I wrote an article for a church publication about a year and a half ago. It never got published as the publication was discontinued. So, as the 2 year anniversary of my first missions trip has just passed (I went in July of 2012) I’ve decided to share that article here.
REMOVING MYSELF FROM THE MEDIOCRE
For years, I desperately wanted to go on a missions trip. I kind of waited around for things to fall into my lap because I never felt like I was in a place to seek out that sort of thing. However, it wasn’t until I made a serious, but easy, move that God met me there. After what seemed like an end to the road to Tanzania, God opened the door and allowed me to walk through it. So, through Apostolic Youth Corps (AYC), I participated in my first missions trip in July of 2012.
I blogged a little while I was there, and I want to share a few excerpts that attempt to capture some of my amazing experiences.
On July 16th – Tract distribution in Arusha around Esso church. Woah. There’s no way to describe the experience. I was humbled and baffled and blessed. I saw and smelt things most of the people I know never will. Seriously, it would blow some people’s minds. I was in a group of 7 from our AYC team, plus 4 Nationals. We walked through areas where people live (that didn’t look like people should live there) and some very populated marketplaces. I personally (for the first time in my life) passed out somewhere around 100 tracts. “Karibu (Welcome),” I would say with a smile, and most responded, “Asante (Thank you).” Then the average recipient would quickly and eagerly begin reading the handout. Wow. Just wow. They are so hungry.
On July 20th – I’m sitting in my hotel room in Arusha, Tanzania. I can hear the sounds of cars driving on the “wrong” side of the road below. A lot of honking goes on around here. Best I can tell, there are no street laws. No speed limits, no traffic lights, and no stopping for pedestrians. People just go, whether by motor vehicle, motor bike, bicycle, foot, or donkey. We’ve done a lot of “going” on this trip. Yesterday, we went from our campsite (the real deal, I might add…amazing under the beautiful African night sky) to a Tanzanite mining village called Mirerani to pass out tracts and hold street services. Our method of transportation was a small jeep that we managed to fit 17 people into…African style, they told us. The riding and the driving. Woah…the driving. That man was going. We got to the village and split into groups. My group went through one of the more intense experiences as we were nearly mobbed. Thankfully, a National was with us and knew when to leave. Once we got out of that situation, another arose as immigration was called on us. Bro. Richard Smoak got that taken care of, and the mission proved totally worth the effort. At least one of the Maasai men that received a tract that morning came to the crusade we had yesterday evening and received the Holy Ghost!
On July 22nd – Bro. Richard Smoak received word today that over 400 were in attendance at the crusade in Majengo Kia – where we were passing out tracts and participating in services on Wednesday and Thursday – last night. And 28 received the Holy Ghost! We passed out tracts in Esso today. People were stopping their vehicles to get one. And the Muslims (heavy population in that area) were taking them from us instead of walking by, which is what would typically happen. God is so good. He loves everyone. Every personality. Every nationality.
On July 23rd – It’s early Monday morning here in Tanzania. In an hour or so, we will be loading up to go pray at Esso church – where 17 children and 6 adults were filled with the Holy Ghost yesterday! – Then, we’ll return to our hotel to quickly clean up, eat, and make the journey to the airport. I’ve experienced things and encountered people that will forever change my life. And I am so grateful for that. I don’t know if I’ll ever visit Tanzania again. I would like to. But if I don’t, like Pastor Yusufu said yesterday, I will see these people in Heaven. That hit me hard. Wow. What an amazing privilege living for God’s Kingdom.
The trip to Tanzania was, for me, an eruption of emotions. I encountered everything from happiness, sadness, hope, despair, excitement, disappointment, grief, relief, awe, amazement, joy, and gratefulness. Every emotion was worth it. As I expected, I was changed. But the change didn’t come like I expected. I did not feel this overwhelming shift in my spirit or thinking immediately. Rather, it’s been an ongoing process. A process that has literally changed my life. A process that continues as I witness hungry people all around me and I realize that I hold those people’s connection to God. I’ve learned that the people in the United States are different in that they wear many masks trying to cover up pain and need, but they are also hungry, and they need God just like the people of Africa. I’ve been convicted about this recently, and God has stirred my soul. I want to see the people in the United States in Heaven too. I want to stop living a mediocre life and seek out the blessings God has for me and for others, through me, every single day, whether in North America or Africa.