During our trip to Kigoma, we have encountered all kinds of people. Many, of course, are from Kigoma, while others come from Europe or the states. It has been a blessing to meet so many persons who want to make a difference for Christ.
Several of the persons we have met are from Germany. Needless to say, I was surprised. However, once we began to converse it soon became apparent why they are here and what they are doing. Some, of course, are with the Lutheran Church in Germany. There is a strong Lutheran mission here in Kigoma. Others are working through the German government as part of Germany's extensive social service program. In Germany, following high school, a young person must spend one to two years in some kind of military or social service. Many young people travel abroad to work. The young people I have gotten to know while in Kigoma have completed high school and are now teaching in an Anglican secondary school, providing instruction in English, math, and science, to the children of Kigoma. It is very difficult work. A typical classroom, for example, has sixty students with only one teacher!
Slava is the name of one of the young person I met the other day. Slava was actually born in Russia, but his family is German. He is Pentecostal and has spent some time in a Pentecostal seminary south of Frankfurt. Next year upon returning to Germany he wants to attend university in Bonn to study theology and church history.
To be sure, Slava and I had a wonderful conversation. We spoke about discerning God's will and direction in life and understanding the life of the mind and heart. We also spent time discussing Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Slava had a copy of Bonhoeffer's famous book Life Together; it is the book Bonhoeffer wrote when he was directing the underground seminary in Finkewalde during World War II. It was great to see a young person so passionate about living the Christian life. I hope we will stay in contact.
Late on Tuesday afternoon, the four of us went to a small beach outside of Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika. There, we took some time to unwind. We also met two young Mennonite missionaries. In fact, one of the missionaries, Josh, went to school at Goshen College! Small world! Josh has been in Tanzania for two years, working primarily in the large urban areas. It was good to speak with him. Unfortunately, his church in the states has cut off his support, so he will need to return to the states next month. However, as he shared with us, he will hopefully find another church to undergird his ministry. God will certainly open a new door!
(As we have learned, this kind of thing happens a great deal on the mission field in Africa. Many missionaries lose support. It is unfortunate, but it is also why we need to keep in contact with missions like Joy in the Harvest to learn what it is doing.)
Both of these young people represent a slice of the 'people pie' in Tanzania. Words cannot describe the whole picture. To be sure, we have met many more. However, when we return, we will definitely want to share about our experiences and the other people we encountered. It has been nothing less than a rewarding and life-changing trip.