It’s hard to believe that we left Boot Camp just on Monday. It simultaneously feels like just yesterday and so, so long ago. Travel days were incredibly long and so quick at the same time. We are so thankful to God for incredibly smooth travel with no issues. We definitely feel like God answered our prayers during each tight spot or stressful moment of travel.
On Monday morning we checked in all of our luggage with no problems, and then enjoyed some food at the airport food court. The security line was long and busy, so we were glad we went through early. Alex lost some perfume to the TSA and Nana lost a razor, but there were no other issues.
After a turbulent but quick flight from Orlando to Washington DC, we collected all of our luggage and took a shuttle to the hotel. We were so grateful for hot showers and a chance to call our parents, and then a sleep in a bed instead of in a tent.
The hotel provided breakfast and transportation back to Dulles Airport. Our duffels were checked in in no time, but suddenly the airline told us they wanted to weigh our carry-on bags. God answered our hastily said prayers, and when we explained that we had a lot of food in our bags to feed all the kids over a long trio, we were sent through security within needing to weigh bags.
Our flight to Addis Ababa was long and smooth. Beth suffered from motion sickness, Lila slept almost the whole 15 hours, and Caleb spent most of the flight as his cheerful, happy self. A short layover in Addis Ababa was followed by an even shorter flight to Kilimanjaro, and we exited the plane to our first views of Tanzania. Visas were gotten, bags claimed, and customs were cleared easily.
Saba, the national coordinator for TMI Tanzania, picked us up at the airport. On the way to the base, we marveled at our first glimpses of majestic Mount Kilimanjaro rising up from the plains to tower over us. We unloaded and unpacked bags and had a quick supper. Charis, who had somehow missed Kilimanjaro on the drive, suddenly discovered the mountain. Then we crashed in our tents, enjoying 11 hours of sleep. Most of us were just grateful to be sleeping horizontally again after so much travel.
Thursday morning we woke up and began our work. The first tasks involved actually getting set up here. Hannah and Victor helped on kp and did a lot of work to set up and organize the kitchen. Then Beth and Hannah went out with Saba after lunch to run errands and enjoyed seeing more of the countryside.
The rest of the team began preparing the BMW building for work. Extra mortar had to be removed in portions of the building so plaster could be applied today. Additionally, the team removed rocks and weeds from the grounds and cut grass in the yard.
Today I did a quick walk-through to check progress before writing this update. Alex and Kenzie were applying mortar in one room while BMW students smoothed the walls, and Ana and JennaFaye did the same in another room. Charis and Enoch were mixing a small pile of mortar to keep it from sticking to the floor, and Nana, Caleb, Victor, Ryan, and Cortnee were starting to mix a new pile of mortar. The team is often singing while they work, and their joy resonates around the base.
God continues to teach us so much. Here’s what team members have to say about that:
Its almost been a month since we all met each other. When we first met, we were all a little quiet. But now we are all close. We help each other with our problems, and we’re basically laughing all the time together. We’ve really come closer as a team and family. ~Landon
It’s amazing here in Tanzania. Being able to see Kilimanjaro towering in the distance is incredible. The size of the mountain really reminds me of God’s power and might. This trip has been really growing my faith in God, and it has been helping me trust in Him more and more every day. This trip is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I love seeing and feeling the spiritual growth, both in the group and in myself. ~Owen
Throughout Boot Camp and our trip so far, it has become evident to me just how distracted I often was in my normal life. Doing various responsibilities or events and using the easily accessible luxuries of life seem to have been a stumbling block to my relationship with God. I have benefitted from our days being entirely devoted to the Lord, as they should always be, and will continue that dedication when I return home. ~Savannah