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Up Hill Both Ways

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By Ross Sinclair

Today marked the first full day of training for the Safwa. Bill and I continued teaching the church planting material. We reviewed the person of peace material and identified 5 roles of the church. During this training we received a report regarding the progress of the Safwa church planting efforts. We heard about the successes and struggles of local congregations in the Usangu area. There was a good report from a church in the Taturu area. The most encouraging report was from a church in the Bungu area. This church has struggled for the past 10 years. It now has some strong leadership and has grown to around 80 people.

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Churches in other areas of Tanzania have heard about the work of the Safwa. Some of them have requested Safwa teams to come and teach their congregations how to do Bible story evangelism and church planting techniques. Please pray that the Lord will continue to bless these efforts and that He would provide the funds for the new opportunities.

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Gil and Carmen’s team provided training for teaching the kids. After lunch Terry, Carmen, Melinda, Joseph, and Brianna walked to a local primary school for a visit. This is the point where Carmen went “beyond.” According to Carmen she walked uphill both ways to the school. The 45-minute walk was near vertical at points. It was at this point she admitted that she hated Joseph and Brianna for being young. She hated Bill for telling her to go. She hated Gil because he could not go. Upon return to the camp she underwent post-excursion counseling while she picked grass burrs out of her skirt. She took a nap and is fine now, but she has earned the nickname “Evil Eye” for the look she has in the picture above.

Here is the list of nicknames so far:

Bill is known as 1 1/2 times. Use this multiplier to any time estimate Bill gives you.
Curtis is known as Twinkle Toes
Terry is still known as Inspector Gadget
Gil is still known as No Hablo
Carmen is now known as Evil Eye
Ross is known as Last Rights Ross
Brianna is now known as Pigtails. This is up for a new nickname because she updated her passport photo.
Melinda: None yet (stay tuned)
Joseph: None yet (stay tuned)

Please continue to lift us up in prayer.

The Lord’s Day in Tanzania

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By Ross Sinclair

Wow, I don’t know where to start. The Lord’s day in Tanzania is always special. Carmen got things going by teaching the adult bible study. She did a great job teaching on the life of Joseph.

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Brianna got in the mix with a testimony about God’s sovereignty, His forgiveness and His restoration.

Gil preached on Daniel. I’ve seen speakers use a podium as a crutch but this is the first time I have seen a crutch used as a podium.

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Joseph, Brianna, and Melinda taught the children’s Sunday school. There were about 20 kids at the start and about 50 at the end. We are working with the Safwa on ways to effectively reach the children with the gospel.

Terry and others visited a local primary school teacher to get permission for our group to visit the school tomorrow afternoon.

Bill, Curtis, and I provided a lesson on Church planting and how to identify a person of peace.

It’s hard not to compare American Christianity with what we see here. In the US we have a wealth of resources but we choose to be unhappy. In TZ believers have few resources but they worship with such joy. Bill said it best. It’s like looking at an X-ray and the news isn’t good.  Too often we forfeit the joy that is found in Christ. I want the kind of joy that I see in the faces of my Tanzanian brothers and sisters in Christ.

After church activities included dinner on the grounds with music provided by Marvin Gaye, Elvis, and CCR. In the spirit of the World Cup we had a futbol game of sorts. The ball was an empty water bottle and the goal was marked by two dirt clods. The kids took turns shooting penalty kicks at a former goalie that was well past his prime. It was a good time for all.

You are all probably familiar with the US Marine motto of semper fidelis always faithful and the US Coast Guard semper paratus always prepared. Our motto has been semper Gumby always flexible. Bill got the word at 5:30pm that one of the Muzungu would be preaching tonight at 8:30pm. Bill looked deep into the bullpen and I got the nod. I was Ryan Rush-like and finished in 20 minutes short by TZ standards. The moral to the story is to be flexible and be prepared.

The first opportunity for a bath was today. Most of us opted out. We will see who can hold out the longest.

Tanzania or Bust

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By Ross Sinclair

After 32 hours of straight travel we finally made it to the village of Ifumbo. It is a beautiful place. I imagine this is what Eden may have liked like.

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The trip has had its interesting moments. First you will notice that Gil is not in the group picture. Gil twisted his ankle a few weeks prior to the trip. This injury afforded him VIP treatment. He had an airport entourage that wheeled him from gate to gate. He got priority treatment and he used a fast pass to go through security. Consequently, he spent his time in Istanbul sequestered from the rest of the group. He said he didn’t like it but I think he really enjoyed all the attention. I’m thinking of faking a hamstring injury so I can join him on the way home.

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We had on crisis moment at the DAR airport. Terry and his passport and boarding pass got separated as he went through security. That can be a desperate situation when you are over seas. Lesser men would have crumbled under the pressure but Terry never lost his calm demeanor. Literally a few minutes before our flight was to leave his passport was turned in to security. Praise The Lord!

We are spending the afternoon resting and visiting with our Safwa brothers and sisters. Apparently we are still tired.  Inspector gadget, Terry is trying to convince the group that there is a mongoose hanging upside down from a tree in camp. There will be more discussion on the mongoose situation but generally group hallucinations are not pretty. More nicknames to come!

2013 Trip Recap

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by Ross Sinclair

The team has been back from Tanzania for more than two weeks now. With the return to work and other activities it’s almost impossible to not get drawn back into the fast-paced, busy schedule of the average American. I want to share my reflections on this year’s trip while things are still fresh on my heart and mind.

First of all I consider it a privilege and a blessing to participate in this mission trip. My family was well represented. The Sinclairs have a legacy of faith that we have seen demonstrated in the life of our father and grandfather, “Babu.” I’ve observed my Dad’s servant-leadership for my entire life.  His passion for Christ and reaching the lost is something I hope to pass on to my own children and grand children.

The question I get asked the most is, “What did you do in Tanzania?” My mind immediately begins the impossible task of trying to condense 2 weeks worth of sights, sounds, and experiences into a two-minute summary. Here’s my attempt to answer the following question: What did we do?

Our mornings were spent conducting “door-to-door” evangelism visits with the Safwa and the local church members. We went to homes in and near the towns of Mjele and Mjelenge. We even got an opportunity to present the gospel via Bible Storying in the local secondary school. The gospel was presented to people from the Safwa, Songwe, Sukuma, Taturu, and Maasi tribes. The names and locations of those who made decisions for Christ were given to local congregations for follow-up. Some of the new believers even committed to host a new “home church” in the more remote locations. In all, approximately 50-60 people accepted Christ, with even more rededications.

In the afternoons, we trained 25 of the 36 Safwa missionaries who joined us in Mjele. The team is made up of some pastors, but mostly lay people from about 20 congregations in the Mbeya region of Tanzania. Team members have committed to memorizing more than 70 Bible stories and participating in evangelism efforts in the area. We provided an evangelism/discipleship training method based on Luke 10 called the “Church Planting Movement.” As a part of that training, we helped the Safwa develop a strategy for reaching and discipling the 35,000 member Bungu tribe, an unreached people group in western Tanzania. The CPM lessons emphasized the need for discipleship training.

The afternoons also gave an opportunity to conduct doctrinal training for the local congregation in Mjele. Our group taught lessons on the Holy Spirit, but also fielded questions on a wide range of topics including demonic possession and polygamy.

On Sunday, our team conducted Sunday school and preaching at 4 different locations. Each team had a very unique experience. My daughter, Kaylyn, and I went two to three miles outside of Mjele to where the Sukuma and Taturu tribes lived. We thought we were going to a church building in a village, but our vehicle stopped in the middle of the woods where we saw only two houses. As soon as we got out, the Safwa began to sing hymns, and within 15 minutes 35 people had gathered. Everyone sat on the trunk of a downed tree and listened to the lesson and the preaching. There were 10 decisions for Christ that morning, and a new “home church” was born. Pretty exciting stuff!

Forty solar-powered audio players were left for use in Tanzania. Each audio player was loaded with 72 Bible stories and 10 “True Love Waits” lessons recorded in Swahili. The Safwa will distribute them to local congregations in the Mbeya area. A few will be distributed by a Zambian missionary doing outreach with the Sukuma tribe in the Usangu valley. Our translators, all college students with the Tanzanian Fellowship of Evangelical Students based in Dar Es Salaam, received flash drives loaded with these same bible stories. They also received audio players for their evangelism efforts. At $15 each these audio players are a cost-effective tool to present the gospel.

Sure, the trip was a blessing. It was fun and exciting, but was it successful? We may not know the real answer until eternity, but I think the answer is yes. Here’s why.

• People were reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
• The Safwa were excited to implement the principles that were covered in the training.
• The local church and the Safwa were strengthened and encouraged by our teaching and fellowship.
• We were strengthened and encouraged by seeing how God used us in ministry, and by new and renewed relationships with our African brothers and sisters in Christ.
• We provided resources and helped equip the Tanzanians to reach their country for Christ.

Thank you for your prayer support.

Your brother in Christ,
Ross Sinclair

Bound for Houston

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By David Sinclair

We arrived safely in Dar Es Salaam last night. It took a little longer than we had planned, but all went well.

We are at the airport checked in and ready to go. I will provide one last update to let those who are meeting us in Houston know if the flight from Dubai leaves on time.

Once again, thank you for your continued prayers for the team. It has been a great trip.

Blessings all,
David

Resting, Recharging, & Repacking at Rusha

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By David Sinclair

Greetings.

The team spent the last day getting some rest at Rusha, our midway point from Mjele to Dar Es Saalm. It is now 8:40 am and we are on the road making our final push to Dar. We are expecting a 10 hour trip today. Please continue to lift us up as we travel.

Blessings all,
David

A Maasi Question

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By David Sinclair

Greetings from Camp Mjele.

The wind and dust is absolutely brutal this evening, but we had a fantastic day of ministry. Me and Carol covered preaching and teaching assignments in Mjele. Ross, Kaylyn, and Curtis handled responsibilities at the Taturu village.  Reagan, Shelby, and Holloway were at the church in Njelenge (preaching twice) and Bill, Terry, and Michelle hiked for 1.5 hours into and 2 hours out of the mountains to visit a Nsongwe village.

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Bill and his team left at 7:00 am and did not return until 7:00 pm. Bill assured me this morning they had all the logistical details worked out and that they were taking a short cut. I told him if his team did not return that his last recorded words would be “I’m taking a short cut.” The team was led up the steep trail by an 80 year old pastor wearing street shoes. After a few missed rendezvous opportunities we finally picked them up a couple of hours before dark. During the trip, a member of a neighboring Maasi tribe wanted to know why their village has not been visited. This problem will be solved tomorrow as a team will return to the mountains.

Another team will also visit the local school tomorrow to share the gospel. While our time slot for this opportunity is very narrow, it will be another great opportunity to reach the community.

Please continue to lift us up as our last full day of ministry is tomorrow. It’s been encouraging to see the response to the gospel in this area.

Blessings all,
David

TZ 2013 Camp Life

Life at Camp Mjele.

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