Why SOTV Members Are Thankful For Our Tanzania Partnership

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Phillipians 1:3-6

Most of the time our partnership with the people of Tungamalenga, Makifu, and Usolanga Parishes in the Iringa Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania focuses on things that happen in Tanzania – a visit, a project, a celebration. This month, travelers share what makes them grateful about this partnership.

There is much to be grateful for by joining other travelers in fellowship with our Tanzanian family and frequently I think of the lessons I learned. I was reminded of the value of second-chances, of being open to new people and soaking in new experiences without judgement. It was a living meditation and an opportunity to revel in the moment and be with the people around me. – Elizabeth Fischer

I am grateful for our Tanzania Partnership because it has opened my eyes and my heart to how much unending love there is to share. It enriches my life to be in relationship with God with others that are different than me and the way I live and yet, when I think about it, my family joined SOTV because of our congregation is so welcoming and accepting and that is just the way our Tanzania partners are! – Brenda Krueger

I will forever be thankful for the genuine and energetic welcome we always experience when visiting our Tanzania partners. Seriously, it is like being embraced by a relative that I haven’t seen for a long time. That experience has shown me what an impact sincere hospitality has on relationships and sensing God’s loving presence. – Randy Brandt

Right before we left for Tanzania, Phil injured his leg and was still limping. While we were walking the Mahove water line a beautiful Massai woman noticed we were going slow and came back to us. She started moving rocks and branches in our path so Phil wouldn’t fall. Then she started trying to tell us something.  We found out she was saying she loved us, unconditional love. This love is what you feel and witness. This is what they all were giving us, love. A feeling you do not forget, and you get to share this with your fellow travelers. It is a lasting special connection. As our son Jeff said, the trip was about people, people you went with, and all the people we met there. Thank you for showing us what God’s love is. – Connie and Phil Messner

Singing with the Iringa Choir added a whole new dimension to our partnership! Our daughter Annika and I sang between two 19 year olds who spoke English and were as eager as we were to get to know each other. Between songs and concerts we had time to share stories and start relationships that continue after we returned to Minnesota. Annah and Grace had just finished form 6 (high school) and are eager to share their hopes and dreams. I look forward to hearing from Annah daily via WhatsApp. – Margaret Harrington

The Tanzanian Lutheran church is growing rapidly, and it is very intentional about training lay people to evangelize and invite others to join the congregation. One thing I’m grateful for is being witness to faith and weaving faith into everyday life. When we begin a journey, there’s a prayer for safety, and when we return, a prayer of thanks. On bus rides, we sing hymns together. Meetings begin with prayer for God’s guidance and end with thanks for the plans we have made and for the opportunity to work together on things that matter for the community. It’s being reminded how to live your faith out loud. – Kirsten Levorson

John Mhekwa – he shared his life with us from Secondary School, to College, to ordination, to his own parish, to working at the diocese and working on beginning a new secondary school, to becoming Assistant Principal of Mtera Secondary School. He shared with us the death of his brother and his responsibility for the education of his brother’s children. He shared the joy of falling in love and having a family. He always remembered us with long letters and surprise gifts brought back by other SOTV travelers. We attended his ordination and were honored by his father with a goat! He is never far from our thoughts and prayers. – Lyn and Mollie MacLean

What I continue to appreciate is the joy in relationship as we sang and danced together: hand holding, smiles shared, and music multiplied! We became one voice and beat with one heart – it was wonderful!! – BJ Larson