New Experiences

By Savannah Swanner | Oct 11, 2012

I thought it was necessary to write a short blog about a some events in the past few weeks that I thought were interesting.  I won’t go into too much detail because we would be here for days.

Several weeks ago, the Gamasara Methodist Church decided to hold a church revival in the Gamasara village.  Rachel and I had yet to go the village, so we were both pretty excited to attend. Friday evening Rachel, Liz (a commissioned missionary here with the Methodist church), and I traveled out to the village on piki-pikis.  The revival was suppose to start at 3:00 pm so we arrived in the village at 3:00 pm.  No one was there.  Our faithful piki-piki driver, Chambili, stayed at our sides so that we were not stranded in the village to protect us from loneliness.  About an hour later, some of the church leaders began showing up.  Slowly, everything began coming together.  Several different choirs from differing Methodist churches showed up, three preachers appeared, and church members began filtering in.  In Tanzania, the prominent idea regarding sound equipment is the louder the better.  The church had rented three huge speakers and a professional soundboard which they set up outside under a tree.  At about 5:30-6:00 pm the revival actually began.  A few months ago, the delay in starting would have been a great annoyance to me.  Now, I actually enjoy it.  The scenery here in Northern Tanzania is marvelous.  Therefore, during the 2-3 hours of waiting I was able to sit quietly on a blanket in the grass, under an ancient tree, and gaze out upon the savanna.  It was quiet and peaceful.  Creation was revealing to me the beauty and majesty molded by our mighty Father.  It was wondrous!  In Tarime, there are always noises.  Our neighbors play loud music all night long.  Packs of dogs howl throughout the night.  The cows across the street are always talking to one another.  There is never silence.  But here, in the village, there was silence.  There was peace.

Once the revival began, about two hundred villagers filtered in.  As I have stated before, Tanzanians love to dance, so dancing and singing filled the air for several hours.  I was able to speak to the villagers both nights about different health topics.  The first night I spoke on making your own clean water using the sun, and the second night I spoke about healthy eating and washing your hands.  The first night, I passed out water bottles to those who wanted them.  It was pretty cool to see bebes (grandmothers) worshiping and dancing with water bottles in their hands.  Several preachers spoke throughout the two nights.  It was loud (so loud that at one point the speakers started smoking) but it was filled with joy!

The next weekend, Rachel and I went with some friends to another village to attend their church service.  This was an amazing experience!  The church was a small square building made from mud and sticks.  Grasses cut and tied together formed the roof.  A small alter sat in the front and then small boulders were placed on the ground.  The church hopes to build a bigger building.  To be able to build the foundation, the women come to church bringing small boulders on their heads.  After enough rocks are carried in and enough money is collected, the church can begin to build their building.  As church members began arriving, we crammed about sixty people into the small 10 ft x 10 ft building, while others stood outside.  Church lasted about two hours, where afterwards we ventured down the hill to the preacher’s house.  His house was similar in structure to the church and painted with a beautiful design on the outside and inside.  As we were eating the rice and beans the preacher’s wife served us, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked what kind of paints he used to paint his house.  Cow feces and mud was his response.  Although this should not have caught me off guard it did and I had to quickly readjust the surprised look on my face.

Through all of my experiences here in Tanzania, I am always learning new things.  God has created peoples of all tribes, languages, skills, and ideas.  We should always be learning from one another.  I am truly thankful for these experiences and opportunities to see how other children of God live their lives!