Friday, July 27, 2018
Pastor Ibrahim encouraged Team Zambia with this section of scripture shortly before we departed for Lusaka International Airport to begin the first leg of our long journey home. It was a mixture of emotions for all of us. We were sad to be leaving but excited to be returning home to see family and friends. We were encouraged by the fellowship we shared both with our African brothers and sisters and our teammates from across the US. Perhaps some of us were even anxious to be removed from a group and a setting that is so conducive to sharing the saving news God's plan for our salvation. Through these passages and Pastor Ibrahim's devotion, the Lord had something to tell us: there is more to do. Teaching for the 2018 Mission Helpers has concluded in Zambia, but this is a race that calls for endurance, and for that endurance we need to look to our Savior.
Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." -John 4:33-34
During one of our group devotions during the past couple of weeks we read this passage, and the thought crossed my mind - What if I prioritized sharing the Gospel the same way I prioritize where and when I will have my next meal? What would change? The answer: A LOT! That's exactly what Jesus was saying here. It was not just important, but it was his purpose, and He has called us for that same purpose.
This trip has been a great opportunity to really focus on sharing the Gospel. We have entire days planned around teaching. On top of that, it's been quite humbling for our team to recognize the opportunities that the Lord is presenting us with when we are not teaching. Whether on the street (we stick out like a sore thumb, and people ask questions) or at our hotel meeting fellow travelers, or in the backyard speaking with the grandfather of one of the students we were able to teach, God was giving us opportunities to talk about Him. After that realization, we can't deny that God presents these opportunities at home all the time, and quite often we miss or even ignore them. Thankfully, we can be confident that the Lord will continue to give us opportunities, endurance and confidence to share His saving word.
It's my prayer for all of the Mission Helpers and all of you reading this, that the Lord would bless you as you go and make disciples of all nations - whether that means your next door neighbor or children in Africa. May He give you the endurance to run the race that is set before you, fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
After an eight hour van ride, we safely arrived in Lusaka once again. Now we have a couple free days before we fly to Dubai Wednesday night. Today, we are going to another craft market to get souvenirs (yes, Mom, you are getting one).
This morning, one of our team members went to the hospital with an infection. He is doing well, but will stay until tomorrow. Prayers are requested for his health and his comfort in the travel ahead.
It's amazing how quickly this trip has gone. In less than a week, I will back to work. It'll be nice to have WiFi all the time, but there will be a lack of "You are welcome!" everywhere we go.
Sunday morning began with a lovely church service at the place where we were staying. (The congregation in Livingstone is hoping to buy land for a church soon, so please add that to your prayer lists.) Sunday afternoon brought us to Victoria Falls which was SUCH a beautiful sight. It is one of those places that reminds me how big God is and how small I am. But still He loves me.
Keep us in your prayers as this trip wraps up. We've taught at 23 schools and although the teaching is over, we will need our health for our travels back to the U.S.
Monday, July 23, 2018
What a marvelous worship experience! The church was filled with more than half being children. We sang many hymns. Pastor Samson, who is nearly blind opened the service with prayer, after which he remained seated, but he quietly spoke the pastoral portions of the liturgy while Henry, the pastoral assistant, led the service. I was privileged to preach once again on Matthew 11:25-30, pointing out that our greatest treasure is the gospel. I was also privileged to baptize three children--one ten-year-old girl, one eight-year-old girl--her sister, and a small boy of about one year of age. We were also privileged to commune with our brethren--a very special experience. After the service, we went out for Kenyan barbecued goat and came home to relax before our final day in Mois Bridge. May the Lord continue to bless the work!
Sunday, July 22, 2018
Saturday, July 21, 2018
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Friday, July 20, 2018
On our way to the first school, we crossed a bridge over the Zambezi river and got to see a whole swarm of elephants, as well as a few baboons.
Looking forward to the coming weekend when we'll get to go on a safari and see Victoria Falls!
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Thursday, July 19, 2018
Yesterday we taught to two groups of children outside of the home of some Christians we are connected with. They had gathered about 30-40 children for us, many of them Muslim.
During our lesson, we could hear the Muslim call to prayer beginning around the neighborhood. It's a sound we've gotten used to here, but never has it been so close to us. It was coming from a loudspeaker, seemingly just a few houses away.
As I sat there listening to my fellow Christians try to raise their voices over the loudspeaker, it seemed like the speaker would just become louder and louder. Like Satan was actively trying to drown out our message of truth to these innocent children with false teachings.
I hope and I pray that our message will remain in the hearts of these children as they go forward in life, and that they can use the little crosses that we gave them as witnessing tools to their friends.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
We thanked our gracious hosts for everything they have done for us the past 3 days and left the lovely mountain scenery. We drove 3 1/2 hours southeast to the town of Korogwe. After eating a hearty lunch (they feed us well) at our hotel's restaurant, we drove another 2 hours to a church in Muheza Tanga. We split the children into two groups and taught them outside since inside was too small. We taught 60 kids all about the grace of God. After lessons we gave the children the cross necklaces (which they all LOVE by the way) and candy.
Seeing those kids' smiling faces makes every bump and change of plans along this trip worth it. I thank God everyday for this opportunity He has given me and my fellow mission helpers to spread His Word.
We return to our hotel tonight ready to take much needed showers (we haven't showered in 3 days) and have some rest.
Thank you to everyone who is praying for our safety and health along this trip. It is much appreciated!
Today we went to two schools around Lusaka in a different village. We also had an opportunity to play with the local kids as well. I taught them the hokey pokey. Four young girls, who are pictured here, held onto my hands continuously. We ran into a charity group from Ireland, who were as surprised as we were to see other white people. Some other girls asked me to sing a song for them, and I asked for one in return. We leave Lusaka tomorrow morning for Livingstone. Then more teaching until we return to Lusaka.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
We are all feeling very blessed to be here and are looking forward to our continued teaching opportunities here in Tanzania.
Monday, July 16, 2018
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Greetings from Team Tanzania! This morning, we were up bright and early, ready to move on to our next location after being in Moshi for four nights. The bells that ring at 5:30am outside our building were a welcomed alarm clock today, as opposed to previous days where we could have used a little less commotion that early in the morning.
Today our plan is to drive an hour or so south to a village called Mwanga, which means city of light. I am told we will attend a church service when we get there where Pastor Jeremiah, who has been with us since landing in Tanzania, will deliver a sermon. We will then continue on to Tanga.
This is my first mission trip and my first time out of the country, as it is for many of us. We have gotten into the habit of asking each other for a "feelings check" to see how our fellow mission helpers are adapting to these different circumstances we are in. Personally, I find myself constantly being thankful for the little things that make me smile here - the sun peaking out of the clouds after a morning rain, little children grasping my fingers and resting their head on my arm, evening Bible studies with Todd and our group, speaking with pastors here and their hopes for future churches and schools, and the many moments we as mission helpers have laughed and gotten to know each other.
We've had a few bumps in the road so far, literally and figuratively, but we have seen the Lord's hand in our work here. I pray that He will continue to be with us, and I want to thank all of you who are praying for our safety and continued health.
- Leah Mackensen
Saturday, July 14, 2018
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Friday, July 13, 2018
Today was our first day at a school - St. David's Kinship Academy. We were greeted with a warm welcome! After formal introductions and performances they did for us, we took a break and went outside. I was giving the children high fives and shaking their hands. I squatted down to get at their eye level and all of a sudden I had 20-30 kids feeling my hair. They thought that was pretty funny. They laughed really hard when I swung my ponytail side to side. They sang songs and even danced for us today. It was so cool!!! Nolting taught the teachers today. Quade taught a lesson on creation today. While he did that with one group, the rest of us taught songs to the other group. Today we did Jesus Loves Me, The B-I-B-L-E, and This little light of mine. To top it off we taught them the Hokey Pokey and If You're Happy And You Know it. We even had visitors hanging in the windows today (kids from the village that are not students at that school). I pray the Lord used that as a opportunity to witness. We all had a fun time. Balloons were a big hit today but also a learning experience to find a better way to distribute things. I'll take the blame for that one. We had lunch with Pastor Enosh and his wife and two of the male teachers. The teachers had a really good time taking pictures with my camera today and we all enjoyed volleying around a soccer ball while the students went home for lunch.
The landscape is very green. There are fields of sugar cane, tea, banana trees, corn, a special type of grass for the cows, etc. While there is A LOT of plant life, you don't see many colors other than yellow flowers and orange flowers that grow on a tree.
Motorcycles are common transportation. They are called borda borda (border border) and I'm not sure if I spelled that right. I'm learning more and more Swahili every day but not really sure how to spell most of it. We drive on the "wrong" side of the road and no dotted lines are needed on the roads for permission to pass....they do that freely and often. We are all exhausted from a super fun, exciting, blessed day. God is good. All the time. That's all for now.
Greetings from Team Tanzania! We arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport around 7pm on Wednesday evening (about 11am Central time), and drove a short ways to the town of Moshi where we will be staying the first few nights of our trip. After a long couple days of traveling, it feels great to be able to settle in, even if it's just for a few days. So far we have been acclimating ourselves to the surroundings, exchanging money and meeting some of the district pastors.
Today, we will be traveling a few hours and teaching for at least one church. I am very anxious and excited to meet more brothers and sisters in Christ and work with the kids.
Please pray for continued support for our team. Although we've remained in good spirits, we have been battling some sickness. And please pray that our words today will reach the hearts of the children, that their faith might be renewed and strengthened through our visits.
(Picture: Mt Kilimanjaro from our last plane. So far it has been too cloudy to see it from the ground.)
Thursday, July 12, 2018
I did some quick estimating and found that since Sunday (4 days ago, or 96 hours ago) I have been flying for about 19 of those hours and riding in a car or van for about 11 of them!
The weather has been comfortable here for our first day of teaching. Team Zambia headed out after a filling breakfast to six schools to teach and give out gifts. The students and teachers were very welcoming, as was everyone we've met this trip. Our story follows the 7 C's of the Bible as taught by Answers in Genesis. My story is Noah's ark and the Tower of Babel. I was nervous for my first lesson, but by the end of the day, I felt more comfortable. The children loved handshakes, pictures, and feeling my hair (it's soft, I guess). Afterward, we ate at the Hungry Lion, a chicken place, much to Pastor Ibrahim's chagrin. Currently we are relaxing and using the WiFi for messaging, phone calls, and blogging!
It is very humbling to teach here, but I submerge myself in the culture. We reached about 300 souls, many of whom were familiar with the lessons, but not any less excited to meet us. Tomorrow will be a half day, according to Pastor Ibrahim. And thus ends our first day of seven in Lusaka.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
It was so hard to say goodbye to daughters Maggie and Sammie. I've never left them this long before. I know they'll be ok, but I think the moms out there understand where I'm coming from in not getting to see them for 2.5 weeks. I didn't think it was possible to watch your heart walk away from you in Charlotte and still be able to keep breathing ...but here I am in Dubai....breathing. As I anticipated my departure and visualized goodbyes, I began to second guess myself and going on this trip. I have prayed for strength so many times already. While sitting alone in the airport in Charlotte I got an unprompted text from Lana Strike. I don't personally know her well nor had I expressed to her individually the ache of a mother's heart saying goodbye or how I had been second guessing the decision to go, but the text said, "putting the desire in your heart to share His Word with our fellow believers in Christ overseas was not a mistake." And shortly after I read a message from my brother Chad that included "he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me" Matthew 10:37. It's amazing how our Lord reminds us of His promises and comforts us not only through His Word, but also through our brethren!!! It was exactly what I needed to hear to reassure me of God's plan for me participating in this Mission Helper Trip.
We are settled in our hotel room in Dubai for the night. Our flight was somewhere between 13-14 hours long. Very nice plane with both "stars" in the ceiling and our own tv on the chair in front of us. Upon arrival in Dubai arrangements were made for our complementary hotel stay at Copthorne Airport Hotel where we also ate a buffet style dinner. I'm pretty sure we all found something we liked...I mean let's face it...if I found food that I liked, SURELY everyone else did! :-) It's 10:15pm local time and we will meet at 7am for our ride back to the airport. That's all for now. Thanks for all of your continued prayers!!
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Monday, July 9, 2018
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
|A Dala Dala|
waiting for more passengers in Tanzania
Phil Strike (Okabena, MN)
Carl Strike (Okabena, MN)
Blair Sydow (West Columbia, SC)
Todd Ohlmann (St. Louis, MO)
Carl Reim (Inver Grove Heights, MN)
Jonah Albrecht (Okabena, MN)
Henry Lau (Eau Claire, WI)
Katherine Reim (Eau Claire, WI)
Emma Mueller (Hales Corners, WI)
Leah Mackensen (Hales Corners, WI)
Lydia Albrecht (Hales Corners, WI)
Olivia Albrecht (Hales Corners, WI)