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Tanzania 2009

Tanzania Mission Trip 2009 - How and Why

The possibility of mission work in Africa had been tossed about in conversation between Saskia (my wife) and myself for some time. We both feel that we would like to serve there somehow. It is no coincidence that Pacific Hills has put me in commune with people who have served in Kenya and Tanzania. I put forward an expression of interest for the Short Term Mission trip to Tanzania and with God’s, Saskia’s and the schools blessing, it came to fruition.

The trip was focussed mainly at Jubilee High School in Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania. The first week was allotted relationship building with teachers and students of the school and the second week more physical labour and support to the school. Our itinerary also saw us visit another school at Mvumi village and a couple of village ‘Confirmation Services’ with the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Central Tanganyika. Our pre-mission meetings consisted of team relationship building, itinerary familiarisation, expectation management, activity planning and prayer.

During our trip we progressively read one of Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica - 1 Thessalonians. Our key verse for the trip being Chapter 5 vs15-18: ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.’ We discussed how Paul cared for the church in Thessalonica and longed to visit them. We talked about Paul’s description of how to live in Christ Jesus - a holy life. We also discussed Paul’s writings of a misconception the church may have had regarding the ‘coming of the Lord’. Chapter 5 vs12-15 speaks loudly to me: ‘Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.’

The mission trip to Tanzania certainly has had an impact on my life. Although very hard to quantify, there has been a shift in my life perspective, attitude and faith.  The mission team members, consisting of teaching staff, support staff, parents of students, students and past students all brought along their own flavour of passion, vibrancy and willingness to serve others and God. I see it as a rare opportunity to experience working so closely with such a group - all called to share Jesus’ love on the other side of the world. We had regular reflection times as a group where we read Gods word, prayed, shared and encouraged one another with stories of how God’s been working. It is within this context that a significant change in your walk with Christ will occur – more so I believe, than that of another Sunday morning service at your local church.

After conversing with various longer-term missionary workers in Tanzania, one thing I did become very aware of was their needs and struggles. Short-term teams provide good fellowship for the long-term missionaries and their families who may be subject to experience possible loneliness and isolation. I’m confident that there is great encouragement to missionaries and the people they serve to have other believers come and join them in labour for the Lord. However short term missionaries must be careful not to overburden the longer term missionaries financially and time wise.

Another observation - after you experience ‘real’ poverty, you won’t pay as much attention to your selfish thoughts about how hard you’ve got it or what others might think of you and your worldly status. You are even liable to feel guilty and uncomfortable about the nice things in your house and the food on your table. Your life perspective will change. You will experience a different view – one not though the plastic lenses of our ‘western’ society.
 You may even feel a pull toward going on another mission trip. And best of all, you will most likely have played a part in leading people to Christ.

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The earth has enough for every man's need but not enough for every man's greed.~

Mahatma Gandhi
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