Methodists in Tanzania
Lamadi or Ramadi 25 April 2010
Looking so much like the country of of my childhood in West Texas as we pass the Serengeti driving from Bunda to our church in Lamadi, I am filled with joy as I watch grazing Zebra and Wildebeest. This joy reminds me of the joy of watching the brief moment that the Dogwood’s bloom and sparkle under the shade of larger trees. This is something we used to see as we drove to Elkins and Winslow from Fayetteville, Arkansas, when my husband was just starting his ministry. I always feel that when I get to see some of God’s wonders, he has just given me a zawati (gift). I always feel blessed to be able to see it and recognize it as a gift. This was just one of those wonderful close times with my Lord.
Heading for Lamadi
Some tribes use r for l. Other tribes use l for r. Therefore Lamadi has a sign saying Lamadi on one end of the town and Ramadi on the other side. Passing the large cabbages sold on the road under a tree, we turn left onto a path between shops winding around down town Lamadi to a school that is being used for the Lamadi Methodist Church. They are trying to raise money to build a church of their own like so many Methodist churches.
Having Church with our Lamadi friends
Arriving about 10:00 only a few were there and we begin our greetings which is a must in East Africa. “Welcome, How are you? How is your family? How is your town?” Looking around for the little girl I met last year, not finding her I wondered how she might look now. This church is made up of many orphaned children and widows. Many are rejected by many in the town. When Minister Daniel came yesterday to our house we gave him a soccer ball and a pump for it. He has had youth joining the church and they want to have a soccer team. I explained to them about a church that tried that and let the kids practice without adult supervision and how they fought over the ball and left the church. He promised to always keep the watch over the team. It looked as if he really had that interest. I told them I wanted to see a game sometime. That made all the youth very happy.
I get a wonderful sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit when I walk into the churches even it they are held in schools. With six windows on each side of the room, each window had one kanga (A piece of cloth with a saying on it). All four corners were tied to the security bar at the edge of the window. The middle was tied so it had two big triangles to look like a butterfly. This is often the decorations in our churches. As I walk in I am hit with the usual smells of Tanzania. I could detect musty fire smell, urine, Skunk from the choo, and citrus. Citrus? I wondered. That is new. Mamas put receiving blankets on the babies as diapers. We had five babies, twenty young children, fifteen young adults and twenty adults. Later, I saw the little boy with the orange. Ah ha! Citrus
The songs were wonderful. They had no drums or keyboard. Just the clapping of the hands that sounded like a wonderful percussion band. How do they do it? I looked over
and saw one young man clapping on his Bible making a base drum sound. One boy was clapping double time. One was clapping every fourth beat. It was just beautiful. I was amazed as I always am with the Holy Spirit that made them all so happy. This is one of the poorest areas of the country and Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Halliluya! Praise the Lord! Amen! In every song you could hear the word Tumaini! (Hope) Why do they have nothing and have so much hope and so many have so much and seem to have no hope? Make a joyful noise unto the Lord! Indeed they did.
A group of 6 that attends Bible Study each week
Mchumgaji Daniel introduced the group of youth that come each week to study the Bible. They stood very proud and tall as he honored them. Five boys and one girl were very pleased that he had them stand. We are glad to give Bibles for this purpose when the ministers ask for them. Minister Daniel’s, wife is also a lay Minister. I am sure she helps with the Bible Study.
Nursing Mothers in Church.
One lady walked in with a beautiful print dress with big flowers of bright pink and lime green. Walking beside her was a baby girl also in a long dress of that same Oprah green color. This child was not more than seven months old, yet she was walking. I think they learn to walk early here to keep from having to sit in the dirt. I have children just that young run out to wave at me as I drive by. They see their older brothers and sisters do it and the babies just sit up early and walk early.
In Church you will see the mamas nurse their babies when ever they need it as this beautiful woman did today. They do it with no shame and with all the love a mother can have. This culture does not look upon the breast as a sex object. It is for a baby’s nourishment only. When the mothers die of Malaria or AIDS, it is the loss of this nourishment that that puts the child in risk. It is the first two years of a baby’s life without a mother that is difficult. That is why we help with the Musoma Children’s home. They keep the orphans for two years and send them back to the extended family. The babies are cared for in a way that the families can not do for that two years.
Reflecting past the Zebras and Wildebeest going back home
Stopping to buy three Cabbage at the place where you can get the biggest Cabbages around, I was able to reflect on the Sprit filled day in Lamadi. God is so good.