Monday, March 23, 2015

Teaching at Church, School, Businesses, and Homes

Arusha Youth Seminars

     This month I've been teaching the youth from the Arusha Church of Christ every Saturday afternoon.  They wanted to be taught about the church so we've been focusing on some things that make the churches of Christ unique.  They plan to study about various denominations in the coming months, and wanted to start with a good grounding in what the New Testament church is.  We've borrowed a lot of thoughts from Dan Chambers' excellent book, "Churches in the Shape of Scripture."  Check it out if you haven't read it yet, and you'll be blessed by it.  

1st Quarter Comes to an End

     At the Andrew Connally School of Preaching our first quarter has come to an end.  One or two new students realized that they couldn't handle the workload in English, so they will try again to be a part of next year's Swahili class.  We fully expect the remaining students to be very successful, and have a great tenure with us.  The students will spend the next two weeks in short courses and campaign work, then the next regular quarter will resume.

Njiro Evangelism  

     Things are continuing to go well at the Njiro Chini congregation.  In the pictures below you can see images from some of our recent door to door evangelism.  We stop at homes and businesses alike in search of those who want to discuss the scriptures.  The lady in the shop below asked us question after question in between serving customers.  The housegirl in the bottom-right picture generously spent most of her lunch break with us.  The top-right picture shows my cohorts walking in search of souls willing to be taught about Christ and His church.  As you can see, all in all things are going well and we are busy about the Lord's work,  Mungu ni mwema!  (God is good!)

Daniel Preaching on Sunday Morning at Njiro Chini

Monday, March 16, 2015

Missionary Life: Birthdays Edition

     Celebrating special events such as birthdays, Easter, 4th of July, Christmas, etc. can often be a stressful time for missionaries. These events are times when you would normally be with family and friends. It is difficult not to let the absence of those you love overcloud the fun and excitement of the event itself. 

     March holds 2 important events in our family. Both Abby and Josiah celebrated birthdays this month. My heart aches that our family was not here to celebrate and that they are yet another year closer to life without the safety and confines of our home (wherever we may be at the time.) Abby met a huge milestone turning 13 on the 5th. Can I really be the parent of a teenager already? We celebrated Abby’s big day with a Dr. Who party with just our little family. Abby adores the Dr. Who show and was so excited to play games and have everything decorated around her favorite theme. Josiah turned 4 after seemingly being born just a week ago. He invited 2 friends to his superhero birthday party and we enjoyed playing games, eating cake, and playing. 

     I try to give the children the feel of a big party through printed decorations and fun games. With the absence of family and friends I want to make the day as fun as possible. However, my computer and printer are my main resource as stores here do not have “party gear” and there is no Hobby Lobby for several thousand miles…sigh. But, it is possible to give a fun party in a third world country that is similar to home. 

     Placing first world children in a third world culture can be difficult and confusing in many ways. They struggle to understand so much on a daily basis. Why do they live like that? Where is their car? Do they cook outside? Is their house made of mud? Do they have birthday parties too? Even questions such as “Can we go to chick fil a for my birthday?” or “May I have a little Zurg toy for my birthday?” are difficult knowing there are no fun restaurants here and definitely no quality toys, especially not requested ones! We realize that parties aren’t the most important thing and certainly not toys, but try to keep some semblance of home while living in a place far different. This even brings guilt in your heart of spending money on a party that you know your neighbor could never have. Should I skip the party and give the money to a family in need? I’m not sure I always make the best choices in all areas of missionary life, but as a mommy I feel the need to care for my children as I would if they were in their original home. 

     Please continue to pray for our family to make the best choices we can concerning church, family, and work in the field.

- Tiffany Gaines

Sunday, March 1, 2015


The Mtu wa Mbu Kanisa la Kristo meets here.
     This year we are experimenting with a rotating seminar on Spiritual Disciplines.  Here's how it works.  I have the introductory lesson explaining the concept of how spiritual disciplines work to cause growth in the Christian.  On the first Sunday of each month, I'll present this lesson at a different congregation.  Then over the next 12 weeks preachers from other area congregations will come and present lessons on specific disciplines.  In this manner, the same series will be presented to 13 different congregations in a span of a little more than a year.  I'm excited about the concept, and I think it will be a blessing to the churches here.

     Today we had the pleasure of visiting the Mtu wa Mbu ("Mosquito River") church.  This congregation is a pretty far distance from the house, so we left early in the morning prepared for a long day.   However, this congregation is always so welcoming that we also felt sure that it would be a good day.

     Gasper Julius and his wife Selena did not disappoint.  Gasper, the preacher there, greeted us warmly and made us feel right at home.  This is a rural church so the environment is different from most of the churches that we get to work with.  We enjoyed the change of pace.

     As she has learned to anticipate,  Tiffany was asked if she would be willing to teach the children's class.  She gladly obliged and put her skills to work.  It's not alway easy though.  In the middle of class, Levi (our 2 year old) sees a mongoose outside.  So naturally he runs out the door to investigate.  In the midst of his hot pursuit, Levi falls and skins his hand.  This brings about great weeping, wailing, and general gnashing of teeth.  But never fear, big sister swoops to the rescue and Mom continues class.

     Meanwhile, I am teaching the adult class, then preaching the morning sermon.  Mtu wa Mbu is out in Maasai country, and they have several members who do not speak or understand Swahili.  Therefore, everything that I said had to be translated twice - once into Swahili, and once into Kimasaai.  The lessons were well received, and one young lady decided to be baptized.

Satan was lurking outside, but we were undeterred nonetheless 

Shoes or no shoes, our goal is to save souls.

     As I just mentioned, a girl was going to put on her Lord in baptism.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that the baptistry would have to be filled by hand via a water bucket brigade.  This took about an hour, so we had some time to kill.

     The kids played.  That's Levi in the picture above with his new BFF, Daniel (great name, don't you think?).  They couldn't talk to each other but they played hand and hand all over the grounds.   Ah the sweet innocence of children. 

     Speaking of children, Tiffany was surrounded by them as usual.  She's always had a magic touch with kids.  Our kids are very lucky to such a great mom.  

     At last, there is enough water in the baptistry.  We rejoice with the angels of heaven as Sophia is added to the body of Christ!

     Then the preacher's wife, Selena, feeds us a quick, delicious lunch.  Satisfied, we head off on our way merrily.  Mtu wa Mbu happens to be practically next door to the Lake Manyara National Park.  We haven't been there since we moved to Tanzania, so we decided that we might as well take an afternoon drive through the park.  

     Mtu wa Mbu is the home of the famous red bananas, so we grab some for a snack while we drive.

     The park offered some nice scenery.  And as you can see from the picture, baby monkeys are adorable.  

     After stopping for a snack at the picnic area, we had some car trouble.  It just wouldn't start.  That's not what you want to happen while hanging out in a park where lions live.  A worker suggests that we try to push-start it.  What do we have to lose?  So we push the truck down a hill while trying to start it.  Yeah, that didn't work.  So we flag down a passing safari truck and ask for a jump.   No luck.

     By this point, I'm ready to scream. 

     Then I remember something.  Earlier in the day, one of my children (who shall remain nameless, but she knows who she is) broke the truck key.  There is a security chip in the fob portion of the key that prevents the car from starting without it being near the ignition.  So I just had to hold the remote in my hand while turning the small portion.  It cranked right up, and we're on our way.

I'm just hanging out with my elephant friends.  Roll Tide.
     The drive continues without further problems and we have a pleasant afternoon.   On the way out of the park, Abby notices a guy randomly dancing on the side of the road without any music.  Of course, we crack up at the sight.  Luckily, a camera was handy so we recorded the action.  I've shared it with you below.  Just for fun, I added a little sound track for you.  You're welcome.

     After a long drive home, it is time to eat a snacky supper, and unwind while we watch an Andy Griffith DVD.  That's a great ending to a great day.  The day required a good bit of patience, but we were rewarded with some wonderful experiences.  I hope that your Sunday is a great one as well!