amount of time.
When all the dust settles, and we are able to do our work, the troubles fade and we are able to rejoice that we have either taught men how to preach, educated and edified the brethren in the local church, or shared Christ with those who have never known Him. In the end, the good far outweighs any bad that may come from living in such a diverse and challenging place.
We thank you for your support and hope that one day you will be our guest and we can share some of these adventures with you in person. Until that time comes, take care and stay busy in the kingdom of the Lord.
Sean, Anita, Mom and Dad
To see Sean’s report with pictures, please click here.