Tuesday, 1 July 2014

TANZANIA, HERE WE COME......








You may want to pour yourself a cup of Java for this one, as it is a bit lengthy but I’m sure entertaining.

Wow, the journey to Tanzania was quite an adventure!  I was really seeking God about whether I was to go or not, as previously I had been seriously sick for several weeks.  The doctor was strictly advising me not to eat out ANYWHERE due to the number of bacterial infections I had through food contamination.  How does a Pastor in Kenya not eat out?  They serve us something to eat, at almost every fellowship meeting? 
So I took my inquiry higher and sought the Lord of heaven and earth.  I didn't want to stop going because of fear but I also didn't want to go if He didn't want me to.  I needed clarity and discernment.

After the Lord woke me at 2 am to pray and worship, I became grounded in a clear answer.  However it wasn't a celebratory word to run off with.  It was a heads up that we needed to go prepared in our hearts because there would be challenges.  He gave me the scripture from Psalm 34:19 which says; “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but God delivers him out of them all.”

Not exactly the sendoff I was hoping for?  He also said it was important that we operated in unity and that Silas and I were often, to preach together.  I guess that meant I needed to go?  In the previous week God had also given me another word but I was unclear what it was for until this time of prayer, when He made it clear it was for our trip. 

He said He was shining his light on the enemy’s tactics so that we could hit him clearly and accurately.  If he is operating in the dark, you can’t see him and you can swing and miss.  It wasn't cause to fear when we saw his works, but to take courage so we could eradicate his plans through prayer, striking directly and forcefully. 

I really had to pray through some trepidation.  The words I got, did not make me any more eager to go, but after that night in prayer, I had peace and assurance.  Not only was it clear that God wanted me to go, but He assured me that we weren't going alone.  He would be with us, making a way through each and every obstacle that would come.  He was greater than any enemy.  My heart was settled.  I was strengthened, confident and felt prepared and anointed for the work ahead.

So we set off with our team of six on Wednesday April 16 with a 17 hour road journey ahead of us.  We had hoped to take our Pajero but it wasn't working so we all had to squeeze into the Mercedes.  Our first challenge was met at the boarder of Kenya, when they weren't satisfied with the documents we had for Ephraim and threatened to ARREST our six year old son!  My heart was relocated somewhere in my throat before I remembered God’s word and began to pray. 

When the boarder officer found out that we were going to Tanzania to preach the Good News, he stamped his approval and mentioned that we would need to apply for another visa for Ephraim on the way back and pay the fee.  No problem utters my husband, without a note of concern, as I considered turning back right then and there!  What if we have the same problem upon our return but it doesn't go as well? 

Weighing the possibility that they had rights to arrest my son was a fearful consideration.  Then God’s peace came and the Holy Spirit prodded me along, assuring me that He had called me to go, and He would therefore take care of such details.  I was just to obey.  I relented and onward we went….

Once we crossed over into Tanzania, we were stopped many times along the way and harassed by the police.  At the first stop they detained us for about 45 mins as Silas and pastor Hosea try to negotiate with the officer who wanted give us a steep fine for not having a fire extinguisher in the vehicle.  Silas tried to reason with them, that we were not a commercial vehicle, why would we need a fire extinguisher?  We prayed!  They released us without a fine.  Praise God! 

After being stopped a couple more times about this issue, we conceded and just paid the fine, uncertain if we would ever make it there if we didn't.  This didn't detour the others from stopping us, still detaining us with inquiries, checking our trunk and vehicle and demanding to see the receipt of the paid fine. 

We even had a bold officer asking for a little something to buy a soda, after all we were traveling with a mazungu (a white person, whom many assume are rich) in a Mercedes, we must have something we could give him!  It was frustrating!  My husband later confessed upon our return that he really considered turning back on many occasions.

As we drove into the night we outran a storm across the Serengeti, which resembled the beginning stages of a tornado in Canada.  We managed to stay ahead of the storms that chased us on either side of our vehicle and roads.  It was unreal!  The scene, although foreboding, was radically beautiful, as the sun was setting and a rainbow tagged the back end of the storm.  It was invigorating!  Unfortunately my camera couldn't keep up with our speed.


A blurred version of the end of the storm across the Serengeti.

All was well, until later into the night, we blew a tire in the middle of obscure, deep darkness of the Serengeti!  The worse and most dangerous place for such an issue to occur.  The question was….did we have a spare and where on earth would we find help?  But it came as no surprise to God, He had already sent someone who just “happen” to be walking out there, right were we pulled over.

The man was very kind and immediately offered to help.  Oh, did I mention that when we got out of the vehicle to change the tire, it began to rain?  What was also neat, was before we left home that day, God sent me back for a flashlight.  I wasn't sure where it was located so I was going to leave without it but God reminded me where it was.  I went to pack it in our suitcase but the Holy Spirit told me to put it in my purse.  So I did.  I was glad I listened because there are no lights out on the Serengeti.  It’s darker than dark, especially when it is cloudy!

In a short time, the tire was changed and we were on our way.  We had to contact Titus because we were far behind our planned time.  When we finally made it to Mwanza where we met Titus and were to take the ferry across, it was too late and the ferry had already stopped running.  We were exhausted and very hungry and now had to find a place to stay, and fork out the added expense of housing seven people.

We thought it was a simple enough problem, except it was Easter weekend and no one had any vacancies, uuuugggg!  Titus came back with some good news and some bad news.  He had found a suitable place for all of us to stay, however there was no food.  Sure….just try telling my very tired, hungry six year old who has traveled for over 14 hours, that he now has to go to bed without dinner…

My husband joked that we know how to abase and abound, how we can do all things through Christ Jesus.  Tonight we would abase….We all laughed and agreed as we ate some bread and yogurt before bed.  A combination that even appeased our son.  The conclusion of our evening around one am, as we headed to bed, resulted in Ephraim accidentally spilling an entire bottle of water in our bed that all three of us were to sleep in!  Unbelievable! 

So we slept in a puddle of water, or should I say, my husband slept in a puddle of water.  We put him in the middle because he is the only one who can bear with Ephraim’s kicking in the night without waking up.  He wasn't comfortable with the blanket I had so carefully folded, to cover the spill, so he opted for getting wet.  It was so hot and we were so exhausted from our 6 am start that day that frankly he didn't care.  None of us did.  We will abase some more.

We started early the next morning, packed tight like a bunch of Sardines.  Between the luggage for six and some much needed supplies that Titus brought, we now squeezed seven creatively stuffing supplies in every inch of space.  Ephraim, now weighing close to 60 pounds was forced to sit on my lap, for what were told would be a short 2 hour ride.  Turns out African time is a bit different than ours and it took us almost 5!  Needless to say it took a bit of convincing to get my legs to function when it was time to be emptied out of the vehicle.  LOL!


The ferry ride at Mwanza.

We thank God that we arrived safely after such an adventure!  The ministry time was wonderful.  We were warmly welcomed and right away Pastor Silas and Pastor Hosea taught a bit about the water baptism and then baptized the children as we all praised God together.  The next day the crusade started.  Pastor Titus had invited a number of worship teams, who danced and sang before the Lord.  They drew quite a crowd with their vibrant praises and colorful dress.  It was beautiful!


The water Baptisms.
I taught and Silas preached mightily.  We tag teamed a couple of times and Pastor Hosea also had opportunities to preach and teach and tag teamed with Silas.  Several people gave their hearts to Christ and came to the altar for healing.  The multitudes grew and grew and by the time the last day came we had well over 500. 


A small portion of the crowd that had gathered.

I have been shocked to see just how many of the crowds here in Africa, are children.  I went home with a deep conviction of the importance of raising up children in the full ministry works of God.  What better to way to minister to children but with children?  Ephraim has really picked up such a hunger for the Word of God, asking me to read to him frequently and his prayers are tender, spoken from the heart of someone who knows who His God is. 

I have wept on many occasions when he has asked to pray for me or a friend.  The tenderness and childlike confidence stirs ones heart, as we marvel at God.  We have even seen a couple of his friends instantly healed by God as he prayed.  It is a beautiful thing to witness.  I am praying for a bit more boldness for him as he is still a bit shy but he is growing and taking steps of faith.  We are so proud of him!

The other area I was convicted about was to continue to pursue teaching worship through dance, even though it has been a bit hard to get off the ground.  I observed how vital it is.  It is one thing to hear worship, where you can stand far off, listening but if you want to see worship you have to come close.  So go ahead and step closer into the anointing, and see Who you will meet!  I am excited about what God is laying in my heart!

Some of the beautifully colored worship.


So as we wrapped up all our sessions and it was time for us to go, unexpectedly the vehicle would not start.  It appeared the battery had been drained.  By the time it was up and running, combined with how late our sessions ran, we were forced to stay another unplanned night.  We would not be able to make the ferry back to the mainland and it wasn't a safe place for us to stay near the ferry.

The chief of that region, (a government official and kind man of God) invited us a second time to eat dinner at his house.  As we were sitting, the Lord told me that we needed to pray for this man’s health, specifically for his leg and heart.  It turns out his leg had a severe injury with an infection and cancer that was not responding to any treatment and the doctors could do nothing more for him. 

The wound had festered and was oozing and weeping, leaving his pants blood stained.  He had been feverish, in great amounts of pain and unable to work much.  He even feared losing his job.  We prayed!  God answered!  We receive the report just this past week that he is totally healed and back at work!  What a mighty God we serve!

That opportunity probably never would have happened had we of left when we had planned because we wouldn't have been there for dinner.  God’s Word in
Jer 29:11 are echoing in my heart as I write; For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future.  Although it wasn't in our plans to stay another night, we can trust that He has good plans for all our lives.

So we started out very early the next morning, and our adventuresome journey continued.  We got pushed and pinched out of there by some very unruly ANTS!  As we were loading up the vehicle in the dark, we unknowingly were stepping into the living room of some, now, very angry red stinging ants!

I had to go back into the bedroom and clear them out from….you guessed it may pants.  They apparently hitchhiked for some of the ride home, as both Silas and I were still clearing them out of our shirts, socks, back and hair as we continued to travel.  What a sendoff!

We made it across the ferry with no incidents and the rest of the way to the boarder was pretty uneventful.  The police stopped us only once on our return.  I guess with our Kenyan license plates and heading back to the Kenya boarder, we no longer posed any threat.  Our first challenge came when we went into the immigration office of Tanzania, preparing to cross back into Kenya. 


The Serengeti during the day with Wilda beast grazing.

Apparently unknown to us, the officer that assisted us and stamped all the passports, forgot to stamp Silas’s.  To make matters worse they were blaming Silas, that he has entered the country illegally?!  Things were getting rather heated as my husband was asking how he can be held accountable for a work that wasn't his to do.  Is he the one to stamp the passport?

It was like salt to a wound, because the officer that originally helped us, was very arrogant and rude with Silas, so Silas really believes the officer deliberately caused this problem.   .  I began to pray and Silas inquired what they recommend we do, now that is error had occurred.  They responded saying that due to it being Easter weekend, the officer that does the stamping won’t return for two days and we should wait and come back then.  Imagine! 

We said surely there must be another way, another option?  The officer then relented and said we could try going to the Kenya immigration office and ask them to cancel the exiting the country so it would be like he never entered Tanzania.  Ridiculous, but a much more expedient option than waiting two days!

We approached the Kenyan immigration with some reluctance, knowing that we now had two challenging issues to overcome.  The officer was quit kind and had no problem canceling the exit stamp.  So we then informed him of the challenges with Ephraim.  He immediately mention that he should arrest Ephraim and I began to pray feverishly.  He soon recommended that we fill in a new visitor’s visa application for Ephraim and pay the amount and that would resolve everything.  We thank Him and God and stepped outside to complete the form, to allow the officer to continue serving other people.

All was well until the officer’s boss entered the office, saw the Mazungu and wanted more money.  As we went to enter the office with our completed form, the whole atmosphere had changed.  The boss began threatening to arrest our six year old son.  Silas tried to speak and reason with him, as Ephraim is of Kenyan descent and considered a dependent in the country because his father is Kenyan.  The officer who was now quite annoyed and adamantly, told us to wait right there and he would be back. 

We didn't know if he was returning with police guards to haul Ephraim off or arrest my husband?  We just didn't know?!  I called home and asked them to pray!  To our surprise moments later, who should appear but a dear friend of ours Albert, who happened to be on his way to do some more work in Tanzania, when my mother in law, saw him and greeted him.  Then she sent him our way.  Turns out that Albert knew people at the office who could help.

Within a short period of time, we had a new visa for Ephraim and all our issues were resolved!  We marveled at God and how faithful He was to perfect everything that concerns us! (Ps. 138:8)  If we had left the day before, as we had planned, we never would have met Albert at the border and Ephraim may have been arrested?!  What a remarkable God we serve!

As we went to leave, the car wouldn't start.  Turns out that Silas accidentally left the lights on the vehicle and we were clearly having troubles with our battery.  With the help of some good Samaritans who gave us a boost, we were soon on our way.  We thanked Albert for all his help and he insisted that we stop at his house for some tea and snacks.  He saw how stressed and weary we all were after all the ministering and traveling and stress at the border.

Silas reluctantly conceded and stopped at Albert’s.  As we were about to enter Albert’s compound, the vehicle got stuck on a large mound of dirt and we all had to exit the car while it was pushed across.  When Silas went to start the vehicle again, it refused but this time it wasn't the battery.  It appears we would be spending the night.  It was late and we were all exhausted, so it was just as well.

By the time we had dinner and were showed our rooms it was 130 am!  What a crazy journey.  We fell into bed completely spent!  It was good timing as we all really needed the rest.  We were able to start the rest of our journey home feeling much stronger and ready for the day.  Many hours later we all made it home safe and sound.  We were grateful to be home!

A couple of weeks later we received another testimony of what God did while we were in Tanzania.  There was a family that requested Silas to go and pray for his daughter.  She had been completely paralyzed and unresponsive, unable to speak or move.  She had been in this state for over 3 months and the doctors could find nothing wrong and had no answers for the family.  Silas and Titus prayed and God answered.  She is now up and walking and talking to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ, the great and mighty healer!

During this trip we witnessed how God watched over His word to preform it.  We did face a number of challenges but God delivered us out of each one just as He promised!  We sent His pockets of provision waiting for us at every opportunity that the enemy took to cause us problems.  We saw how Christ always leads us in victory, if we will turn to Him and obey what He tells us to do.  It was wonderful to see Him do what only He can do!