The collection of baskets and wooden spoons on my dining table, as well as the dress I am wearing, were gifts that I received from the faithful people of Bomalang'ombe Lutheran Church and its five preaching points - Mwanzala, Nyamatonga, Ilole, Vikongwa, and Mifugo - as well as from the students of four schools within the church's territory...
I cried each time I was given one of these gifts. I couldn't help it. I cried not because the people who so humbly presented them are poor and gave me a gift that cost them dearly (although they are indeed poor by our standards, but they do not consider themselves poor). No, I cried because I recognized the face of Jesus in each and every one of those people who sang and danced for me as they presented their gifts. They were truly gifts of love.
I spent five days in Bomalang'ombe (the name means "home of the cows" in Swahili) with a group of eight travelers from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
in Roseville, MN. This was the first group of travelers that I hosted in my new position as Bega Kwa Bega Coordinator, and I went along with them on their companion congregation visit to see just how this type of relationship is supposed to work...
What I saw in five days at Bomalong'ombe and its preaching points was a long-distance partnership that has endured over thousands of miles and thousands of days. These Tanzanians absolutely love their American brothers and sisters, and the feeling is mutual. They don't love Prince of Peace because of the money sent by their American partners which enables them to build their churches and provide scholarships to their children to attend secondary school... They love Prince of Peace because the people of Prince of Peace consider them important enough to visit. The point of Bega Kwa Bega isn't to dump a lot of money on the "poor" Tanzanians; it is to walk with them in their work, and to learn from each other. Believe me when I say that we have much to learn from them about how to live as a Christian in everyday life and how to show the love of God.
Baskets and spoons. I see the face of Jesus in baskets and spoons.
Deacon April Trout
BKB Program Coordinator