Monday, November 3, 2008

At St. Peter's Lutheran Seminary, Himo

Mt. Kilimanjaro, from our lodgings in Moshi

Hello to All from Moshi, Tanzania,

I awoke this morning to the sound of chanting, at 4 a.m. A large crowd has gathered here in the city center of Moshi, Tanzania, and they are celebrating. This is my first indication of the outcome of yesterday's election in the U.S. Everywhere we have gone, people have asked us about our opinion on the U.S. election. We speak to them about our concern for the unborn, finally committing the election and all things into the hands of our Lord, who reigns over all.

This is the day that I will begin my trip home. Pastor Mayhew and R. Schmitt will remain here in Tanzania for another week. Here are some of the features of our trip over the last 4-5 days:

Over the weekend we made the 5-hour drive to the coast, to visit our stations in the Tanga area. We met with some of the pastors and representatives of the 5 congregations on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, we visited the church at Mkinga, where Pastor Gondwe serves. It is a very poor village, with mud houses and mostly thatched roofs. During the service, an infant boy was baptized, and one adult man was received as a member of the congregation. Pastor Mayhew preached on Rom. 1, the Gospel as the power of God unto salvation, for a Reformation theme. I gave a children's explanation of the meaning of baptism. We had to eat the stewed chicken and rice they had prepared quickly, so as to make it back to Moshi during daylight hours.

Monday was our first visit to St. Peter's Lutheran Seminary in Himo. We presented seminar topics to the students, and met with Pastor Jesse Angowi.

On Tuesday a pre-graduation service was held for the first graduating class of the seminary. The actual graduation is scheduled for Nov. 14, after we are gone.

The singing was truly impressive. Pastor Mayhew and I both delivered addresses to the graduates and students. We presented the grads with a small monetary gift from Project Kinship. Kinship sponsors have made it possible for these men to enter the pastoral ministry. Each of them will now have the opportunity to apply for an MDF "self-help" loan, so that they can arrange for some kind of additional occupation to support their families, as the congregations they will serve are too poor to sustain a pastor's family. One man plans to operate a tailor shop; others will raise chickens.

After another session with the seminary students today, I will be on my way to Nairobi. My flight home leaves tomorrow evening. The trip has involved quite a bit of hard work, but we can plainly see how the Lord is at work among the people of our East African affliate churches. Thank you for following our progress and keeping these efforts in your prayers. In Christ, Pastors B, N, and R. Schmitt

PS -- You can follow the remainder of the visitation by checking Pastor Mayhew's trip journal, at:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Arrival in Moshi

We've had some adventures since I last wrote, mostly having to do with car trouble. In Nairobi it was necessary to replace some front-end parts, and apparently the mechanic didn't do a great job of reassembly. On Wednesday we were in the middle of nowhere, about 30 miles from the Tanzania border, when one of the front driveshafts disconnected from the transmission. We spent about 3 hours trying for a roadside fix.

Finally, the 3 of us left Charles with the car and hired a ride to the border. After visa and customs we got a different driver to take us to Arusha. That was when I realized that I had left my cell phone/PDA in the first car. Whoops.

The intrepid Charles was able to recover my phone from our first hired driver, with the help of the local police. At first, the scoundrel denied that he had it, but they later caught him trying to "unlock" it for use in Africa (which, by the way, is can‘t be done here anyway). All’s well that ends well.

View of Mt. Neru from our hotel window in Arusha, Tanzania
The following day (Thursday) was spent conferencing with pastors, evangelists, and a few Sunday school teachers of the CLCEA, which is led by Pastor Jeremiah Issangya. Unfortunately, transport problems kept some of the men from attending.

That evening, Pastor N., Russ and I set out on foot to find our evening meal. We were hoping to find a pizza joint (not unheard of in a larger city). No such luck. We stepped into several places, only to find that the menu had only local dishes on it. We finally found a place that had some food that was recognizable to us. No sooner had we ordered than the power went out. It didn’t slow down the chef too much, though. We soon had our vegetable curry with rice, and two orders of beef bites in sauce. We have been blessed so far in not suffering from TDDS -- travelers’ digestive distress syndrome.

The next day we left Arusah for Moshi. On the way, we stopped at the home of Pastor Jeremiah and his wife, Judith.

The road to his home was so rough that it was necessary for us to ride up in his old Datsun pickup. Russ and I rode standing in the pickup bed, “Daktari” style.

Pastor and Mrs. Jeremiah live in humble but charming style, with a few cows and chickens in the back yard.

After a brief tea, we were back on the road. Two hours later found us in Moshi, which is nearby to the Himo parish where St. Peter‘ seminary is found. Over the years, all the CLC visitors to the area have spent time at the YMCA youth hostel in Moshi, which is cheap and comfortable. After settling in, we were met there by Pastors Gondwe, Simon, and Ibrahim of the CLCEA. Pastor Simon’s wife had had surgery only two days before; thankfully she is recovering.

Pastor Gondwe also stayed at the “Y” on Friday night, so that we could accompany him to his church in Tanga on Saturday. Tanga is very near the coast of the Indian ocean, about 5 hours drive from Moshi. We will meet there with another area pastor, then participate in Sunday worship at the church in Tanga, before returning to Moshi.

Early this coming week, we will begin our visits with Pastor Angowi of the LCEA, and the students of St. Peter’s Seminary in Himo. We will hold a graduation ceremony for the 8 seminary seniors on Tuesday the 4th.
Everywhere we travel we are impressed with the zeal that these people have for the Word of God. They are eager for better pastoral and teacher training, as well as for Bibles in the local languages, as well as Luther’s catechism. In many ways these churches are becoming more mature. In their infancy, they are led and managed by a single man whom we of the CLC know and trust. As they grow and develop, more structure and the participation of other leaders is needed. While it is not our place to impose rules on them, they do look to the CLC-USA for guidance and direction. So we strive for a good balance of advice and direction, so that God’s kingdom will grow among them, in a way that the Bible describes as “decently and in order.”

We appreciate the prayers of the CLC folks at home. God willing, I will be back in the States on Friday the 7th; Pastor N. and Russ will remain for another week beyond that. In Christ, Pastors B., N., and R. Schmitt