Thanks to all who came to Moe’s for Breakfast last Saturday!

Thank you to all who came to Moe’s for our breakfast fundraiser last Saturday! We had a great time serving you and we hope you enjoyed the meal and fellowship. Your support of the mission trip to visit our companion congregation in Makungu, Tanzania is greatly appreciated!


Thanks for your support!

Thank you to everyone who came to the soup supper this past Wednesday! We hope you enjoyed the meal and fellowship, and we thank you for your support of our upcoming trip!

Boaz Mwidete

Mikayla, Boaz & Laura

Some of you may have seen a comment on an earlier post from Boaz Mwidete…let me introduce you to him. Boaz is a young man (26) who grew up in Makungu. He is one of seven children, and his mother and several siblings live in Makungu. He was fortunate enough to be able to attend primary and secondary school, and did well enough on his exams to go on to college. He attended Tumaini University in Iringa. Boaz is now working as a Community Health Worker for Compassion International in Ilula (which is about 30 miles from Iringa).

Boaz came with us on our visit to Makungu and it was wonderful to have him along. He served as an interpreter, along with Pastor Abis (who was our official interpreter), and was able to teach us much about the village, what it was like to grow up there, and also taught us many words in Swahili.

Boaz & Pastor Lisa

This also seemed to be a good learning experience for him, as he did the some of the interpreting for Pastor Lisa as she spoke at some of the preaching points. If you have ever listened to a talk that has used an interpreter, or been a speaker that needed an interpreter, you know this isn’t always an easy thing for either the speaker or interpreter…both have to develop a rhythm of speaking and working together, and also a sense for the nuances of both languages. Boaz did a wonderful job as interpreter! I asked him if he did this often, and was surprised to learn that this was the first time he had done anything like that. I think he has a natural gift for this, and seemed to be able to convey not only the serious message, but also humor, warmth, love, and joy Pastor Lisa wanted to convey in her messages to the congregations.

He also was given the opportunity to talk with the members of the village directly in his capacity as Community Health Worker. He spoke in Swahili of course, but told us later that he talked about the importance of education, and supporting the children in school…not just by sending them, but also by encouraging them to study at home as well. He also spoke frankly to them about the dangers of AIDS and other health issues facing the community and keeping themselves safe from illness. I imagine it was somewhat inspiring for the young people of the community to see someone who had grown up in their village achieve the success Boaz has through hard work and study.

When I think of Boaz now, the first thing that comes to mind is his smile and laugh! I am hopeful that we can continue to stay in touch with him in the future. He is doing such important work in the community now, and it will be interesting to see where he goes and what he does with his life. Boaz, if you read this, thanks for all you did for us while we were visiting Makungu – you were a great help and made our experience so much richer with your teaching and friendship. We continue to pray for you, and the work you are doing!

Drainage Ditches

Early on in our trip I mentioned the concrete drainage ditches that run along the city streets and across some sidewalks in Iringa.  These are anywhere from one to two feet deep, and 12 to 18 inches wide.  During the rainy season we are told they are filled with water, debris, etc.  but during the dry season, when we were there, they were pretty much empty…just an obstacle to avoid.

In response to that early post, Johanna innocently asked in a comment “Did anyone fall in any of those ditches? :-).”   I didn’t want to blog about this during our trip lest anyone worry needlessly, but now I can tell you that, yes, one of our group members did actually have a close encounter with a ditch.  Everything turned out o.k., for which we are very thankful (maybe it was the guardian angels Marilyn Quarberg sent along for each of us that kept this from being worse than it was!).

Re-enactment of the “ditch incident”
Note: the truth of this re-enactment is highly suspect!

It happened on our first day in Iringa, probably within the first 15 minutes of leaving the Lutheran Center, as six of us headed off to the bank to exchange money and then to explore the town a bit.  There is some dispute as to the actual cause of the fall…there is a rumor (substantiated by some photographic evidence) that the incident may have involved some physical contact between the “fallee” and another group member…however, the veracity of that story and the photo is highly questionable!  It is more likely (and the truth, actually), that this was simply an accident, the only cause of which was the general excitement of our first day in Iringa, and the unexpectedness of a concrete drainage ditch runing across the sidewalk!

Sandra LaCroix was the victim of the fall, which put a pretty good gash across the lower part of her knee.  She and Pastor Lisa went back to the Lutheran Center to put ice on it, but it was soon apparent that the cut was not just a surface wound, but would require medical attention.  Linka Holey took Sandy to the local government clinic, where she received antibiotics and 10 stitches.  Sandy also mentioned to the treating doctor that Linka was a professor of nursing, which apparently made him a bit nervous…but when you are in a third world area, you do what you can to ensure a high standard of care.  Both Sandy and Linka reported that the clinic and doctor did a very good job, and they were very satisfied with the treatment.

Sandy took it easy the rest of that day, but then soldered on for the weekend, making the long (and bumpy) trip to and from Makungu, and participating in everything we did there.  After we got back, her leg was a bit worse for the trip, but she again took the next few days to put it up, which did wonders for the healing process, and by the end of the trip she was pretty much back to normal (although she was going to have it checked by her doctor here, just to make sure there was no lasting damage).

All in all, the outcome could have been much different (we heard of a woman from an earlier group who actually broke her leg in one of these ditches), so we were very thankful that it wasn’t worse.  And, on the plus side – Sandy got a really cool souvenir from trip – no, not just a scar on her knee, but a hand-carved wooden walking stick purchased from a street vendor in Iringa.

And, for those of you who like trivia: How much do you think it would cost (in American dollars) to get IV and oral antibiotics and 10 stitches in a government clinic in Tanzania?

Highs and Lows

In our confirmation program, the students often share their highs and lows from the week or day with each other when they get together.   Throughout this trip, we have had many highs and lows (fortunately, the highs were more frequent, and the lows were generally not extreme), but as a group, Tuesday was a day where our highs and lows were very evident.

I’m guessing that by now, many of you are aware that Pastor Lisa’s mother, Elizabeth Shafer, passed away earlier this week.  Pastor Lisa received the call from home early Tuesday morning (Tanzania time).  As you can imagine, this was an extremely difficult phone call to have to receive (and I’m sure to make as well).  To be so far away and hear such news…there isn’t really much more I can say.  It was fortunate (that seems the wrong word, but I can’t think of another way to put it) that Tuesday was a free day with nothing scheduled, so Lisa was able to take time to grieve.  We all did what we could in our own way to help her and comfort her, and the pastors from the cathedral we worshiped at on Sunday also came to call as well when they heard the news.

Tuesday the 26th was also both Maxine and Mikayla’s birthdays (they also share their baptism date, and Maxine was Mikayla’s confirmation mentor for two years, so it seemed very appropriate that they were on this trip together!).  Since this was our last day in Iringa, we ate supper as a group at Saivilla, a nearby restaurant on a hilltop with a nice view of the sunset, and then had a birthday celebration at the Lutheran Center (where we were staying) in the evening.  As part of the birthday celebration, Pastor Lisa had arranged for Petro (the cook at the Lutheran Center) to make a cake for each of them!  Birthday’s aren’t really celebrated in Tanzania, so that was very nice of him to do that for us (he even stayed late and served them for us – despite having a sick child at home).

I was struck by how these two events (hearing the news of the death of Pastor Lisa’s mother, and celebrating the birthdays) on the same day, really highlighted the importance of family, and not just those we are related to by birth, but those we consider family through church and friendship as well.  At this point in our trip, I know we were all missing our family back home, and were ready to be heading back to them, but in many ways, our group had become like family, supporting each other throughout the trip, and especially on this day.




Woke up in my own bed this morning…did these last three weeks really happen? or was it a dream? 🙂

As I sit here listening to birds chirping and my neighbor mowing the lawn and the kids chattering, I am struck by the difference between the background sounds that were part of the daily life in Tanzania and those here… I’ll post more about that later.

We are Home!

We  are back in the Twin Cities!  Our flight arrived at 7:30 pm, so as I write this, most of us are probably home hugging our families, playing with our pets, and enjoying hot showers (with reliable water pressure 🙂 ).   We have so much to tell, and oh so many pictures!   I’ll continue to add thoughts and pictures to the blog as we think back on our trip and the experiences we want to share with everyone.

On their way home

According to the KLM website, our travelers are in the air from Dar Es Salaam to Amsterdam!  Thank you to Blakely LaCroix for finding the place on the website where we can track the flight – I like being able to see where they are.  If you didn’t see his comment following Sonya’s  “Flight Info Home” post, here is the site –

Enter the flight number and you can follow their flight.

Also, if you go back to the post entitled “WOW!!!!” and look at the comments, you will find a great comment written by one of the people from Makungu – it was wonderful to hear how the visit impacted the people there.

If I hear any updates from Sonya when they have layovers, I will pass them on.  Otherwise, we will look forward to hearing all of their stories when they arrive home!

Lisa S.