Face to Face

Lord willing I will be in Tanzania by the time this goes up for reading. I return at least once a year and sometimes twice. Every trip is different depending on the situation, location and people traveling with me. This year’s trip is shaping up to be a little different. I’m excited about the possibilities.

I arrive in Dar Es Salaam around 10pm and will exit the airport around 11pm hoping to see someone holding up a sign with my name on it (usually misspelled). He takes me to a Christian guest house where I have stayed many times. I will probably be tired enough to sleep though my body clock will be thoroughly messed up by then. The next morning the driver will take me back to the airport to fly up to Mwanza on an airline called Fast Jet – and they really are fast! They are fairly new in Tanzania and cheap. They started with one jet but they might have two or maybe three now.

In Mwanza, where we used to live and work, I will stay with one of the wonderful missionary families serving there. They host me every time and are so nice. I will spend that first day catching up on the news and getting ready for the days to come.

I have a plan for the week but it always gets changed – that’s the way it is in Africa. However there are certain things I always do: visit my closest national leaders, preach on Sundays, visit and speak to selected churches or church clusters, meet with groups of church leaders, drive on bumpy roads, and eat a lot of rice with small fish (minnows) and some chicken!

I also have 4 somewhat unique jobs this year. The first is sure to be sad. Urbano Hoja, one of my oldest and best friends from the very beginning of the work, died recently. I must visit his grave and home for perhaps the last time. He was a great Christian leader who lived a full life. I will also be searching for a location to drill life giving water wells. We recently raised money in our WALK4WATER fundraiser so I am meeting with missionaries and nationals about a place for a well or wells to be drilled in the Mwanza area. Third I will be talking with missionaries about the possible service opportunities for my friend Lazaro who will soon finish clinical officer training school. He is also a preacher and church planter. I am excited about the possibilities. Lastly I am looking for ways that future groups can be used in short term trips.

Michele will join me on May 31 and we will visit and check up on the Fisherfolks Clinic on the coast. After that we come back to Dar and then last, but certainly not least, we get to see, hold and play with our new grandson, Theo and visit their parents, David and Audrey and our daughter Jennifer who will be coming from Nairobi.

All the scheduled activities are important but the relationships are most important. The apostle John had much to write about in 2 John but only wrote a short letter because what he really wanted to do was visit and encourage them with joy face to face. When I go Tanzania I get to see friends, church leaders and members, missionaries, and my family – face to face. I leave you with Philippians 1:25-26. It conveys what I would like each mission trip to be all about.
25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

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