Tanzania: Apart and Still Together

For the first time since our Tanzania Partnership began in 2001, our annual journey to visit our partners in Tungamalenga, Makifu, and Usolanga Parishes was cancelled. We describe our partnership as Bega Kwa Bega, the Swahili phrase that means shoulder to shoulder. We name three pillars of our companionship: prayer, presence, and projects. All of these imply being together…or do they?

How can we be companions when we are apart?
That is the question we have wrestled with for the past six months.

Our prayers for one another can be more fervent.
Our companions are leading the way in this area, reporting that their parishes are meeting weekly to pray for us. Their prayers for us are full of trust that God will shelter us and protect us from the virus, and keep our relationship strong until we can meet again, face to face.

Our presence can be experienced in new ways.
In August, we held Zoom partnership meetings with leaders from Tungamalenga and Makifu Parishes, and our Bega Kwa Bega Program Coordinator, Deacon April Trout, and Iringa Diocese Pastor, Lusungu Msigwa, visited each parish on our behalf. Pastors and parish friends have sent weekly emails, and we received a video from Mpalapande leaders in June. Those messages are shared on our SOTV Tungamalenga Partnership Facebook page.

Projects can be discussed, supported, and completed even when we are apart.
Usolanga recently completed work on the roof of the Mbuyuni Chapel, and will soon begin the final phase of construction, installing the floor and finishing the walls with plaster and paint. Scholarship students have been back to school since June and are working through holidays to complete the year’s curriculum on time. The parsonage at Tungamalenga is receiving long needed repairs, and Makifu Parish is putting the finishing touches on the Kisilwa Chapel. Funds were sent in April to restock the rural clinic’s pharmacy. We are able to send funds through synod channels, and the BKB Program Director will disburse the money, visit the site, and send photos of project progress.

There are many things we can do together while we are physically apart. So, in the words of St Paul to the Galatians, “let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”

Your gifts make a world of difference!
During the month of October, we are asking you to support our partners in Makifu, Tungamalenga and Usolanga. Pray for them, follow our Facebook page for updates, and give generously to support scholarships, medical supplies, and funding for parish projects. There are chapels to roof, motorcycles to buy so that pastors can minister to their far-flung village congregations, and water projects that need repair. Please write checks payable to SOTV with Tanzania in the memo line, or give online at sotv.org/give. You may designate your gift to be used for “TZ Scholarships,” “TZ Medical,” “TZ Projects,” or indicate that it be used where needed most in the partnership by inserting “TZ Partnership.”

Finally, enjoy this message from Pastor/Doctor Barnabas Kahwage, received a week after the Zoom meeting: It is so long time since we met here in Tungamalenga and since I saw you in Zoom last time in Iringa. Oh, it is my hope that by the grace of God you are all fine. We in Tungamalenga are all fine and we are missing you so much that we can’t express. We are hoping that one day we will see you face to face hugging each other when COVID-19 is over in the world which is soon to come. We are so thankful for the support you are doing to our church. We are continuing to pray that let there come a time when the world’s free from COVID-19 which we TRUST it is POSSIBLE.