Tales from Tanzania - O'Neil Family Blog

Though we have already been in Tanzania for one year, this is a journal of our time at Haven of Peace Academy in Dar es Salaam. Karibu sana.

May 03, 2007

A Little Bit of Lake

Over Easter we had a two week break from school. Of course, Steve, being the adventurer, had to plan on exploring some distant crevice of Tanzania. We decided to go to Matema - on the west side of Tanzania - and why not take a train and explore two things at once - train and terrain. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any other unsuspecting families to travel with (I think they had already heard rumours of the train and kept their distance) so off we went, the five of us. The train was really quite fun - after we sprayed a bottle of DOOM in the carriage and the roaches moved out - we moved in for the next twenty four hours. The train is in its untouched state from the 1930's but it was a wonderful way to see the landscape, read, sleep and travel across the country. None of our kids had ever been on a train and we loved it as compared to being squished in a car over harrowing roads and always with many near misses.

The train ended in Mbeya, where we donned out fleece jackets and long pants - we are complete wimps now. It is a beautiful agricultural town with carrots so orange and huge I could almost not keep myself from making the taxi stop to buy some. We then had a three hour taxi ride down to Matema - complete with an overheating engine, a door that wouldn't stay shut, and a stop for some welding work before we could plant our feet in the middle of nowhere - where the most amazing site greeted our Minnesotan eyes.

After two years of the hot searing tropical sun, salty water, and white sand, we beheld the most gorgeous, cool, freshwater lake a Minnesotan could imagine. From the beach we could see Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique. We spent the next few days swimming, canoeing, swimming, laying in the sand, scrounging for food (no comment), snorkeling, and swimming. It was a wonderful Easter break.

But the real reason I wrote about this excursion on our blog is not because of the treat it was to visit a new place in Tanzania but because of who we met there. We heard a group doing a Seder meal our first night there and later learned that it was several families who live nearby and have a child at HOPAC. We, of course, recognized their daughter right away. They live in Mbeya and work for Wycliff and are working on translating the Bible into ten of the local languages right there in the area. It was so amazing to get to hear about their work and how soon, ten people groups will have the Bible translated into their own languages. They encouraged us by letting us know how important it was that they could send their older children to HOPAC. She boards at a nearby boarding house. The younger children attend public school and are home schooled. They gratefully spoke of how their whole group would have had to pack up shop and head home to Finland would they not have been able to send their children to school at HOPAC. We have found over and over again how critical education is for enabling missionaries to stay on the field as their children reach high school age.

Sometimes, in the big city where we don't see as much field work being done with the Tanzanians, it is easy to get lost and wonder if we are doing any good or having any impact. But, among our swimming and enjoying the sun and sand and beautiful scenery, God was able to show us a taste of the far reaching effects of our work. Way over on the other side of the country, in the middle of nowhere, HOPAC was playing a role in the sharing of the gospel of Jesus with people. That encouragement, perhaps, made the trip extra special for me and worth the long trip home complete with a twenty six hour train delay and night on the train station floor!