Well, we finally did it. The big hike that the kids have been waiting for all summer was yesterday. And though they thought they were ready for it, a lot of them weren’t expecting it to be that difficult. We woke up at 5:00, packed the backpacks, took down the tents, cleaned up the property and loaded up the truck with kitchen equipment. We took a picture of the team with their backpacks on in front of their work project and then they were off. With food in their pockets and a couple of water bottles each, they began their journey over the rolling hills of farmlands. Four hours later they made it to where the pavement ends and the real hiking begins. No more flat land. Now with just four miles to go they met “the mountain”. Straight up the steep hills—it was a challenge with their heavy backpacks and tired feet. After three miles and three more hours a much needed half-hour break was taken before starting out on the final mile. Some wanted to give up, some struggled so hard to make it the last part of the long hike, but everyone made it! Finally after more than eight hours, they made their way onto the church property where we will be staying for a few days. Beautiful voices of the church choir practicing inside greeted them as they got some much needed water and began to set up their tents for the night. After getting supper (boy were they hungry!), they met our newest pet—a horned chameleon that Petah spotted in the church parking lot (they had to say goodbye to our pet hedgehog and chameleon that we released back at the base that morning). The pastor arrived and asked for us to show a film that evening, and even though everyone was so tired, after bible marking and group devotions, we were able to attend the film and got to meet a number of people who live nearby who came for the film.
The church property and surrounding mountain village are really beautiful. It’s green year-round even though it is dry season because we are so close to the rivers of Kilimanjaro. The water is colder and the nights are colder. This morning we awoke to a temperature of 59 degrees. There is sporadic electricity and a comparatively nice kitchen (an 8’x8’ enclosed shelter with lots of shelves for storage and organization). It is such a contrast from our project site at the TMI base where everything was covered in a layer of dust and there was dirt everywhere and surrounded by dried up corn fields. Also, unlike at the base, we are surrounded by curious children who are eager to meet us and practice a little English. This morning there was a group of kids at the church who were learning phonics.
The biggest blessing for our team this week was when one of our team members was sharing in group devotions. He realized he hadn’t totally given his life to the Lord and through his sharing another one of our team members was also touched and they both gave their lives to the Lord on Sunday night. It was a moment of praise and rejoicing for the whole team and some commented that experiencing that was worth the whole trip.
Now some bits from the team:
“So built we the wall” Nehemiah 4:6 is basically our theme as we finished up our bricklaying days. This morning Petah shared in devotions mainly about how our “doing” is not as important as our “being”. This made me think as I was filling in the cracks on one of the walls about what I will say about this trip. Will I just say I was building a base and backpacking, or what will I say when people ask me what happened to me? I’ve been reading Judges through Kings about how Solomon built the temple and how he didn’t allow a single iron tool to be used out of reverence for the Lord. So what good is it for us to build this building if our hearts are still dirty? Works are empty. What if with every brick we laid, we built up each other in Christ instead of joking around and discussing movies. Our journey isn’t over yet so I hope that God will keep working on us as well as through us even after we go home.
Yesterday was really special to me because I had KP. I knew that I would miss being able to cook this summer (which is something I love to do). Yesterday God gave me the opportunity to cook. I was so excited! I was able to share one of my favorite recipes with the team. I made Swedish pancakes as a snack for everyone and we were able to take it to the rest of the team as they were working on the project.
How exciting it is to see the work and how much we’ve gotten done together as a team. As much as I want to go home I want to stay here. The gap of not being around my loved ones has defiantly been filled by the beauty of this country and the love of God. I praise Him for that every day.
Our whole team is pumped to start backpacking and doing EV. We are learning that if our heart isn’t right with God while we are working, living and serving God, there is no point. It has been a challenge for me. A lot of times I work with a smile on my face, but my heart attitude isn’t right. This whole trip I have been struggling with doubt. It started when I signed up. I’ll never get enough support to go. God provided. Then I’ll die before Boot Camp is over! I’m too weak, I can’t do it. God reminded me that I can do all things through Him who gives me the strength. Then can I make it through backpacking? Faith, not by my strength, Lord, but by Yours. I give myself to You.
So far, Africa has been absolutely amazing! I can’t even come close to describing the beauty that God gave this land. One of the highlights for me so far was attending church. I loved the singing. Out of their mouths came the most beautiful and harmonious sound I have ever heard in my life! I have also enjoyed the passion they all had.
Thank you all for keeping us in your prayers. We have been blessed with safety and good health, with not even one in the sick tent all summer! Thank you Lord.