This morning we were excited to see Mikanjuni Lutheran Parish for the first time. As our Land Cruiser unloaded we were greeted with song by members of the partnership committee. We toured the church and the Saint Luke Mikanjuni Nursery School. Over tea, we exchanged introductions and then saw the area that will become a playground.
We then departed Tanga and drove far out into the bush to meet a Maasai tribe. While rolling along the highway, Pastor Ishmael Ngoda and I practiced the sermon that I will deliver with his translation into Swahili.
We were surprised and honored to arrive when hundreds were gathered for a ceremony during which young people were received into the adult generation of the tribe. Pastor Moses from Kana Lutheran Parish and other clergy were invited to preside at a worship service and bring God’s blessing and the blessing of the Church upon the rising generation of this nomadic tribe that often remains reclusive, but chose to welcome others on this particular day. During worship I had the profound honor of joining the pastors in blessing individuals. I laid hands upon the heads of 40-50 people asking God to bless them with the gift of faith. It is an experience I will never forget. I was also glad to hear religious and tribal leaders use the opportunity of this gathering to communicate to the Maasai people the importance of vaccines and school attendance for their children, which are both development goals that I have advocated for with the ONE Campaign.
We retuned to Mikanjuni where we enjoyed lunch provided by the widows of the congregation. We then visited other Lutheran parishes in Tanga. At Kana Lutheran Parish, the choir and band was preparing for morning worship and they invited us in and they sang and played for us. We then visited Mbuyukenda, which was the site of the first Lutheran church on the continent of Africa. We learned the history from the grandson of one of the first three African pastors.