Tuesday, November 26, 2013


The small boy in the picture above is on his way to the village water supply to get water for his family's daily needs.  Water is a very basic need for human survival.  His family may boil and drink it or they may use it to wash clothes or for other hygienic needs.  When he gets to the water supply, this is what he finds:

Many other villagers are gathered around waiting to collect water from the public source, which is only turned on during certain times of the week.  They'll come with push carts and buckets to get as much as they can carry.  Even for those who have running water in their houses there is a shortage right now.

As I pass by this scene about a mile or so from our home I am reminded of the encounter that Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well.  That woman had similarly come for the tedious, but essential task of collecting water.  There Jesus offers her "living" water:
Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."   John 4:13-14
The woman perhaps imagines something as glorious as a typical American water faucet that spews forth an abundance of clean, drinkable water on demand.  At the very least she would love to be relieved of this burdensome task.  She responds by saying "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw."  Through further teaching she would come to understand that the spiritual water that Jesus provides is even more essential and satisfying than the physical water she was seeking.

As I watch men, women, and children going to collect water, I reflect upon the living water that they need most.  I am reminded of the greatness of Christ's gift and the importance of our mission.  Let's all do what we can to point spiritually thirsty people toward Jesus.


Sunday, November 24, 2013


     Today I had the opportunity to preach at the Kisongo congregation.  This is the church that is located adjacent to the school of preaching so there were lots of preaching students present.  This provides a more biblically knowledgeable audience than is sometimes available.   
     Randy Pyle and Tom Brandon from the Meridianville congregation in northern Alabama arrived late last night to teach a short course here this week.  We enjoyed hearing Tom teach Bible class this morning.  We're looking forward to getting to know them a little better this week.
    Speaking of Bible class, Abigail Gee taught the children's class today.  I think you'll enjoy this clip of Josiah and his classmates singing Jesus Love Me in Swahili  (see if you can pick out Josiah in the crowd...):

In Tanzania everyone greets everyone else at the end of services.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Today we had the opportunity to attend the annual Arusha Community Fair.  This is a huge event for the community and was a nice opportunity to interact with a lot of people.  The church had a booth set up and was distributing free Bible study materials.

It also was a great chance to sample local fair and shop for crafts.  Coincidentally, it was Tiffany's birthday.  I claimed that I had called ahead and arranged the fair in her honor.  She may or may not have believed me...
It even offered our kids their opportunity to see Santa Claus in Africa.  He may not have been exactly what we would have found in an American mall, but hey, this is Africa!    :)

Friday, November 15, 2013


Today we took a trip out to beautiful Monduli, just down the road a little way, to see Tanzania Christian Clinic.  This is a clinic run by Dr. Smeltzer from Florence, AL.  Our coworker, Stephanie Stafford, does volunteer work as a nurse there a few days each week.  We feel very fortunate to have an American doctor close enough to provide regular care for our family.  

Tanzania Christian Clinic
Tiffany and the boys meet Dr. Smeltzer

Tiffany was also excited to meet Penina, a Tanzanian midwife

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Last Friday night we put the finishing touches on our packing.  We then went to bed with our hearts and minds filled with a wide variety of thoughts and emotions.  Over the next few days we would leave family and familiar behind and move to the other side of the world.  We had been planning the journey for what seemed like an eternity, and now it was finally here.

(It took 3 vehicles (Janie's, Bambi's, and Jared's) to get all of us and our stuff to the airport.)

Saturday we went to the airport and said our goodbyes.  

(Kids, the device in the background is called a payphone.  They were once quite common)

Finally back at the gate we sat to wait for the plane. Out of caution we had given ourselves an abundance of time, so now it was time to make a couple of toddlers wait in the airport for a couple of hours.  Fortunately, God was already looking out for us.  Just as the boys were getting restless we found a playground inside the airport just a little way from out gate!  What a relief it was for the boys to get to burn a little energy!

 After 12 hours in the air and plenty of time in airports, we were glad to have an overnight layover in Istanbul.  This gave us a chance to relax, recharge, and regroup a little bit.

(There's nothing like gorging on Halloween candy after a long day of flying!)

It also gave us the chance to see a few sights as we stretched our legs.  The hotel was within walking distance of some beautiful and historically rich scenery. Such as the famous "Blue Mosque":

And the Hagia Sophia:

Then it was time to check-in for the final leg of our journey.  Moving a family of 5 take A LOT of luggage!  I thought you might enjoy seeing the mountain of stuff that we had to keep up with during this trip:

Relieved to have most of our travel logistics behind us, we took one more 8-hour flight to get to our new home.

We landed in Tanzania a little after 3:00 a.m. and our teammates, Cy and Jimmy, were there waiting to pick us up.  Our son, Josiah, proclaimed, "It's Afka!  I finally found it!"  All in all the trip went about as well as we possibly could have hoped.  The babies were great, logistics went smoothly enough, and we were safe and sound. God has taken good care of us so far.  I can wait to see what he has planned for us next!