As stated in our previous blog entry, since we are becoming more specific in our prayer requests and moving them to an email format, we are changing the nature of this website. If you are wanting to be added to the prayer emails, please send us a message requesting to be added. The teamtabora.org website will now become a photo blog that will be updated weekly following primarily the Hacias Family in the villages. The weekly updates will start in October beginning with our travel to the US on furlough and then continue after we return to Tanzania and start going to the village as a family. If you are wanting to follow the East family as well, you can email them and ask to be put on their family update list. Thank you so much for wanting to partner with us in Tanzania!
Hey all! We hope the weather is warming up for you all back home and that it will stay warm. Though Tanzania certainly has its own issues, we thank God that the cold is not one of them!
Two months ago we gave an update on each place we’re working in. Since then, we’ve made some changes in planning and strategy that we are excited about, have already started to implement, and feel are more appropriate for our evangelistic goals here.
At the end of April, Garrett and Adam attended a seminar in Geita for us CoC missionaries around the country who were interested in learning a disciple-making method called DBS (Discovery Bible Study). The seminar came at a perfect time, as we were starting to question our old method. Though we certainly enjoyed our weekly gatherings in each place with the people, we felt these gatherings were not fulfilling our primary goal of reaching the unreached (almost all attendees were already Christian and not showing any signs of reaching others themselves). In short, except for the 1-2 hours we met together, there was no evidence of any change in these communities, and though worshiping with these Christians was nice, if this was our only goal, we would’ve stayed in America!
So we both were ready to hear a new method, and by the end of the seminar, we were both excited and eager to implement what we learned. The emphases of DBS are exactly what we felt was lacking in our old method, namely the challenges to not just know the Word of God but to obey it, to share life together in a community, and to spread the Word of God to those who do not yet know Him.
Since we’ve started using this method, we’ve seen the people who are willing to study with us are also encouraged by it, are excited about what they’ve been learning about God and about humanity (and seem equally excited they are learning without relying on a pastor to explain it to them), and are going out and telling others about what they’ve learned as well as inviting them into our group. This may be the biggest challenge for us Christians everywhere, and yet our people are going out and sharing with their friends and neighbors. Praise God!
We continue to be very excited about this method, though, as with any strategy, challenges still exist. In these first few weeks we have had a hard time setting up a consistent meeting time, as harvesting and other engagements have made people unavailable. We still meet those who have different expectations of us and thus are not ready to learn without promises of other incentives. Here in the early stages, Muslims in our groups are still a bit shy and not quite ready for the challenge to share with their friends and neighbors.
So, we ask for prayers that we will be able to have consistent meetings with consistent groups, that people will be open to a new way of learning the Bible that is unfamiliar, and that participants will accept the challenges to apply what they learn about God to their lives, to live in a community that cares for one another, and to answer the call to witness to others. We are hopeful that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, this method will yield a crop of empowered believers who themselves will yield crops 30-, 60-, and 100-fold!
We thank you for your prayers and support. We miss you all and are looking forward to being back home in just a few short months!
As our prayer requests get more personal and mention people by name, we’ve decided it’s better to send them to your emails rather than posting them to our website. If you want to join with us in prayer over the work and the people here, please let us know. If you are connected to this team through the Easts, please send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know you want prayer requests and updates. If you are connected through the Haciases, please email them at email@example.com to begin getting prayer requests and updates.
For our prayer warriors out there, Adam and I have chosen our first four villages in which we will be sharing the good news of Jesus over the next year. They are called Nyakahunga, Kasandarala, Imarampaka, and Migumbu. These villages are all geographically, tribally, religiously, and demographically diverse, so it is not easy to identify what exact traits drew us to these villages. However, we are so excited about what God might do among the people of those villages. Like the boy with five fish and two loaves of bread, we are ready to give Jesus everything we have in order that he might use it for his purposes in these villages.
Here is one short story from one of those villages:
We first visited Migumbu in May while gathering research about the villages throughout the Tabora region. We met a man there, John (not his actual name), who was very welcoming to us and listened attentively to everything we had to say about our purposes in his village. We told him that we were visiting over 25 villages before choosing which villages to begin with and that we could not promise to return to his village. We exchanged numbers and that was that.
Fast forward to this August. Stacy and I had just returned from Dar es Salaam. Adam and I met together soon after we returned to finalize our top four villages in which to keep visiting/evangelizing. Migumbu was #1 on both of our lists, so we agreed that it would be our first preaching point.
The following morning, I received a call from John asking if we had chosen which villages we would work in. I happily told him we would be returning to his village the following week.
After arriving the following week, he took us on a tour of the whole village, introducing us to his neighbors and eventually welcoming us to have lunch at his house with him, his wife, and their nine children. We finally got to sit and talk for a long time, each of us taking a turn to tell his or her life story up to the present. In this conversation, we learned that John and his wife are Christians who have been praying for two years for God to send someone to their village to help preach the gospel and establish a church. Almost the entire village is pagan (in TZ, that means neither Muslim nor Christian), but he insisted that he believes most would be open to the gospel if they could just have a chance to hear it. He personally does not feel gifted enough for that task (though we hope to empower and train him for it!). John told us that when we came and visited in May, after we left he ran home to tell his wife, “Mungu ametufungulia mlango,” which means, “God has opened a door for us!”
We prayed for years that God would precede us in all the villages we enter. In Migumbu, he certainly did.
Happy One Year in Africa! September 16th will mark the end of our first year here and it has been amazing. We have already experienced so much as a team-everything from fun and exciting new beginnings to some difficult and trying times, yet God has been so faithful, making His presence known every step of the way. We will continue to give thanks for all of the support coming from back home. We feel your love and prayers!
Garrett and Stacy got back to Tabora on August 1st after spending 7 weeks in Dar es Salaam. They were awaiting the arrival of their second son, and on July 15th, Malachi Jordan was born. Since then they have been hosting all the grandparents and enjoying lots of quality time with family. Stacy’s brother was able to come for a few days in June, and her mom stayed for the delivery in order to help with Isaiah. A few days later Stacy’s dad arrived and they got to spend 10 days together. As her parents headed back home,Garrett’s mom made her way to Dar es Salaam, and she made the long bumpy journey back to Tabora with them, meeting up with Garrett’s dad in Tabora. They have loved getting to show Garrett’s parents all around Tabora,and watching them learn more about our home. They have spent time with our workers, eaten Tanzanian food, joined us for playgroup, and even learned some Swahili. Isaiah is greatly going to miss having grandparents here. The four of them have spent many hours snuggling with babies and pushing toy cars! The last few months have been a huge blessing to the Easts, and we thank God that theirs families were able to be here!
Adam and Katy have been busy hosting back in Tabora. They had their first visitors from the States, Keith and Barbara Huey from Rochester. They are close friends and supporters of the Haciaes and enjoyed getting to see what life is like here in Tanzania. They first arrived in Dar es Salaam and experienced some of our favorite things from when we lived there, including a trip to the beach. Maddie turned 3 on July 10th and celebrated with a swimming party. It was so fun to get to include friends from home. They traveled to Tabora with Adam and Katy and spent a week at their house. It really reminded all of us how special it is to have visits from our friends and supporters. We love where we live and are excited about what we are doing; so we of course love when others get to see it first hand. It has also been a great reminder of the blessings that God is bringing us. We have been greatly encouraged by these visits!
As Katy is now only 4 weeks away from her due date, the Haciases will soon be leaving for Dar es Salaam to prepare for their son’s arrival. Katy’s mom will be meeting them there to help out and then coming back to Tabora for a couple months.
Somehow, amidst all of the traveling and visitors, Garrett and Adam have managed to return to several villages. Their goal is to start building some relationships by going to the same places each week. They have been encouraged by the amount of interest shown in the villages and are eager to see what fruits will come of these visits.
Again, we appreciate all the prayers and support from back home, and thank you for following our journey!
May might have been our most exciting month yet, as we finally felt like we’ve started our work here in Tanzania. Our houses are settled, and with the unpacking of the last box came the first opportunity to visit some villages. Through the weeks of May, Adam and Garrett were able to visit 16 villages in several regions just outside of Tabora town.
What we found surprised us a bit. Before starting our survey work, the information we were given on this area told us the Nyamwezi people group was an isolated people group in desperate need of hearing the Gospel, and that sharing the Gospel would require learning their language (Kinyamwezi). However, what we found—in almost every village we went— is that the Nyamwezi have mixed with other people groups in the village centers. Nearly all certainly remain in need of hearing the Gospel, but we were surprised a bit to see people groups mixed together rather than the Nywamwezi in isolation.
We were also surprised to find church buildings in a few villages. The presence of these buildings provided a segue to ask about peoples’ faith, beliefs, and church practices. As we asked these questions, we learned that compared to the village populations, these churches are sparsely attended. Furthermore, most who call themselves Christians do not understand even the basic tenants of our faith, like salvation, or even who Jesus Christ is. And even with the churches present, there are still high percentages of people within these villages who are too far to attend.
By the end of our research, we realized we could really work in every single village we visited. And though we found a few more church buildings than we anticipated, it is evident there is still much the Lord wants to do to transform this area into His kingdom and these people into His servants. There really is much the Lord wants to do here through His Spirit that lives in us. How excited we are to be a part of it!
But we need your help discerning what that is and where specifically He wants us to go. We found villages that have several churches but few disciples and villages with no churches and no disciples. We found villages closely linked with others and villages way out in the bush. At this point, we want to discern which of these people and which of these villages the Lord is calling us to. Shall we go far or close? Shall we seek the young Christians or the pagans? Shall we go out to the edges or stay nearer the village centers? Does it not matter?
As you pray for us this month, please ask the Lord to help us discern where it is He’s leading. Though we’re confident there’s really no wrong option here, this decision is too important to leave up to ourselves.
No official monthly update here, but important news nonetheless. Adam and Garrett will be heading to villages for the first time next week from Tuesday-Thursday to begin scouting areas and discerning where God specifically wants us to work. Please pray earnestly for village leaders to be welcoming, for communication to go well, and for us to be alert to the things to which the Lord would like to focus our attention. Please pray also for safe travel and for Stacy, Katy, Isaiah, and Maddie who will be left behind in Tabora town.
Greetings from Tabora! Much has happened since our last update, and life is finally starting to feel somewhat “settled.” Garrett and Stacy received their container on March 8th and have been busy organizing their new place. There have been a few issues with their house regarding plumbing and electricity, which is frustrating, but is at least providing them with lots of Swahili practice. Regardless, they are thrilled to finally start setting up house in Tabora.
Adam and Katy’s container has officially arrived in Dar es Salaam so they are anxiously awaiting the news that it has cleared customs and is on its way to Tabora. They have been busy working on house-projects of their own such as water tanks, flooring, and painting. Starting life here has taken longer than we had imagined. It’s sometimes difficult to be patient, and even frustrating when we feel like time is being wasted. However, looking back, we can also see how valuable this time is and recognize that it is all part of preparing our hearts, our minds, and even our homes for ministry.
Meanwhile, much networking has been happening as the guys spend many days traveling around Tabora in search of different government workers and other “higher-ups” in town. The goal is to make contact with government officials and start off with a good relationship with them. Garrett and Adam are doing the same thing with church leaders in town in hopes that they will see us as having similar goals and desires for the Nyamwezi people that they do. Thankfully, the guys have come really far in their Swahili and have been able to have some important conversations with many of these people.
There has also been a lot of traveling for our team. Garrett and Adam got to enjoy some relaxation and spiritual renewal at the Men’s Retreat in Kenya. They benefited greatly from Monte Cox who was this year’s invited speaker. Their week also included hikes through the rain forest and great quality time/mentoring with fellow East African missionaries. Katy got to go a few weeks later to the Women’s Retreat and was blessed by devotions, good food, and some much needed “girl-time.”
Later, Garrett and Stacy flew from Mwanza to Dar where they saw their sweet baby boy, Malachi, and were blessed with the news that he is healthy and everything is normal with her pregnancy. They will be headed back to Dar in June to prepare for his arrival. At the same time, Adam and Katy are planning their own delivery plans as they are expecting a new baby in October! It is such a fun time for our team as Isaiah and Maddie get ready for the roles of Big Brother and Big Sister.
As for our upcoming plans…the guys are making their first trip out to a couple villages on April 28th and then several more times in May, staying a few days for each trip. Please pray for these initial contacts being made. Pray that Adam and Garrett will be kept safe/healthy and also for people of peace that will welcome them into villages. These first visits can be so critical and we pray that God is already working in powerful ways to prepare both us and the Nywamwezi for these meetings.
As always, thank you for keeping up with our journey! We look forward to reporting on our village visits soon!
Thinking back to the beginning of December to write this update, so much has happened it’s hard to believe at the beginning of December we were still in Dar.
December 8th, we travelled to Zanzibar for the 2nd annual all-Church-of-Christ-missionaries-in-Tanzania family retreat. We stayed at a beautiful resort off the coast of Zanzibar, which was the perfect backdrop to meet for the first time the families of the different teams around the country. Besides our team, there were 4 teams and 13 families represented. It was a great 4 days of fellowship and getting to know the people we only were able to email before then.
We returned to Dar on the 12th and loaded our vehicles to depart for Tabora the next day. We took 3 days to drive, stopping at guesthouses in Morogoro and Dodoma before arriving in Tabora the 15th. Along the way we passed many traffic officers, who rather than drive cars just walk into the street to stop cars. We thank God that we were not stopped and arrived in Tabora safely.
Upon arrival in Tabora, we quickly set out to find houses to live in, motivated further by the fact that our temporary dwelling had too many undesirable things (like dirt and bed bugs) and lacked things we did desire (like a seat on the toilet). Thankfully, we got in touch with 2 Tanzanians before arriving in Tabora, Deusi and Emmanuel, who found us about 10 houses that gave us a great idea about available housing here. The Haciases found the house they wanted within the first week, and the Easts found their house early the following week, much quicker than we expected. Now we are busy making improvements to our houses to help make them feel more like homes.
Please visit our ‘Prayer Warriors’ section to pray with us about specific requests, and let us know what we can pray for in your lives.
Hello Friends and Family,
Happy Holidays! November was a great month for us. While we were very sad to not be home celebrating the holidays with our families, God was working some miracles in our lives here in Tanzania. This Thanksgiving, our team had so much to be thankful for.
On November 21, we received our work visas. By what we were told, these can take anywhere from 7 weeks all the way up to 7 months, but ours only took 4 weeks! This means that not only can we send our container right away; we also do not have to leave the country in December. Both of those items had become stressors lately, and God truly answered our prayers.
We also found out this month that we will be getting our vehicle this week. All the papers have cleared and they will be delivered to where we are staying. The delivery aspect is great because the traffic here in Dar es Salaam is intense, and it would’ve been nerve-wracking to try and drive new vehicles, in a new country, with new laws, and on the opposite side of the road.
On Sunday December 8th we will be heading to Zanzibar for the second annual retreat for all Church of Christ missionaries in Tanzania. We are incredibly excited about this. Not only will it be a great break but also we will get to meet our co-workers in Tanzania. These people have already been such a huge help to us. They have fielded so many of our questions and helped us get our cars and visas. We are excited to be able to thank them in person.
Right after the retreat we will be hitting the road and driving to Tabora! It will take about 3 days as we are trying to space out the traveling for the kids. Once there, we will immediately begin looking for houses. This is a big prayer need for us because we need to find landlords who are honest and kind. We are very ready to feel settled in a home so we are also praying that any house we find will not require a large amount of work/time/money to prepare. This move is happening a little later than we originally planned, but our time in Dar es Salaam has been a blessing that we didn’t even realize we needed. We thank God for the community of people he has shown us here, for the language study, and for the ease of transition it has created for us and our children.
We have seen God answer so many prayers this month. We are seeing how the need for prayer will shape our lives over here. We are truly helpless without God. We are so appreciative of all the prayers that you guys are sending for us as well. We truly need your prayers every day.
We wanted to share a few pictures with you. Our language tutor and friend, Joas, brought a very popular snack for us to try yesterday. They are called “senene” which is basically a grasshopper-type insect. Apparently, they are a very special treat so we had no choice but to try a few! Katy won the award for best reaction, and Isaiah won for most bugs eaten (7).