On Easter we got the treat of seeing another brother baptized. Our friend Mohammed is part of the "village bank" program here, a group of clients from the Home Based Care program who work together in a small business. Their business is dying batik fabrics, and they're getting really good. (I love my red and brown with hints of green batik skirt.) Mohammed was Muslim when he joined the group, but over the course of the past few months, he's come to a faith in Jesus. There are many Muslims here who are sympathetic to Christianity, and some are even secret believers, but fear to publicly confess their love of Jesus because of the probable repercussions from their family and friends. Mohammed decided to become an open disciple, and was baptized on Easter. He's one of my favorite people to see around the church because he is so friendly and kind. One day I met him at the house of one of the other clients. He had walked into town to get her prescription filled for her because she was too sick to go herself. When a Muslim is baptized here, they choose a "Christian" name to replace their Muslim name, so our friend Mohammed is now called Japhet.
We have been gaining more and more sponsors for our Tanzania program, and we got permission to add an additional five kids to the program. The first official day of program was last week for the new kids (watoto wapya), and we are so excited to have them around! Already they are jumping into the games and choir, and they wrote their first ever letter to a sponsor. Many of them are still needing sponsors, including two sets of identical twins. Aleni and Alecksi Mathias are the four year old sons of an HIV+ father, and are just starting nursery school. They do everything, including go to the bathroom, together and are adorable! Kulwa and Dotto Mombo are about age 10, and are true orphans, meaning that they've lost both parents. They've never attended school, and are not very good yet at socializing with the other kids. We are really excited to have all these new kids in our program!
Last Friday we had a special Easter program for the kids here, and wow, what a crazy day. We didn't meet the Friday before, because it was Good Friday, a holiday, so we had a double food budget to spend for special food and soda for the kids. We did a teaching on Easter, then gave prizes for the children who could answer questions. After the teaching, the kids wrote Easter greetings to their sponsors. Their reward for finishing the letter was a soda, then they got to eat special pilau rice and meat. Then we used the many balloons (mapulizo) sent by Leah's Aunt Linda (hi, Aunt Linda!) to play games with the children who are not in the choir. First we did a back-to-back relay, then a waddling relay, then you had to run down and pop the balloon by sitting on it. The small children aren't quite heavy enough, and they kept bouncing back up off the balloon, so I would reach under them and pop the balloon with my fingernails, which made for some odd looking photos! They had a fantastic time, as did Leah and Mama and I!