This year a group from Mid-South District LCMS went to a new district of the Southeast of Lake Victoria Diocese called Meatu. Not only was it a new district but it had a new district Pastor Patrick Zengo. Patrick was ordained in 2014 after completion of his seminary training.
Meatu is a hot dry region located 3 hours north and east of Shinyanga. It’s eastern border is the Serengeti National Park. Christianity has been slow in coming to Meatu and the surrounding area and its 250,000 plus population, I am told because missionaries did not like the heat and the roads were often not passable during the rainy season months.
Meatu is a large district about the size of Davidson, Sumner and Robertson counties in Middle Tennessee and is served by Pastor Patrick and 3 other area pastors. There was only one village we visited where we met people who attended churches other than Lutheran Church.
Planning these mission trips are not easy for the District Pastor or the Diocese offices and they work very hard to find a place for us to stay, that is secure and can provide us with safe, clean food. These outreach events for all the people in the team along with the Tanzanians who accompany us is a lot of work. They also need to schedule Pastors and translators. In each village we need an evangelist and elders who know the area and can direct us to the homes.. And of course there is the need for transportation. Our hosts are happy to do this because they welcome mission teams. They stay with us the entire time, working hard to make sure we are taken care of and understand how much they appreciate the partnership they have with us. They feel honored that we would come to their country and region to help them share the Gospel message.
Each day we drove for 30 or 40 minutes to a new village. There our group of 9 was divided into 3 or 4 teams. Each team was assigned a Pastor, an interpreter, a local member of the congregation or evangelist. In some cases it is necessary to have someone who can translate from Sukuma to Swahili. As we spread out there is an air of excitement as people are naturally curious about the mzungus from America. They like to hear our voices and I am sure we look strange wearing large floppy hats to shield us from sun as we are right under the equator. There usually is a gaggle of young children trailing along with us to see what is happening.
The Tanzanian people are an extremely hospitable people who welcome us into their home area. They give us the best seats in the house and listen intently to the Gospel message. Often after sharing a message in one home we are escorted to their neighbors. They want their friends and relatives hear this Good News as well.
We look forward to another trip in 2016. We are making plans for the last two weeks in May. Come join us. We will be going to another remote area.
Check out the new South East of Lake Victoria diocese web site http://elct-selvd.org/