Tuesday, October 2, 2012

We have just returned from Mbeya

Isanga Church Mbeya - Health Outreach group
Outside the church in Mbeya after the message.
We have just returned from a four days of travel and work in the Mbeya area.  We were very pleased that one of the students who attended the lay-evangelism (LE) school a year ago, January, had taken the training (including the health evangelism training) and put into practice what he has learned in reaching the community in which he lives.  In his church they have developed a team which includes doctors, nurses and people from various backgrounds, working together to reach the people in their need for improved health.

We encouraged them in what they are doing.  They are following Jesus’ example of mingling with the people, sympathizing with them, helping them with their needs (improved health.)  These will allow them to gain their trust, and then they can bid them to follow our loving Lord Jesus!

Doug and Brother Temboh gave the message at church on Sabbath to encourage them to continue in the outreach of their church and to keep moving forward.  Our host announced that we would be doing a “health expo” the following day at a local primary school.  I believe 15 people committed to spread the word of mouth invitations for a few hours to encourage people to come the following day (Sunday.)
We met with the health outreach team and told them the materials we had brought and said we would “fit in” anywhere they wanted us to in the outreach the following day.
People responding to a call to follow Jesus.

In the afternoon, there was a large camp-meeting that we attended.  We met many of the local church pastors including the pastor of the church where we had spoken that morning (he had been busy at the camp meeting.)  He and Doug talked for a long time about many things.  Then I was a bit surprised that he told us that he wanted to introduce us to the entire camp meeting from on stage.  We followed him to the seats he gave us.  Then he introduced us and asked both Doug and I separately to greet and speak to the large group of people that were assembled.  There were numerous LARGE speakers set up so the sounds could travel a long distance away to others that could not come to the meeting, or for persecution reasons could not come directly to the meeting. 
Camp meeting - see the large speaker stands on each side broadcasting to all the area around.

We stayed until the meetings were finished that evening.  We didn’t see ANY other Caucasian people the entire time we were in Mbeya.  So we drew a bit of attention (especially for the children.)  The children would come close especially to Joshua.  They would just sit and stare at us.  I took the opportunity to teach a tiny bit of sign language to a group of boys.  I would show them a letter of the alphabet (sign language) and they would imitate it.  They seemed to really enjoy that.

From the stage (I tried to discretely take a picture of part of the people while we were up there.)

Joshua with bunches of mosquito bites
 That night Joshua got bitten numerous times by mosquitoes during the night.  We are hoping he does not come down with malaria.   Just to paint a more colorful picture – the wind and dust (and mosquitoes) made it more challenging for certain!

People waiting to come to the health outreach
Blood pressures being checked
Sunday the health expo was supposed to be from 9 am – 2 pm.  We finished at 4:30 PM!  There were at least 137 people that came. 

They really appreciated the education, the tests (BP, BMI, lung capacity, lifestyle questionnaire, doctor’s advice, etc.)  In my area (lifestyle questionnaire and advice) The people asked many great questions.  It is amazing that people don’t know how important it is just to drink water!  
It was a long exhausting wonderful day working with the church’s team and all the people of the community.  

The team was very happy with the results of such a short notice to the public and with the reception of the community. 

They have invited us to come and work with them more, doing various outreaches, including seminars. 

They would appreciate prayers.

Conference president and officers
Yesterday we went by the conference offices and met with many of the leaders there including the president of our conference.  We were welcomed very warmly and hope to work hand-in-hand to further God’s work with them in this region.  

Now we are sensing more the need of having a vehicle that we can use for this work.  We were blessed that this time Temboh, Mrs. Temboh and Alex went with us and Temboh drove the LE school cruiser.  Many of the roads we drive are treacherous!  Even in town they are incredibly rough, some places VERY steep.  I can’t even imagine what they are like in the rainy season.
Rough city streets - notice the shadows how they curve because of ruts and holes?
On the way back, we took a different route because we needed to drop food supplies to the LE students that are doing one of the two village efforts.  Those roads were incredible!  I asked “is this really a road?”  We drove between boulders, dodged trees, areas were so eroded that it didn’t look like it was wide enough for a vehicle, and the bumps and holes were amazing.  There were times when we averaged 10 km/hour and stayed at 20 km/hour and less for a long stretch.  If it had been daylight, I would have loved to take some pictures of those roads!
Steep entry in Mbeya.  It was scary each time we had to go down or up this part!  See the cows behind the car?
So we are praying along with our team members that God will open up the door for us to get a vehicle (that can handle these road conditions and our need for taking supplies) so we will not be hindered in the outreach that is opening up more and more around us.
Dusty, windy, smokey Mbeya
Tomorrow we go back out to a village where the LE students are doing a three week evangelism effort.  We will do health outreach.  Yesterday we stopped and visited with half of the students.  We were told that the people were VERY open to the help with health (where as many are afraid to come out to the evangelism meetings because of threats by leaders in the community.)  We are thankful that God has provided a way to open the door to people’s hearts through the health work!

Next week we will go to the other village site, then the week after that we will be in the villages for three weeks.

We really appreciate the prayer, encouragement and support.  Prayer is SO important.  This is a spiritual battle and we need spiritual weapons and prayer is a STRONG weapon against the forces that want to keep the Truth from being known!
Mbeya market
Those who need Jesus.
We have been very encouraged by a specific person letting us know that they have decided to follow Jesus (just in the last couple of weeks.)  What a humbling blessing to be part of that!  God is good, and can even use a donkey - so I know He can us me, too!

So today we are trying to recover a bit from our travels and work over the weekend.  We left Mbeya a little after 2:00 pm and got home at 9:00 pm last night.  We are a bit tired, but VERY encouraged and happy to be a little part in this huge work.