A word from another Youth on our Tanzania Mission Team: 

Good morning! My name is Mary Beth Gentry and I am a junior at Dyersburg High School. I am a member of the team that traveled to Tanzania this July. I was blessed with so many wonderful experiences over those two weeks that it would be impossible for me to describe all of them to you in just a few minutes, so I tried to summarize it the best I could. The best way to describe the time our team spent in Africa is that it was full of surprises. 

For example, we were all surprised when we were able to see two lions up close in Serengeti National Park. We were even more surprised when part of the engine fell out of our safari vehicle and our driver Gabriel drove 200 yards in reverse in order to get us far enough away from the lions that he could get out and fix the vehicle. I was surprised when I stepped off the plane after landing in Ethiopia and saw a large, uncovered field full of suitcases. Apparently African airports deal with unclaimed baggage a little differently than we do here in the US. Another surprise was how excited the young people of Tarime were to see us. The school children ran up to us in the street and followed us as we walked through the village. They continuously whispered the swahili word “mazunga” to each other, a term that our translators said is the slang term for white people.

Our entire team was surprised by the spirit of the people in Tanzania. On the first day we had vacation Bible school, we attempted to teach the children a song, which was difficult to do through translators. We asked the children if they had a song they wanted to sing to us, and the response we got from them was amazing. The children started performing a song complete with harmonies, solos, and choreography. My mom was so impressed that the children were actually singing that she had tears in her eyes. We may not have known what they were singing, but we definitely knew who they were singing to, and it was awesome. After that, we spent more time listening to them than they did listening to us. I was also surprised by the hospitality from everyone we came in contact with. I did not meet a single person in Tarime that didn’t greet me with an energetic handshake or a hug. Everywhere we worked, we were offered a meal of the best they had to offer. The people of Tarime, and especially Mika United Methodist Church, treated us like close family.

Not all of the surprises were positive. During one of our seminar sessions, we asked the members of Mika UMC what they felt their biggest need was, the one problem that if solved, would make the greatest positive impact in their lives. Our team assumed that their answer would be the lack of a clean water source. However, almost everyone said that they worried most about the lack of healthcare in their area. I witnessed this lack of healthcare when Ed and I walked door to door with one of the leaders of the Mika Church. On this evangelism walk, we met an older woman named Leah. After talking with her and inviting her to church, we asked if she had anything she would like for us to pray about. She asked for us to pray for her health, then proceeded to show us several large tumors she had going down the side of her body.
She told us she could not afford to travel to a clinic that could help her. I left Leah’s house with a greater sense of perspective of what we are blessed with here in the United States. Those two weeks were full of so many surprises. Some were difficult to experience, but so many of them were wonderful to witness. God amazed me over the course of those two weeks, and I know none of it would have been possible without the generosity of this congregation, so I would like to thank you on behalf of myself, the mission team, and the congregation of Mika United Methodist Church. We are already looking forward to Tanzania 2020 and I hope that you will join us for some of the best and most important surprises God could ever offer you. For info on how you can help with Tanzania or other mission projects, contact Mandy Yates or our pastors. 

Sincerely in Christ’s service: Ed, Will and the First UMC Family