2011 Trip Archive

The following are the daily team updates written and submitted by team member David Sinclair.

Good Morning All
10 July 11

This update is coming earlier than planned. Blackberry automatically truncated the distribution list and this is a test email to see if I can over-ride this feature. My backup plan will be to send an email to Carol and she will then distribute the email. I know most of us are uncomfortable with being our own IT solutions person, but my options are limited. 

We over-nighted in Dubai. 8 of us took a 2 hour taxi tour of the city. The bus tour would have been slow and more expensive, so we obtained 2 Toyota Land Rovers for a third less price than the bus. I’m now known as the Price-line Negotiator. The city is very impressive. Watched a lighted fountain show with the world’s tallest building (165 floors – Williams Tower + 100 floors) as the backdrop and ended the tour at the Atlantis hotel on the Palm Jumeriah. Most us managed to get at least 7 hours of sleep. We leave for the airport shortly for the flight to Dar es Salaam and will arrive there @8:00 am Houston time.



Greetings from Tanzania
11 July 11

We are finally in country and will stay overnight at the Rambo Inn in Dar es Salaam. This place redefines the term firm mattress, but we are grateful. As you travel, you learn much about those you’re with. For instance, Josh is now known as Starbucky for his attraction to Starbucks and Jonathan knocked his plate on the floor after dinner. The hotel staff was all smiles when we explained that was his was his special way of saying he liked dinner. The Colonel (Holloway), has a new name from the Tanzania immigration officials. They treated him with great courtesy as they handed him his passport and called him Father of Many. Wonder why????? We will get up at 4:15 am to prepare for our first day on the road. Our goal is Makambo.

Blessings All


Greetings from Songea
13 July 11

After 3.5 days of travel, we are finally on the mission field. This morning we arose to temps around 40 degrees. The wind chill was probably in the mid-30’s. We left at 8:00 am and got on the road to Songea. Whilst on the road, the team had its first conversion experience as Josh made an admission that Africafe instant coffee was really good. I believe he’s going to make it available at select Kingsland coffee bars. In keeping other notable conversions, we’ve changed his name to Java Josh. 

We rolled into Songea after 5.5 hours. The road follows a high ridge through the mountains and provides views of the surrounding landscape similar to what you would see if you’ve ever traveled the Devil’s Backbone west of Blanco, TX. We connected with the Bells upon our arrival and they graciously provided homemade pizza for lunch. We reviewed the plans for the next six days and set out for the hotel and then the church. 
As we neared the church (Kanisa la Kabaptist) located on red dirt road, our arrival was clearly anticipated as children began to pour out of the mud huts along the way. The attached picture says it all. It was really great to re-unite with our Safwa brothers and sisters. Their love for the Lord and desire to spread the gospel is great. We had “dinner on the grounds” as Momma Naomi and others had cooked a meal of beans, rice, and cabbage over an open fire. 

After dinner we had a church service. We had power in the building for about 5 seconds and then the lights went out. We placed a single flashlight atop the door frame and we had all the light we needed. The Safwa and locals led the singing. The sound was absolutely beautiful. Seeing Mark Wilson and a few other team members jump up, clap hands, and dance around the room with the Safwa and locals was really great. Gil preached tonight on “Unity in the Spirit”. All evening sermons will be on this topic and a different team member will speak each evening. Bill Crenshaw speaks tomorrow evening. 

Tomorrow, we will train Safwas and locals, tape stories in Swahili, and go storying in a couple of nearby villages. Pray that God prepares the path for us. We anticipate a great day tomorrow.

Blessings all


14 July 2011

It’s been another great day here in Tanzania. We met at the church at 8:00 am and divided into assigned mission teams……kinda….. Like many mission trips, what’s on paper isn’t exactly the way things always happens. Sometimes it’s better that way because it helps us realize who’s really in control. The video translation project has technical challenges that are being met, but please continue to pray that things continue to go well. The teaching sessions with the Safwa are also going well. Their passion for the Lord is inspiring.

The field teams fanned-out into two villages south of Songea. We were probably within 15 – 20 miles of the Mozambique border. A recent convert from Islam, Frank, was very instrumental in helping to prepare the area for our arrival. While the teams met with success with several decisions being made, it is evident that much work remains. We will return to some more outlying villages.

The language barrier is always a challenge, it also has it’s rewards. Late this afternoon when one the men of the village wanted to accept Christ, our reliance on the presence of a Safwa had always bridged that communication gap. Our solution was a “round robin” communication of the Prayer of Salvation. We didn’t realize until we had left that another family member had been listening in the background and also want to accept Christ. We returned and met them on the trail to pray. Mark Wilson said he no longer felt fatigued and the walk back to the truck was no problem.

Our biggest challenge seems to be the rolling “brown-outs”. We used flashlights again at church tonight. At present, kerosene lamps are in each hallway and stairwell of the hotel. It’s clear this isn’t the first time this has happened. Again, a small and manageable problem.

3 pics: Children at church, On the trail, and Mark (mountains of Mozambique in the background). Time to get some sleep.

Blessings all

15 July 11

We were back in the villages again early this morning. Our focus was a village west of Songea where a small church has been established. It is a 4 room structure with red dirt floors and no window coverings or door that closes. Many people brought their own chairs from home since there are few chairs. We broke into teams and prayed over each room in the church. They are expecting a large group on Sunday.

The outreach in this area was difficult due to the high Moslem influence, but God was good and the Moslems we encountered shadowed our group and wanted to learn more. The area to which I went required a one mile walk along the highway. One needs to understand that all traffic….bus, car, truck, taxi, bike, and pedestrian use same the road. The main problem is the biggest vehicle wins. I jumped towards the ditch more than a few times. I couldn’t wait to get off that road. 

We came back to the church for lunch. After a few days, I’m still amazed at the kitchen set-up as meals are cooked over an open fire. Today we had ugali and a meat. Ugali is stiff corn mush similar to a corn meal paste and grits. It looks just like mashed potatoes and besides rice, is a customary food in Tanzania. I know it doesn’t sound good, but after a long morning it’s really tasty. 

Each evening (at dusk) we give a report to the group on the day’s activities. This is done while bats dip low over the group. It’s a little distracting, but really adds to the overall experience. This evening, Josh and Gil gave a great report on the training efforts and are encouraged by the participation of those attending. Reverend Ross spoke tonight. He has now come the closest to destroying property. In his example, the Safwa took him quite literally in walking in different directions with a piece of furniture. It was a great example of how ineffective we are when we’re not in unity. After 2 trips where singing efforts by our team didn’t go well, we finally brought our “A” game. A modified upbeat version with an African drum (and a Godfrey move) of “We are One in the Spirit” and “Blessed Assurance” was well received. The themes went well with unity and security of salvation. 

Josh, Jonathon, and Mark remained at the church after the service this evening as the Jesus film was presented in swahili. We expect them back soon. 

Please continue to pray for us as we continue to face challenges with brown outs (the power just came on from last night) and technical issues associated with the recording team. Amongst other things they had to run off generators all day. 

Tomorrow we dedicate a church and it’s my turn to preach……..all new roles for me. Nothing like being stretched. 

Pictures of the day: Curtis with Thomas (Safwa translator) and a view of walking along the highway.

Blessings all,

16 July 11

Today we traveled to the village of Mylilayoyo to dedicate a church building and do evangelism in the community. The church is a small one room building with a grass roof. It was really nice and will be a great place from which to expand. We went to this community 2 years ago with the hope that a church would form. It did shortly after we left. One of the pictures above shows their first place of worship. Definitely humble beginnings. It is a covered place on the side of a house. I believe some of the meeting places in Acts were better than this. 

Josh and Paul join the evangelism team in the village today. They had been warned of the potential for distractions and both got a full dose. For example, chickens will walk around you while you’re talking. One began to squawk loudly when Satan’s name was mentioned. We also had a fight between a chicken and a dog, a kid swinging a hoe around other kids, breast-feeding, kids fighting and crying, and goats. A typical day in Tanzania. Through it all, 4 decisions were made for Christ.

The recording team continues to press on in the face of technical challenges. While the situation isn’t perfect, by the end of the trip, the Tanzanians will have 83 recorded Bible stories. Even NASA would consider this mission a success. (Pic of Ross w/Safwa doing recordings. Note the ironing board). 

The team wanted me to let y’all know that even though we’ve had to endure power brown outs (the lights just went out again), we are getting baths daily and have had the good fortune of hot and cold running water. The cold runs out of the faucet and the hot water is run upstairs to us by the hotel clerk each morning at 6:00 am in a 5 gallon bucket. 

Our lessons this week have been on unity. My brother Ross is my roommate and confessed to me tonight that he has been harboring bad feelings toward me for the past several days as each night he has gone into the bathroom, the toilet seat was soaking wet. He thought I was possibly extracting revenge for him calling me “ka ka” (big brother in Swahili) all week, had lost my accuracy, or was trying to intentionally drive him from the room. He was relieved to discover the problem was a leaky connection on a hose near the handle (I thought he knew about). In the spirit of unity, he asked for my forgiveness. I of course granted it once I quit laughing. We are one again. 

As you can see, we are having fun. Continue to pray for us.

Blessings all,

17 July 11

Note to self: Sleeping past 6:00 am on Sunday is not possible in Songea. Church bells begin to ring through the city and anyone with a microphone has the sound cranked-up. 

It is now Sunday night in Tanzania. We had a great day of worship at the local church. Representatives from churches in the surrounding villages we’ve been working with came into the city to worship with us. When we arrived this morning at the church this morning we were notified that the during the “welcome” portion of the service that the choir from each group would give a presentation. You know….an impromptu choir competition. A wave of panic broke out amongst our group. We watch the first group to determine expectations and several of us quietly excused ourselves to come up with a plan. The others thought we were trying to escape. Thank goodness, Paul had the words to some songs in his day pack and we selected two (This the Day and I Will Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving in my Heart). I developed the choreography based on what the Safwa were doing and trained all teams members. Just before we sang, Paul gave the drummer the tempo, had the words interpreted, and we were ready. Bill’s advice to the team was to “go big or go home”. Since home was not a real option, we went big. There is video and I’m sure it will go viral at some point. While this was fun, this was also a serious effort to express the love we have for Christ in a manner familiar to the Tanzanians. There is much to be said for spirited manner in which they express themselves through music. This is also a good example how fast things change on the mission field. Ross shared a saying from his days in the Navy….”Semper Gumby”. This means “always flexible”. At some point, you will all get to see and hear what I’m writing about.

The service lasted 3.5 hours. Our guest preacher was delayed due to travel and so Bill preached. Semper Gumby. He did a fantastic job. 

After lunch, we fanned out into the surrounding community to conduct evangelism. The were 2 decisions and much interest expressed by several people. We wrapped up the day with a baptism. We loaded up the vehicles and many sang for the entire trip to the river (and back). After parking the vehicles, we had a short hike to a shady spot along river bank (we were assured it was crocodile free). It was a truly a beautiful celebration of a new life in Christ. All agreed the water was a little chilly (air temp@ 65 degrees), but it was clear the man was very happy. (See attached pic.) 

I keep dozing off so I think it’s time to conclude the email. I guess it’s because the feel of clean (numbered) sheets on the bed here at the Shinyanga Annex. Yes…numbered and named sheets. I’m in the Nyerere Suite….Bed #1…..pink sheets and pillow cases. (Pic attached). Very nice. 🙂 
Good night…

Blessings all,

18 July 11

This was our last day in Songea. It was a very interesting day of evangelism as we traveled to a village on the outskirts south of Songea. This area is predominantly Muslim, but a small christian church has been established. It is now located under a porch on the side of a house. They were anxious to also show us the grove of trees in a creek bed where they originally started meeting. 

Ross and Curtis encountered a local Imam and conversed with him for an hour. Our group encountered the village leaders while we were speaking with one of the villagers. The officials came up and began to question us. I still don’t understand much swahili, but the word “arrest” is apparently the same as english. After much discussion and a couple of phone calls, everything was approved and we continued. Whew! 

The afternoon was filled with very interesting stories of encounters both good and tough. Character building no doubt. 

At the “11th hour” today, the technology issues were finally resolved and the Safwa now have 72 stories and the True Love Waits. The number shared earlier in the week was not correct. 

Departing from our Safwa brothers and sisters and the locals in Songea was very difficult. We will miss them greatly. I had a “Joseph” moment just before dinner as the Safwa had gathered under a tree near the church for a discussion. After a few moments they called all the Sinclair’s over and told them one of them would need to remain in Africa. They explained that the best dancer would need to remain. I was selected and was told by several that they had a plot of land for me and I could live there. My family just laughed. I think some even gave thanks. After a little discussion they let me go with a promise to return. 

We are showing the Jesus film at a playground in the community tonight. The ride into this area after dark was…..let’s call it interesting and intense. I just hope we remember how to get back. So there’s no suspense regarding our return, if you receive this email we are back at the hotel. To add to the complexity of the situation, all homes around the playground are owned by muslims that denied us permission to use the side of their house as a movie screen. No problem….we just rigged a sheet onto one of the vehicles and used bricks to anchor it. Perfect. As I write this, we are sitting under a star canopy that most of us have rarely seen. We have a great view of the Milky Way. It’s a beautiful evening and we estimate nearly 250 people are watching the film. 

We leave at 6:00 am to begin the long journey back. We stay at Ruaha tomorrow night. 
God is doing a great work in this community and the people here are very courageous. Please continue to pray for them.

Blessings all


Pics for the day: 
Ross, Paul and Bill show Safwa how to use players, 
Josh sets up Jesus Movie in the dark.

19 July 11

We left Songea a little after 6:00 am. We arrived in Ruaha Game Park 10 hours later. We did a brief Safari (2 hours) on the way to the River Lodge.

We saw many animals. Some almost too close for comfort. We watch an elephant try to push a tree down next to the road and another elephant charged on of the vehicles (there’s video). The high point was watching a male lion walking in the brush. He got within 15 yds of the vehicle. 

We are staying in lodges along the Ruaha River and cannot go outside once we’re in our rooms. Lots of noises out right now. We’re waiting for our Masaii Warrior escort. I will try to provide an update on the last night in Songea. The movie was well received, I’m running out of time here. Light go out shortly and we need to be in.

Blessings all


20 July 11

We began our Safari day at 9:00 am. The high light of the morning was seeing a lion with 3 cubs. We came back to the lodge for a good lunch. After lunch we took a rest. As we were heading back to the room, when a group of elephants including a couple of babies came up out of the river near Holloway’s lodge. They then went near Gil and Curtis’s lodge. Gil and Curtis got a great view of them. 

The afternoon safari began at 3:45 pm. It was a routine afternoon until we came up on 13 lions in a creek bed. There were 4 adults and 9 cubs. A couple of cubs were nursing. A rare treat. We finally saw some greater kudu late in the day.

We got to see a beautiful sunset and got out on the deck early to watch stars and look for satellites. We saw several satelite, shooting stars, could see the Southern Cross very clearly. 

We are wrapping up dinner now. We leave for Dar at 7:45 am tomorrow. We estimate a 12 hour trip.

Blessings all


21 July 11

The morning began with a quick breakfast and we got on the road a little after 8:00 am. 30 minutes into the trip, a radiator cap on one of the vehicles blew. We were now stranded in a wild game park. 

The problem was evaluated and a potential solution to the problem was decided upon. The sticker inside the engine area that said to used only genuine Land Rover parts was obviously ignored. It was not possible or practical to comply where we were. The driver whittled/tapered a piece a wood to replace the blown radiator cap on the cooling system for the engine. The piece of wood was hammered into the opening for a snug fit. A layer of super glue and sand was poured around the interface of the wood and radiator opening followed by another layer of glue and sand. Finally, the entire repair area was covered with “gasket maker” (a black paste substance). We believed the height of the wood would close the distance between the repair and the bottom of the hood when the hood was closed and help hold pressure on the opening. The repair needed to set, but the schedule demanded we continue. We loaded all gear onto the other two vehicles, gave the stranded vehicle driver food and water, wished him luck, and left him in the game park. 

The trip continued and there was concern that contact with the stranded vehicle could not be re-established. We made our customary 30 minute stop at the snake farm in Mikumi and just when were about to leave, the 3rd vehicle showed up. Everyone was ecstatic that the driver was safe and amazed the repair worked. 

We made into Dar at 8:00 pm. While were at dinner, the power went out. Everyone quickly pulled out their flashlight and lit up the restaurant. We’re obviously getting accustom to how things work in Tanzania. Be flexible and be prepared. 

We will spend a couple of hours at the market tomorrow and then head to the airport in the early afternoon. The two flights will consume approximately 24 hours. We should arrive in Houston at 10:00 am Saturday morning. 

Unless there’s a specific reason, this will be the final email blast. Should anyone need to reach someone on the team, please send me a note and I’ll be glad to relay the message. For those coming to the airport, we leave Dubai at 6:45 pm Houston time. After that time, you will not be able to communicate with us. 

On behalf of the team, I want to convey our thanks for praying for us. We have had a great time and are looking forward to seeing our families. God has been faithful. We are honored to have been in his service on this trip.

Blessings all


Tanzania Reflections

In few words I will try to relive our experience proclaiming the Gospel in southern Tanzania.  So please bear with me.

Two days before our departure I was asked to prepare a 5 night lesson on “Unity in the Spirit.”  Our purpose was to expand our role in the short time we had.  Previously we spent days only doing outreach in the various villages.  This trip was to pursue several goals:
• Outreach in the villages
• Day training for the Safwa tribesman who spend considerable time walking Tz proclaiming the Gospel
• Training for the local church “Kinisa la Kibaptist” to help resolve differences
• Night classes for Unity training
•  Leave behind solar powered audio devices with Bible stories translated by Safwa and recorded in Swahili.

I will say that the mission was accomplished, of course more can always be done and our prayer is that God will send a watering provision. There were 10 members from Kingsland BC on the trip and we met a public health doctor in Dubai who was to be a translator and medical adviser and travelled with us to Tz.

We departed IAH on schedule (4pm on 6/10) heading north by northeast bypassing Iceland, Greenland, Britain, Iraq, Iran into Dubai at9:05am Houston and 6:05pm Dubai time landing is a sand storm.  We had onboard technology allowing us to see below the plane as well as the pilot’s view, the three rivers forming the Garden of Eden was a wonderful sight to behold.  At an altitude of +37K feet we could see the snow capped mountains of the Himalayas

Since we had a few hours in Dubai, several of us took the wonderfully beautiful night tour of all of the fancy buildings including the Birja Alipha (the world’s tallest building and sold to the emir of Abu Dhabi for 65 billion dollars).

Our flight to Dar es Salaam took 5.5 hours, after clearing customs, we met our three drivers, who thankfully loaded our luggage onto the safari trucks, we were to become very familiar with for the next 10 days.  We spent our first night in Dar in a “hotel” next to a rocking pub which equated to little sleep before departing Dar at 5am, drove all day to Makamboko where we spent the night.  The distance from Dar es Salaam to Songea, our destiny is the equivalent of 529 miles; however, with the road conditions (scrub board surface) and the fact that you can not drive after dark makes for a 2 day trip.

Arriving in Songea, we had lunch with a local missionary family from east Texas (our first good meal and last for awhile) and then we went to the local church, met and fellowshipped with the locals and the safwa renewing old acquaintances before doing our first night class on “Loving God and loving your neighbor” which was the first Unity lesson.

After the first night we went back to our “hotel” had cokes, reviewed the days events and retired for the night knowing that we would have to get up early the next day to get a 5 gallon bucket of hot water for our washing. (GOOD THING WE HAD WET WIPES.) We used local water for washing but had to use bottled water for all internal usages including brushing teeth.  Our breakfast consisted of 2 slices of bread and hot water for our instant coffee, some of us complemented this with peanut butter crackers and/or tortillas and peanut butter.  This process was repeated each day that we were in Songea; our lunch and evening meals were prepared by Tanzanians at the church and consisted primarily of rice and/or ugali, didn’t find any meat.  Ugali is a corn product very similar to our grits but eaten as cooked.  Post evaluation revealed that we preferred living in the villages as before rather than a hotel, it was quieter, there was more fellowship with the Africans and we had our own private “CHOO.”  Choo is the outdoor toilet.  The team lost perspective of time and days and had to be constantly reminded what day it was so we could stay on schedule.

My first day activity was outreach and although there was some resistance, we led three persons to Christ that first morning and received many requests for more training.  The outreach environment included invading work time, dealing with tribal languages (Swahili is the common, but each tribe has its own language and religions, including some witchcraft).  This was very fortunate because it placed us on even footing with Islam (more prominence due to time on location).  The second and third day I was in the classroom and on the third I attempted more outreach (which I love) but was unable to continue due to back issues.  The American team members carried bottled water and food for their respective team which included a translator and Safwa tribesmen and the terrain was very uneven knocking me out of the outreach activity so I ended up doing more classroom work which was okay but nothing compares to the outreach to people that want to hear more about what “thus saith the Lord.”

As is always the case, I had an experience that proves the wisdom of the Lord and it went like this:
Gen 6:5  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. KJV

One evening during our evening meal I asked to be taken back so that I could lie down for a few minutes before the evening message and picked up in time.  WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO ONE came back to pick me up and I was upset with my team, feeling I was left behind, not knowing if I should be angry with myself for leaving or with my team.  I waited from 6:45pm to 8:30pm.  In the meantime the lady that was the keeper of the “hotel” and others laughed at me because I could not speak the language, so to get them back, I used English and Spanish on them and laughed at them.  When I realized pride was in the way I changed the communication and took about 20 minutes to communicate that I wanted a phone book to call the local missionaries, they were unlisted.  Then I offered 10,000 shillings ($6.35 USD) to use her pay as you go cell phone to call our team lead and remind him that I was left behind.  After this was  communicated, finally, she gave me her phone and after dialing the number I got the message that there was no time left on her phone.  They do not have plans like we do, they pay as you go. THEN, I noticed a book “Biblia” on her desk and asked for it, and immediately went to Yohane tatu, John 3:16 and read it to her and this convinced her that I was fooling them and could actually speak Swahili and was sent to check on them. I managed to convince her that I could read some Swahili and since I knew what was said in English that it was easy for me. So then I went to Waruma (Romans 1-3 and then 6:23) and we had a wonderful Bible lesson instead of me having a pity party.  The next morning while enjoying sliced bread for breakfast, the impromptu Bible class told our translator about the class we had instead of my personal pity party and wanted to know how to get more “what thus saith the Lord.”  The lesson learned was instead of acting like Jonah, we should go with the flow like Noah and eliminate the proud pity parties.

As before I have learned some Swahili.  Most learning is oral, most cannot read or write in any language, but when they hear a story, they never forget it.  Being in Tz is a lot like living in the Old Testament.  One of the funniest things that I heard from my classroom translator was about a person coming from the States to teach them about financial planning and financial security (all of the Africans laughed when they heard this story being told to me), they live hand to mouth i.e. from one meal to the next and having money is not a common thing there.  Another funny was I gave the regional Safwa pastor and ball point pen and he later sent word to me asking if it was his to keep, I said yes and then he asked how to use it.  So I had to show him how to remove the cap exposing the ball point.  When you put this all together you have a people group of loving, gracious, beautiful people who wants to know about Jesus (Yesu) but few laborers are there for the harvest.

Below, I have a message from our Missions pastor who was in India with some of our high schoolers.

Hey Friends,

Greetings from Kolkata where I am having a great adventure with Kingsland’s high school seniors. I just checked my son Jonathan’s SPOT Tracker and it is now live and logging their progress across Tanzania. You can see exactly where our team is at the moment. The tracker refreshes a few times an hour. Gotta love this new technology.

Missions Pastor
Kingsland Baptist Church

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