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Tanzanian Mission 2009

In July 2009, Saint Andrew's sent a group of eight ambassadors to Tanzania, East Africa, to serve at the MaaSae Girls Lutheran Secondary School (MGLSS). Saint Andrew’s has a 10 year relationship with MGLSS through the support of our members, Jean and Marv, who are serving as missionaries at the school. The ambassadors also visited Selelah Lutheran Church and Selian Lutheran Hospital's Plaster House. 

Here is their story:
Your ambassadors have returned from Tanzania. All returned safely. No one was eaten by a lion or even mildly mauled by a cape buffalo. The experience was amazing. In preparation, our goal was to be the most blessing that we could be. On returning, we realize that we have been the most blessed through the experience.

The goals of this project were to provide support to the people of Tanzania in three areas. These were Selelah Lutheran Church that needed materials for a roof on their new building, Selian Lutheran Hospital’s Plaster House that provides care and therapy for kids who have had orthopedic surgery and the MaaSae Girls Lutheran Secondary School. We (Saint Andrew’s members and friends) provided financial support to all three. We (the travelers) spent time at the girl’s school and visited both Selelah church and the Plaster House. We have so many stories to tell, sometimes it is hard to know where to start. Here is an update on each of those projects.

Selelah Lutheran Church:
On Sunday, July 12, we visited Selelah Lutheran Church and attended worship service there. When we drove up to the church, we were greeted by the choir as we got out of the Land Cruisers. They sang to greet us. The choir jumped and "danced" with the rhythm. They got a number of us to join in moving to the rhythm. This greeting of songs continued for several songs before we proceeded into the church for worship.

The worship service was held in the old (small) church. It was very crowded, but warm and welcoming. Pastor Nangole presided and conducted the service (including the sermon) in two languages: Swahili and English. During the service, we presented the congregation with $3000 for their roof. Pastor Nangole sends a message for Saint Andrew’s. He said: "When you go back to your congregation, give them our greetings in the name of Jesus. Tell them, We love you! We will not forget you. We will keep on praying for you that God may give you enough, as you are working and you are healing to others."

Next, they honored Saint Andrew’s in a most amazing way. One by one, each of the ambassadors of Saint Andrew’s was called up in front of the congregation. While the choir sang, each member of the team was dressed in traditional Maasai dress. Debbie commented afterwards, "I’ve never felt so honored".

After the service they served us a lunch of roasted goat. We presented them a banner to commemorate the partnership between Saint Andrew’s and Selelah. The banner reads "Lord of All". This is an experience that will not be forgotten. We look forward to seeing a picture of their new church with a roof.

The Plaster House:

On Friday, July 17, we visited Selian’s brand new hospital in Arusha called the Arusha Lutheran Medical Center (ALMC) and then we went on to the Plaster House. Sarah Wallis was our guide for the visits. She is an occupational therapist from Melbourne, Australia and is the director of the Plaster house. The Plaster House is in a remote area with very poor roads (if you can call them roads). When we got to the plaster house, the kids recognized Sarah’s vehicle. We could hear them chanting "Sarah, Sarah, Sarah…" They really love Sarah. And Sarah really loves these kids.

Many of the kids greeted us as we came through the gate. Those were the ones able to get around. Next we toured the rooms to meet and visit with kids confined to beds. One of the boys confined to a bed had legs described as cork screw legs because they were so curved and unusable. He was scheduled to have his surgery the next Monday.

We brought many donated gifts to "Sarah’s kids". We gave each of the kids a beanie baby. This brought out many smiles. The kids loved their beanie babies and to get their picture taken with their new friend. Then they were eager to see the picture on the digital cameras. After a while we distributed to the mobile kids some folding frisbees. They had a great time flinging these around, trying to catch them, and then hobbling after the frisbees when they missed. The rest of the gifts were put away for a later time.

The Plaster House is now renting the buildings that they are currently using. They have acquired property in a much more convenient location. They are raising funds to build a larger facility on this property. Saint Andrew’s members and friends contributed $5000 to support the work of the Plaster House. This is an incredible place. And it allows the hospital to be able to provide reconstructive surgery to kids living in the remote villages of northern Tanzania.

MaaSae Girls Lutheran Secondary School:

We spent most of our time at the school. We were welcomed so very warmly by the girls, by the staff and by Jean and Marv. Our time at the school was a combination of working on projects that would help the school and spending time with the form 3 girls in conversation and bible study. The goals of this conversation time were to help the girls with their English and to build some relationships. And along the way to have some fun and play some games.

Each weekday at the school began with morning chapel at 7:10 (6:50 on Mondays) followed by breakfast. The student’s day started earlier, with exercise and breakfast before chapel. After breakfast, we went to work on our various projects. Kurt and Dick worked on repairing the roof on the entry to the chapel. Sue and Cheryl repaired curtains and then proceeded to make new curtains for the girl’s dorms. Debbie, Becky and Joanna cleaned and organized the library. 10:40 a.m. was chai time. We had chai with the staff in the teacher’s lounge. After chai, more project time. Lunch was at 2:40, also in the teacher’s lounge. We had our conversation groups and Bible study from 3:30 to 5:00. Evening vespers were at 5:30 and then dinner.

The donated gifts that we brought included red sweatshirts for the new form 1 class (part of school uniform), leg warmers (it is winter and the girls are cold), toothbrushes, vitamins and many school supplies. We also brought a number of laptop computers. One will be used by the head of school; one for the academic department and the rest will go to girls as they go on to university or college. Saint Andrew’s members and friends contributed $5000 to support the school. The head of school told us that the number one issue at the school is water. The school is not getting water as we know from Marv and Jean’s newsletters. They would like to use the money from Saint Andrew’s to help solve the water issue. But, as of yet, there is no good plan to solve this problem.

This school is a wonderful place. It provides a safe place for these girls to learn and gives the girls a real opportunity for their lives. The girls are going on to make a very real difference for their families and in their villages. We were treated so very well there!

Kitumbeine’s Beading Mamas:

Kitumbeine is a small village north of the girls school. It is an area where a number of the students live. It is an area hit by famine this year due to the drought conditions. We took a trip to Kitumbeine and visited Bethany and Steve Friberg, missionaries there.

Bethany coordinates a project with about 50 Maasai women that allows these women to support themselves and their children. A traditional Maasai craft is creating jewelry with tiny seed beads. Bethany has worked with these women to develop a series of items that they can make well. She has taught them to make high quality items and to keep them clean as they make them. She has helped them focus on products that will sell. These women are called the beading mamas.

They sell some of the jewelry right in Kitumbeine (our group bought quite a bit). But, this is not a tourist spot. Bethany sells most of the jewelry outside Kitumbeine, most of it when she comes to the states. The women get paid for the products that they make. The project provides savings accounts so that the women can save part of their income for when they might have larger expenses. They can "borrow" from their accounts and pay it back when they can. Bethany’s biggest challenge is being able to get the product sold. That is why she focuses on products that will sell.

We have brought back a good supply of these beading mamas’ bead work. This jewelry will be available for a very reasonable donation, and all money will go to support the beading mamas and their children.

Look for more stories from Tanzania. Ask us about our experiences. We look forward to going back again. Joanna, Becky, Debbie, Dick, Cheryl, Beth, Sue, and Kurt 


Note: Tanzania is one of the ten poorest countries in the world. It is a little bigger than Texas with a few more million than California. We spent most of our time among the Maasai, a very traditional tribe, with the majority resisting modernization and continuing semi-nomadic pastoralism.

Time in Tanzania