We arrived in Tanzania on Tuesday night and drove from Kilimanjaro International Airport all the way over to Arusha where we are staying with Vernon and Mary Smith. When we arrived at the Smiths home, they had some delicious old fashioned cheeseburgers prepared for us, which tasted amazing after only eating airplane food for the last 24 hours. We finished dinner and spent a little time getting to know one another before heading off to bed for the first night.
Sight Seeing in Arusha
We woke up to a wonderful breakfast on Wednesday. Mamma Bonnie prepared everything from bacon and eggs to fresh fruit and cinnamon rolls. It was a delicious breakfast! After breakfast we got in the car and drove through town. The sights were incredible. It was very similar to what I remember seeing in Togo back in 2001. Everything is built with mud, or cinder block and almost all the roads are dirt, mud, or paved with pot holes. We drove to the bank and then drove through a little neighborhood to get to their ministry campus.
Tour BBA and Medical Clinic
We drove through these windy little dirt roads, taking several turns, driving past many little snack stores and barbers and other general merchandise stores to get to the campus of BBA, Bible Baptist Academy. The Smiths have a fantastic ministry here in Arusha. They have been involved in the establishment of a great school, which goes from preschool all the way through 7th grade. We were able to meet the great team of faculty and administration and then tour the campus. This school is such an incredible sight.
The structure itself is quite impressive, but the ministry that they are accomplishing is even more wonderful. This is a Christian School that is providing the best education in town. This school has many students and it has many others who would like to attend but are on waiting lists. The students who do attend are trained from the word of God. These children are learning Bible songs, they are learning to memorize scripture and they are learning about the gospel. The lives of these young people and their families are being impacted daily through this wonderful ministry.
I see this ministry and I immediately think of how awesome my wife would be at serving in a ministry opportunity like this one. I know that she has a gift to teach and an incredible gift for organizing and administration and I cant help but think that God could use us greatly together to reach and minister to families through something like this.
Next we walked to another part of their facilities where they have a medical clinic. As we walked up through the waiting room, there were people everywhere. We were able to walk around the see the facilities. We met everyone from the nurses to the administrative staff, all the way to the pharmacist and doctor. The amazing thing is that every one of the staff members at the medical clinic go to the Smith’s church on the campus. And most of them are highly involved in leadership and service in their church.We walked back over the school and church and had some morning tea which they make for everyone each day. It was an extremely herbal tea with black pepper in it. It made for a unique flavor with a good bite of spice to it.
The school, church, and medical clinic were thoroughly impressive. The like changing fruit produced from each of these ministries were very obvious. I was immediately burdened to be involved in serving in a ministry like this.
Wednesday Night Church
On Wednesday night we went back to church for the mid week service. Things started with music, and it was some great music. Many of the school staff that I had met that morning were involved in leading the worship service. This was the small service of the week, and there were more than 100 people in attendance. It was so exciting to be a part of. Earlier in the day I was asked if I would sing a song during the evening service, I agreed and asked what to sing. I was told to sing anything about missions, so I decided to sing a song called: “I Will Follow” by Chris Tomlin. I met with the band a little bit before the service and ran through the song about three times, and they figured it out quickly! In fact, several of the band members were singing along with me because they had been familiar with the song. The service began, We sand and worshipped for quite a while before I got up with the band and sang a special. Then Jon got up and spoke about the great work of missions going on around the world, and encouraged the church to keep up the good work, and keep doing more for missions. Can you imagine that. We are on “the mission field” doing a missions conference, encouraging this wonderful church to support and send more missionaries around the world. Absolutely Incredible.
Dinner with the Doctor
After dinner, we walked across the street to the doctors home. He and his family provided a wonderful meal for us. We had cokes, and other drinks, chicken that tasted amazing, French fries, fresh pineapple, and a bunch of other yummy things. We were going through crazy jet lag at the time, but the food made it bearable. We were exhausted and so we didn’t stay long, we enjoyed the food and a little fellowship before running back home and diving in bed.
March 13, 2014, this is a day I will never forget. It was Wills birthday, and here is what I did to celebrate! J
Dirt Biking Safari
We got up and left the house around 7:30. We had about a 2 hour drive ahead of us, and Chris and I were offered the chance to ride with a different missionary. Steve Burkholder, missionary to Tanzania was in the area and so we rode to the excursion with him. It was a great opportunity to meet another missionary and hear about the great things going on in his ministry. One of my favorite things that he told us about what his “Timothy Ministry”, this is a ministry where he is investing into young men who have been cast out by their families. He is pouring his life into these young men, mentoring them and training them to be disciples of Christ. His long term plan and prayer is that God would call many of these young men to be his future preachers in many of his different church plants. It sounded like an incredible ministry with many different creative elements to provide funding and great accountability for them.
After two hours we arrived to this little town on the side of the road where there were 6 dirt bikes parked on the side of the road. Vernon scheduled a dirt bike company to bring their bikes to this one point out in the middle of nowhere. We put on the dirt bike gear and then took off on our adventure. For the next 5 hours we rode all over the African plains, through the bush, chasing animals and traversing some incredible terrain. We were able to chase everything from packs of wild Zebra to Gazelle, many Wildebeest and even a few warthogs and ostriches and other birds. We saw incredible termite mounds and several incredible hills and jumping spots.
This was my first time to ever ride a dirt bike, and I had no clue what I was doing, however, I picked it up pretty quick. These guys gave me almost no instruction other than showing me where to change the gear and something about 1 up and 4 down. Then they took off, and it was up to me to figure out how this thing works. Within about 10 minutes, I was in love… as long as I didn’t have to stop. It took me a little bit longer to get good at stopping and then starting again.
There were several different times while I was on the dirt bike that time seemed to slow down for a moment. I felt like I was watching the Zebras in slow motion thinking to myself, what in the world am I doing right now. This was definitely one of the coolest things that I have ever experienced in my life. In fact, while I was riding I kept thinking to myself, at the end of my life, if someone asks me what were 5 of the most exciting adventures that you were able to do, this would be near the top of that list. It was absolutely indescribable to ride all around the African plain, to see the animals, to see the Masai warriors as they herded their cows, goats, and sheep. To see their mud huts and their little children playing all while on a powerful dirt bike. It was unforgettable and amazing.