05 March 2013

There and back again

I didn't have a chance to update last week because of my crazy life, but here's what's going on in the Otieno household!
Wesley and Fred on the bus
Last week Wesley and I went to visit our Tanzanian partners, so we were traveling from Sunday until yesterday.  Although Wesley is still a trooper on the long bus rides and sleeping in strange beds and missing Daddy, it has become much harder to travel with him now that he's walking.  He really wants to get down and run around, and when we're on the bus for the eighth consecutive hour, he reaches the end of his long-suffering patience.  Even so, we had a good time seeing a bunch of friends and making some new ones.

"Babu" Bishop teaching Wesley to drive

The first place we went was Shinyanga, the home of Path of Hope, Lahash's newest partner.  Path of Hope is the ministry of the Shinyanga Diocese of the Tanzania Mennonite Church, and is headed by Bishop Joseph and Jeanette Nyakyema.  I think I've talked about them before, but our family feels a particular connection to the Nyakyemas because the Bishop is a Luo (like Fred) and Jeanette is an American (like me).  They married a bit later in life and don't have children of their own, although they care for several of their many nieces and nephews, including Christopher, who is 10 years old.  Wesley has a great time at their home, because they are like grandparents to him and Christopher makes a great playmate.  I also have a great time at their home because I really like the Bishop and Jeanette, and we have very encouraging and enlightening conversations together.  Although they've been serving in the church for several decades, they are still very humble and want more than anything to see the Gospel preached and the church strengthened.  I love our times together.

Wesley looking out the bus window near Dodoma
The next place we went was Dodoma to visit friends at Grace and Healing Ministry, as well as the Angotes.  The time in Dodoma was so brief, but we got to visit the children at the main campus (100 kids) and the children (25 kids) at the expanded chapter out in Ipagala, one of the suburbs of Dodoma.  I met with Edwin a few times, saw his family and their new home, and had a fabulous dinner at Mariam's home.  I tried to encourage Mariam and Olipa, the social workers, and Mama Neema, the accountant, and Pastor Mwita of Ipagala, who volunteers to teach Bible classes for the kids.  Although the time was short, and this was the hardest part of the trip for Wesley, we enjoyed seeing everyone and hearing their comments about Wesley: "Amekuwa!" and "Yeye ni mjaLuo kweli!" and "Anafanana baba yake." and "Mtoto mzuri! Hongera!"  (He has grown!  He is really a Luo! He looks just like his father. and What a nice child! Congratulations!)

Sleeping on the ferry while "Bibi" Jeanette rubs his feet
We left Dodoma early Saturday morning and stopped in Shinyanga again, and even before the bus had stopped, Wesley spotted Bishop and Jeanette and started getting excited.  With them were a missionary couple, the Bontragers, who had spent ten years in Kenya and Tanzania way back, and now they have returned to do Theological Education by Extension (like seminary in a seminar).  They reach out to pastors who are serving their churches although they've never had the benefit of formal training.  To Wesley's delight, Joe looks a bit like my dad, so Wesley got to pretend to have two grandpas (Bishop and Joe) to hang out with.  We got to ride with the Nyakyemas and Bontragers up to Musoma on Sunday, and spend the night at Joe and Gloria's home there.  Then Monday morning the Nyakyemas and I took the ferry across Lake Victoria to a town called Kisesi, where Fred picked us up.

It was a good, but long and hard trip, and this was my main takeaway from it:

Path of Hope Ministry is just starting up their children's programs with very few resources.  Lahash came in to start sponsorship, and we could really use additional donors to support this great organization.  The first group of children we're sponsoring is at a small church in the urban center of Shinyanga called Nguzo Nane.  I got to worship with them on Sunday, and I believe the church is supporting more children than there are members in the church!  Please go to http://lahash.org/work/care/sponsor/ and choose Path of Hope Tanzania as your desired location.  It's only $25 per month, and will really encourage them in their ministry!

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