Allen and I decided on Tuesday to visit a brother, Ibrahim, who had started a congregation in his village. This is a brother we had studied with before and who understood the true worship - we wanted to go and encourage him in his work.
When Allen spoke to Ibrahim on the phone, he was told that it was just past Himo town. We looked on the map and saw that it was about an hour and a half away. We decided to give the trip 2 hours and headed off about 9 a.m. to get there about 11.
It was a very good drive to Himo. Arusha is on Mt. Meru and very green. To get to Hemo you drive east down the mountain to the Massai Steep. It is a lot drier here and the landscape is covered in volcanic rock that have been spewed out of the mountains. You leave the Steep and head up to the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro (the highest mountain in Africa). To get to Himo you drive around the foot of Kilimanjaro past the large town of Moshi, the drive is really beautiful.
When we got to Himo, Allen asked directions and found that we had to leave the main road, and the tarmac and head north, on a dirt road. Now, the car that I have hired is a 4 cylinder Toyota sedan. The designers in Japan had never thought that their cars would go anywhere like they go in Tanzania. This road started out bad! The volcanic rocks that we had seen before were back and they we strewn all over the road. It was a very slow journey, easing over the largest bumps, trying desperately not to hit the sump or any other vulnerable part of the car. In reality, a 2 wheel drive can go a lot of places that you might not think it could. All you have to do is pick your line and drive very slowly. There is no point rushing when there are big rocks trying to stop you!
Allen was in contact with Ibrahim on the phone and he was told, “it is just a little way down the road”. We passed a convent and Allen again phoned up and was told, “a little further!” We went for another ten minutes and again Allen phone, “you will get there in about 15 minutes”. About this time, thankfully the rocks stopped and the track got better. We were heading up the mountain and Allen and I joked that we would climb Kilimanjaro in the car if we kept going - and kept going we did. Each time we phoned Ibrahim he told us that it was not far!
Eventually we called again and Allen described the shop we had stopped in front of and Ibrahim told us we had gone, “way too far!” It seems he was not at the road yet, so had missed us as we passed. This left us a little wary. How far off this track did we have to go?
We finally found him and we had a very warm reunion - Ibraham is a great guy who loves the Lord. He also speak quite good English, which is good for me! I told him that if the track got too bad we would have to walk. “Ok” he said, “it is not far” (what exactly he meant by that, we did not know!) Any way the track turned out to be not too bad and we made it a fair way before I had to stop and park the car. It was not a very long walk before we came to his house.
Ibrahim had gathered a number of Christians and some of the people he had been studying with and wanted me to teach them.
I was very pleased with how well he had organised things. We sang a couple of songs, had a prayer and then Ibrahim asked me to teach. Ibrahim started translating for me and did a VERY good job! This is important for me to know so that Allen does not have to do all of my translating.
I taught on the church, using Matthew 16:13-19 as my text. I then opened up the study to questions and the men gathered had some very good ones. I could tell they had paid good attention and understood about the one church that Christ built. There were questions about entry into the church and how we worship. These questions opened up good opportunities for further teaching. I could tell that Ibrahim was very pleased with how things were going. The study lasted for about and hour and a half and Ibrahim did the lion’s share of the translating, but it is very hard work and he asked Allen to take over towards the end. Allen Mkita does such a good job of translating and makes it seem so easy that sometime you forget how much mental gymnastics they are doing.
After the study Ibraham’s neighbor wanted us to go over there and pray for her mother and then we headed off down the mountain.
Both Allen and I were very pleased with this trip. It was an important one to help and encourage Ibrahim. While it was a difficult trip in a sedan, but with a different vehicle it will be easy and very pleasant.
Working with Ibrahim and studying with these people really reenforces my desire to work with these people. The gospel is spreading here and there is a lot of work for us to do.