Stories of Our Life Together

Date posted: Thursday 20 December 2018

The holiday season is a perfect time to gather with friends and families around a glowing fire and share stories about our life together. Russ Hilliard and Jo Whiting have provided stories of their Ambassador visits to the congregations they represented, but these stories are so rich in fellowship and the love for the neighbor that it seemed important to share some of them with a wider audience in hopes that they will bring to mind your own stories of prayer, presence, and projects in your life in partnership with your companion congregation.


Those who have visited partners have experienced the amazing Tanzanian welcome. Russ and Jo wrote of that uplifting experience so many times. "We were greeted at the turn off for the church by a large group from the congregation, cheering, dancing, singing, and waving branches. The enthusiasm and warmth for our visits never ceases to overwhelm us."


Stories of these visits contain many expressions of the beauty of the countryside and many more of the beauty of the people. They tell of driving through breathtakingly beautiful mountains on muddy roads when rainbows appear and hearing the thundering sound of rain on a tin roof during a meeting in a remote church. They express the hope for a better future through congregational projects like beekeeping and planting avocado groves or seedlings that can be harvested for future lumber sales. The most unique project was at Idete where the church is using their electricity to open and operate a men's shaving salon!


There are endless stories of building projects, including this stunning description of the interior color of the church at Kipaduka: "We can only describe it as sunset pink, and it is breathtaking."


My favorite project story is of the visit to one of Mtwivila's preaching points.


"...we climbed into the Land Cruiser with the pastor and partnership committee leaders and drove even further up and up over some pretty rough roads to the new preaching point, Jerusalem. There we witnessed an astonishing sight. After only four days of work, a crew of men and women (some hired professionals and many church members) had dug the trenches for the foundation of the new preaching point church and filled them with stone gathered from the site. They were well on their way to finishing the foundation wall above ground to create a level surface for the construction of the church.


"There were a few pews and a temporary frame and tarp, as worship there has already been taking place. They told us, with confidence, that the new church should be complete in two months' time, and that they would send pictures when it was done. It was a beautiful site, the work being done was obviously high quality, and the commitment of the members to the project was inspiring and clear."


Jo and Russ also share stories of conversations with sponsored students, hearing about how partnerships have been strengthened through persistent prayer, and expressed hopes for future visits to strengthen the already deep bonds of love between the congregations. We are so grateful for these stories of vibrant and life-giving relationships. This Christmas season, please share stories of your own with each other and with all of us.


Peace & Joy,



The Rev. Lynda Thompson

Chair of the BKB Scholarship and Education Working Group