In English the title means “Praise the Lord.” Those were some of the first words we learned in Swahili on our mission trip to Tanzania. I wish that all of you reading this summary could have gone with us to see, smell, taste, touch, and hear all of the experiences the Lord brought to us on our conference tour.
Our first conference was in a little village called USA (that’s right) near the city of Arusha, Tanzenia where we were staying. Wooden benches and a small cement building housed about 25 women and many children who came to see the Magdalena film and listen to our words about returning to joy even when hard things happen to us. On the last day several pastors decided to join us as well. Taking the theme of the different women who interacted with Jesus in the film, we assigned the people to small groups for the week where they could sing, dance, create a drama, or use art work to practice the principles taught in the conference. Everyone needs: A Place to belong, a place to give and receive, and a place to work through trauma were the main truths that were given and then paralleled with the women in the film. We were so amazed at how the people applied Biblical and counseling information and made it a perfect fit into their life experiences and culture. We left after 3 days of teaching with many of the children in the village running after our car and shouting “Wngooza! Wngooza!” which means “white person” in Swahili. The joy was visceral and we knew that the Lord had met all of us there with His Holy Spirit with more joy and love than we could have ever anticipated. We thought it couldn’t get any better.
But you know how that goes…just when you think something can’t get any better? It does. At least when you are serving the Lord. We arrived in Dar es Salaam Tanzania to give our second conference. Although there were plastic chairs (we have found that you can find plastic chairs in most countries) we were once again in a very humble cement block building. However, the level of joy and worship was already ahead of us when we drove in. People were dancing and singing praise to the Lord even as we were setting up for the conference. Our teaching and theme were the same but we had about 90 people in attendance. To our surprise, over half of the people were men. Many of them were pastors, Bishops or deacons of their churches. It was boisterous as they completely entered in to each practice session with excitement and full participation. When it was time for the general sessions to resume we had a hard time getting them to stop talking!
There are many colleagues who do great work as first responders to physical needs after disasters. We have dear friends in ministries that bring much medical attention to the poor. There are organizations who take teams to people who are starving and thirsty. We support and thank God for them. As we partnered with those from Bringing Hope2others we were amazed at the medical, construction work, and resources they gave to help the people of Tanzania. We even had the privilege of teaming with members of Youth with a mission (YWAM) who shipped an ambulance for the people to use as a mobile clinic.
All this being said, we were blessed beyond boundaries to get to know not only the people of Tanzanian but the people on the team we joined. But please give me a moment more of your time.
Sometimes people ask us, “What exactly do you do when you go travel?” Great question. We join with the Lord to bring healing. Perhaps not to people’s physical needs, but to the soul places where they are starving and thirsty for Biblical counsel. We ask God to touch wounds that have never been dressed with the balm of His word or the truth of the gospel. We construct stairways and rooms and buildings of emotional safety where they can go after we have gone, to meet with their community and their Lord to continue to heal those wounds. We use the vehicle of the conferences and the personal prayer and counseling appointments as our own mobile clinic of sorts, and when they come we believe they meet the Great Physician, who knows and cares for their deepest needs. “Returning People To Joy” is what we believe God has called us to do. Thank you to each of you for your partnership of prayers and financial support to help us minister healing and truth.