Kwa Jina la Baba, na la Mwana, na la Roho Mtakatifu

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September 23, 2015 by Pastor Ben McIntire

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit…

I have to thank my brothers and sisters of St. Mark: “Asante Sana!” for the generous support of Monica and my trip to visit our companion congregation in Lupembe Tanzania.

Lupembe Lutheran Church across a tea field

Lupembe Lutheran Church across a tea field

This opportunity helped us broaden our knowledge of the culture and people of Tanzania, as well as our perspective on many things like the Christian mission and community, poverty and hunger, world politics and policies, and even economics. I am currently writing an in-depth account of the trip, our experiences and what we learned, which will be posted here on the PB&J blog. Throughout October you’ll be able to read chapter-by-chapter about what we saw, the people we met, and what a visit to Africa was like to a first time traveler. Also, we were able to capture some stunning images of African landscapes, wildlife, people and places. Prints of these pictures are available for sale at the church as part of the continued fundraising for the trip and perhaps even future visits by St. Mark or Lupembe members. Because, one thing we learned from this visit was that the best way to build our companion relationship is for us to actually meet and share with one another the ministries, hopes, dreams, challenges, and joys that we experience in our communities.

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In the meantime, here is a brief version of the McIntires’ Tanzania safari and what we encountered:

After the cancellation of the ELCT Youth Gathering in Dodoma, Tanzania (which was the original reason for our trip) we found that we were still able to use the airline tickets that were purchased and non-refundable. Since the second half of our trip was to visit Lupembe and our companion congregation members, and plans had been made in those seven churches for our arrival, we rescheduled the beginning of our itinerary. On arrival in Tanzania late Friday evening, we stayed in Dar es Salaam, then rose for an early morning flight to Zanzibar.

Fishing dhow at low tide Nungwe, Zanzibar

Fishing dhow at low tide
Nungwe, Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a fascinating island, a blend of African, Arab and Indian influences. The azure beaches, spice markets, fishing dhows, and laid-back atmosphere reminded me of Caribbean islands that I’ve visited. The favorite saying in the tourist areas for which Zanzibar is famous is “Hakuna matata, pole-pole…” (Pronounced poh-lay poh-lay). Which means, “no worries, take it easy!” We poked around Stone Town and tried to absorb as much of the history and culture of the place as possible. While the population is 95% Muslim, Christian churches and Hindu temples can also be found. Probably the most moving experience was our tour of the Anglican Cathedral which was built on the site of the old slave market.

Monument to those sold as slaves, Anglican Cathedral, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Monument to those sold as slaves, Anglican Cathedral, Stone Town, Zanzibar

There in front of the altar was a circular spot on the floor which marked the place where the whipping post once stood. There each slave was chained and whipped before being sold; the more lashes a slave could take, the stronger they were believed and the higher their value to buyers. Underneath the church we saw the dungeons where slaves were kept until market day.

Dungeon under the slave market in Zanzibar

Dungeon under the slave market in Zanzibar

Up to fifty men were chained and jammed into a tiny room with only two small air slits. A trough ran through the middle for waste and the inevitable dead body as many people died from injury, disease or asphyxiation. Next door was a slightly larger room where seventy-five women and children were held in identical conditions. It was a terrible sight. The church was built over this horror as a symbol of the reversal of human cruelty by the grace of the divine.

Elephants in Ruaha National Park

Elephants in Ruaha National Park

On Wednesday, we left behind those awful images and traveled to Ruaha National Park to bask in the grandeur of God’s creation. On this safari we saw zoo animals in their real, natural lives. We saw twega (giraffes), nyati (Cape buffalo), tembo (elephants), simba (lions), kiboko (hippos), chui (leopards), mamba (crocodiles), and punda milia (zebras) which literally translates as “striped donkey.” This was truly a “Bucket List” experience and I’m so thankful to have included this safari on our visit to Tanzania. It helps drive home the importance of caring for creation, land and water, wildlife, and the impoverished people who have to find a way to survive while living alongside these precious and endangered animals and places.

Giraffe in Ruaha National Park

Giraffe in Ruaha National Park

Saturday found us finally making our way to our companion congregation in Lupembe. We were greeted by church members who guided us, singing, into the church for a welcome ceremony. We stayed at the Center for Agricultural Development (CAD) which is one of the primary ministries Western Iowa Synod partners with the Southern Diocese of Tanzania to operate. The CAD has a large tea farm and tries to generate funds for training programs for local small-hold farmers to learn better and more efficient agricultural practices so they may better feed their families and earn more income from higher yields. Each day in Lupembe Parish we traveled to the preaching points, which are actually congregations in themselves. We discovered to our astonishment that many of these congregations are about the same size as St. Mark. The seven in Lupembe Parish are Lupembe, Ihang’ana, Udinda, Mbato, Uwanginyi, Kanikelele, and Igumbilo. Pastor Yohana Bimbiga is the district pastor who serves Lupembe Parish and the surrounding district; his assistant is Pastor Nelson Godiwe who serves only Lupembe Parish; and the evangelists of the parish make up the leadership at each of the preaching points.

Left to right: District Pastor Yohana Bimbiga, Pastor Ben, Pastor Nelson Godiwe

Left to right: District Pastor Yohana Bimbiga, Pastor Ben, Pastor Nelson Godiwe

During our visit we inaugurated the new Parish Office which is being built next to Lupembe Church, dedicated two church buildings at Udinda and Kanikelele, and I baptized two babies and presided at communion at Igumbilo Church. Not to mention, preaching at six of the seven churches! Finally, we concluded our time in the Southern Diocese by visiting Bishop Isaiah Mengele at the diocese office, Ilembula Hospital, and Igumbilo Girls’ Secondary School.

Processional at Udinda Lutheran Church

Processional at Udinda Lutheran Church

We have definitely returned with a new perspective on our own lives, and life in general. We are better informed to be citizens of the world, and better prepared to think about Christian community and the way it transcends human barriers and borders. We carry with us the hopes and worries, joys and prayers of Lutheran brothers and sisters who live much differently from us and who look far different from us. We know how much it means to both American and Tanzanian to be united in the love of Christ and the grace of God. And we know how abundantly we are blessed.

Pastor Nelson Godiwe Lupembe, Tanzania

Pastor Nelson Godiwe
Lupembe, Tanzania

Check out the up-coming stories of the trip here on the blog and you can see a couple of videos from our trip on Youtube by clicking below!

McIntires’ Tanzania Safari – short version 7min

McIntires’ Tanzania Safari – with Lupembe interviews 20min

Mungu awabariki – God bless you all!
Pastor Ben

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2 thoughts on “Kwa Jina la Baba, na la Mwana, na la Roho Mtakatifu

  1. Woohoo profoundly delighted to hear/see/your Dar-Zan-Tan-safarini-ing… greetings Monica/Ben/kids from Lyle & Lavon, the Lutzes in Centerville MN since Febr 2014… yeah, inexorable progression of Parkinson nudged us back to Minn-ee-soh-tah and our 33 yrs connection to the professionals/volunteers/therapies for PD + other movement disorders at Struthers Parkinson Center of Excellence here in Golden Valley on west side of Mpls. Been busy 20 months since leaving Fontanelle, catching up on various aspects of Lavon’s now-36 yrs safari with Parky… she for first time ever now has a FEMALE neurologist, neat.

    We transferred from Salem mbrship/Creston to Living Waters ELCA in Lino Lakes, just 3 miles from our door to our church, plus pastor Kathryn Tiede by total serendipity-ness is not only daughter Luther Sem former president Dave Tiede, but one of Pr Kathryn’s grandfathers, longtime dentist in LeCenter MN, happened to have been the godfather who held me, at age 30 days, at the baptismal font at rural St Paul’s ALC (beside German Lake in LeSueur County MN) where my dad was pastor, in July 1937. Connection-ing can be fun… also, our middle daughter Miriam Lutz is about halfway through a 4-year posting under State Dept and US-AID in Dar es Salaam, where she presides over about 45 workers managing USAID’s Public Health programs throughout Tanzania. Well, nuff for now… good to continue hearing of you through PBJ blogs… would love to visit about your experience by phone, but so far don’t have your home or individual contacts by phone.

    Oh, and Lavon’s favorite day of the week, other than Sunday mornings, continues to be Fridays 1pm at Linda’s Salon here on little Centerville main street… gotta run, Lavon’s calling me… Lyle – with Lavon – back in MN

  2. Chuck/Nancy Taylor says:

    Was very interested in your trip to Tanzania. Missions have always held a special place in my heart – we have so much to learn from these people and what we should be truly thankful for which is so much more than “things”. I think it is awesome that you had this experience!

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Pastor Ben is now a post-bacc student at University of Nebraska-Omaha, taking pre-med classes and working as an ER medical scribe and science tutor.

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