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In August 2017, several members of Holy Trinity went on missionary trips to Tanzania & Guatemala. In Tanzania, we support a local parish in Isimani and we are setting up their very first library for their school. Meanwhile, in Guatemala City, we will be visiting Fundaniños Orphanage to serve the the children who grow, attend school, and play at their home church Casa de Libertad. We’ll be purchasing school materials with your generous donations, leading games/crafts, making a special meal, offering food staples to neighbors as an outreach project, and reinforcing “living” Jesus principles while playing or solving little conflicts between children!
Please enjoy the daily updates from these mission trips. Pastor George Koch, our sitting interim Pastor, will be writing updates on the Tanzania trip. Cristina Dolcino, an International Social Ministry leader, will send updates that have been written by the youth and adults while in Guatemala.
1) East of Eden. The Rift Valley in East Africa spreads like a jagged scar across the landscape, unearthing millions of years of archaeological history in the process. It was here that the earliest humanoids lived; it was from here that they migrated east and north. If unspoiled Africa was the original Garden of Eden, then this area was "east if Eden" from where the earliest humanoids scattered all over the earth.
Although not as well-known as similar sites north (where the fossil "Lucy" was found) the prehistoric site at Isimelia is no less important. First excavated in the late 1950's by the University of Chicago, the sIte contains Stone Age tools such as axes, knives and spear points.
The site is in a narrow valley, a "wadi" which is dry much of the year but has pools and wet spots which allow animals to drink, as they have for millennia. It was here that the early humans hunted animals and gave them game upon which to feed.
Thus narrow valley also has hundreds of sandstone pillars which are covered by lava from ancient volcanoes. It is a place of incredible serenity and beauty. We visited this area on Friday, just before hopping on the bus to go to the Masai Reservation in Montebete on Saturday.
2) The Masai - South of the Nile.
All relationships in Tanzania are personal in nature and it has been a personal relationship between Pastor Paul Korpaschi and Dot & Kurt Kasik which has begun a relationship with the Masai people.
Masai are nomadic, and fairly recent converts to Christianity, thanks to evangelist’s called Wandering Shepherds. Masai do not believe in private ownership of the land, but rather graze cattle and goats on the semi-arid lands around Montibete. When the government of Tanzania (TZ for short) declared their ancestral homeland of the Serengeti to be park land, they were given similar land in Montibete.
Masai have been monotheistic since the beginning, shepherds of large flocks and circumcise their sons at age 16. They believe that they are the descendants of Noah, living in the land "from Mesha in the direction of Sephar, the hill country of the east."
At first skeptical about the divinity of Jesus, the Masai were able to embrace Christianity after their own people became Wandering Shepherds and lived with them as they traveled with their flocks. Pastor Korpaschi was one of the first Wandering Shepherds and now acts in an administrative capacity. The Masai are part of the Southern Diocese of Tanzania which is normally partnered with the Western Iowa Synod (just as the Iringa Diocese is partnered with the Saint Paul Synod). But like Isamani, we can partner with the Masai if both New England and Western Iowa Synod agree.
Although they have many needs, they would like to setup a SACCOS, the micro financing organization to help individuals to get off the ground. They already have a committee formed and early pledges. They also need a cash infusion to the SACCOS and ask our help, something for our council to explore.
Like the people at Isamani, the Masai fed us, gave us shelter for the night and clean water to wash. And like the people from Isamani, their hospitality was heartfelt, genuine and warm.
We saw the young males do the jumps to prove their manhood and chatted with the elders at dusk. At worship, I was asked to preach and we gave them gifts of soccer balls, small dresses for the girls and items for women.
One has to be impressed with tie beauty and faithfulness of the Masai People. Like the visit to our friends at Iringa and Isamani, our time went by too quickly.
Yesterday, Monday was another transition day driving eight-plus hours to Dar es Salaam.
Till later, George