August 2021 – Trips East and West

  Dear Friends and Family,

As usual, we are overdue for an update.  Much has happened in these last few months.  God is faithful and good.  What a joy it is to serve Him here in Tanzania.

TRIP TO WESTERN TZ –  In June we were able to make a long overdue road trip out to western Tanzania to visit our unit members in that part of the country.  Our international director Luke accompanied us for part of that time as well.  First stop, Tabora, where we met with the Andersen’s, Waldock’s, and Hanneke, who serve among the Nyamwezi people.  It was great catching up and hearing about each person’s ministry.  While in Tabora, Jon was able to use his medical skills on a mobile clinic hosted by a church in an outreach village.  He and a Tanzanian doctor saw over 300 patients that day.  The team was made up of AICT Bishop Kezakubi, Luke, the Andersen’s, the local evangelist, and a Tanzanian doctor and some nurses from the town church who volunteered to participate.  Many patients had run of the mill aches and pains but some were quite sick.  It was a neat opportunity for Jon since he isn’t practicing medicine on a regular basis these days.  He would like to do more of this as we travel around to visit missionaries whom we serve in central and western TZ.  During the clinic there were many opportunities for team members to strengthen relationships and share the gospel with local villagers.  Pray for many Nyamwezi to come to faith, and for local pastors and evangelists to be trained effectively.

From there we went on to Mwanza where our church partner’s (Africa Inland Church Tanzania) headquarters are.  We spent the morning in meetings with some of our Tanzanian colleagues and were able to have some profitable discussion, helping us to understand one another better and how to work together in partnership in God’s Kingdom work here in Tanzania.  Then we traveled on to visit some of our other unit members in two different locations, each doing very different kinds of ministry.  One family, Dan and Bethany Tanner, work with orphaned children, overseeing a ministry called Mavuno Village that provides homes and schooling for them as well as running a farm that helps sustain the work.  Pray these young precious children would come to know the Lord as their Heavenly Father.  The other family, Abram and Ashby Kidd,  work in theological education at the location where my (Melissa’s) maternal grandparents worked over 60 years ago, Nassa Theological College.  Pray for them as they train and impact the future leaders of the AICT church here in Tanzania.  This was our first time to visit these two locations and what a blessing to spend time with our friends and colleagues and to see their ministries in action. 

And since it was the most convenient way to get home and we had yet to visit the most famous game park in Tanzania, we spent a few days at a fun tented camp in the Serengeti on our drive back to Arusha.  We did not get see any wildebeest making a river crossing but the large herds were amazing.  We enjoyed spending time together in God’s beautiful outdoors and seeing all kinds of wildlife.  

FAMILY TIME/JOSH TRAVELS EAST TO VISIT US  –  After our return, we had a week to anticipate our kids being home…ALL of them.  Drew and Rachel arrived from school in Kenya on July 8th and Josh flew in from the States for a three week visit on July 9th.  What a special time that was.  We took a trip to the beach and gorgeous views of Kilimanjaro on our return trip.  Drew and Rachel returned back to RVA this past weekend.  There are still some restrictions but they are both glad to be heading back to be with friends and in person school.  Drew is starting his senior year and will be applying to colleges soon.  He is still pursuing aviation and would love to go to LeTourneau University in Texas if possible.  Please pray for this process.  Drew recently got to fly with the MAF pilot here in Arusha, riding ‘shotgun’ the whole time, what a treat.  Rachel is starting high school and is looking forward to being in the high school drama and volleyball.  Josh has just started his second year at Millersville University where classes are back in person.  He just turned 20 this month, wow, time flies! 

COVID DELTA WAVE – We’re currently experiencing an increase in Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths here in Tanzania, likely due to the Delta Variant.  Since the beginning of this month, the government has been faithfully rolling out a supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the general public, and Melissa and I were both able to get the vaccine here, which we’re thankful for.  Please pray for Tanzanians to see the value of getting vaccinated, especially those at higher risk, and pray for comfort and protection for those who’ve lost loved ones. 

UPCOMING TRIP and TRAINING SEMINAR –   Please pray for Pastor Emma Shilikale as he organizes and teaches another Indigenous Leaders Training seminar from September 13th to 26th in Magambua, our old stomping grounds!  Pray for an upcoming trip to Kilwa, on the southern coast of the country, that Melissa and I will take at the end of September to visit missionaries there. 

We have been enjoying getting involved in church and Bible Studies here.  We are studying Romans in our group Bible Study and Melissa is studying the life of Joseph in a ladies Bible Study. We continue to have opportunities to practice hospitality here in Arusha and we keep busy with our role in overseeing 22 adult missionaries and their families in a variety of ministries. Work and resident permits are still a challenge, though we are seeing an easier process for new missionaries coming out.  We will be applying for an exemption from the work permit process as Jon just received a one year final grant (valid until August 2022) which means that unless he is granted an exemption or the laws change, we will be needing to look for a new place to live and work after our next home assignment.

Thank you for your friendship, partnership, prayers and support.  We are in this together.  May the LORD bless you and keep you.

Melissa for all

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