“By far and away the best school I attended...” bullet2

2015 Mission to Tanzania

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The flights from New Zealand to Brisbane, Brisbane to Dubai, Dubai to Dar es Salaam and Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro all went off well and totalled about 23 hours in the air. Needless to say were all very pleased to have landed in Tanzania and were welcomed at the Kilimanjaro Airport by New Life Foundation staff and Miss Natasha Brooking, our Hebron staff member working in NLF this year. We are now safely and comfortably settled into our Guest House in Moshi.

Friday 3rd July

Everyone was very tired when we arrived but a good night's sleep has revived everyone. One or two have stomach upsets or headaches but these ailments are being successfully addressed by our medical man...Mr Marshall
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This morning all of our cases and equipment, that had travelled by truck from Dar es Salaam, arrived safely and intact. The morning, after a later start than will be the norm, was spent in team meetings, preparation, worship, prayer and generally getting ourselves organised.
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The afternoon was spent at a small area called Pasau where the team performed their first set of Samoan and Maori items and did their "Hands" drama.  A good number of local children enthusiastically came and watched.  Parents and others, in this predominantly Muslim area, happily watched from a greater distance. After the presentation a number of people, adults and children, were keen for the team to pray for them. Ruth Scott prayed for a lady she had clearly seen in a vision before the meeting in a bright red dress. The lady revealed she had need for healing and Ruth obliged.

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Sight-seeing was arranged for the morning so it was up at 6:30am for a 7am breakfast. Mr Matthews informed the team of some bad news he had received from his twin sister in the early hours of the morning – his missionary niece working in Jordan with Syrian refugees had broken her back while diving into a rock pool and was awaiting emergency backbone surgery in an Amman hospital. The team immediately prayed for her healing and were able to rejoice later in the day when a text came through saying the surgery was successful and although vertebrae were broken, there was no nerve damage. Praise God!
We all travelled to the Mt.Kilimanjaro National Park, 2,000+ feet up its slopes where the temperature was noticeably colder. After visiting the hikers registration office, we started a rather long walk (hike?) through lush vegetation and small farming plots. The local children rushed out to see us pass and there were many “Jumbos” as we greeted each other (Tanzanians are invariably friendly hospitable). After trekking for about 2 hours we had our packed lunch at the Mt.Kilimanjaro Hotel. We were then invited to see the local waterfall (see here) which they said was 10 mins away but the round trip actually took us about 1 hour.

It was worth it though – the waterfall created by melted ice off the top of Mt.Kilimanjaro was most spectacular to behold. A very weary buch of students and adults hopped onto the team bus to make their way back to Moshi. Our planned afternoon visit to a juvenile prison had to be deferred as we arrived back too late and the team was not really in a condition to give the performance their best.
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While the team were hiking all over Tanzania, Dr Marshall ran workshops for pastors from all over the Kilimanjaro region. he spoke on ethics, morals and boundary setting in Christian leadership. The material was very well received as such issues are very relevant in ministry today.

Tonight, after an outdoor dinner, we were blessed to have Melanie Bell (right in photo), flatmate of Natasha Brooking and a Kiwi missionary in Moshi, talk of her experiences in bringing the Kingdom of God to Tanzania. She described how the Holy Spirit gave her specific messages for the Hebron team which were:
  1. God has prepared people for the Hebron team to minister to, especially in Dodoma
  2. Dodoma is the capital city of Tanzania. Elections are being held this year. There will be a great deal of spiritual activity in Dodoma this year.
  3. The team is like a “V” shaped Roman army attack formation that can break through the enemy’s line and claims territory for the Kingdom. (Mr Matthews’ picture at the Tuesday night commissioning evening confirms this word – a “V” shaped ice breaker advancing through solid ice and creating a path for others to follow)
  4. The teammust close ranks to prevent the enemy weakening the attack. This speaks of Godly character, victory over sin and weaknesses and unity in the Spirit.
  5. Prayer and worship are two very important ingredients to winning the spiritual battle.
A great word for the team which was greatly received and welcomed.

Sunday 5th July

Today was church day, performing at the El Shaddai Church, the church we first visited in our inaugural visit to Tanzania. The church was started  by Glorious Shoo in 1986 but he has now moved onto plant a new church and Pastor Elisha Mahene has taken over. As in previous missions, the students absolutely loved the African praise and worship…very loud, very animated and mixed with dancing, One praise song seemed to be a Chubby Checker re-write of the famous song “Let’s twist Again Like We Did last Summer” and the students really got into that one. The church members loved the Kapahaka, the Pasifika songs and testimonies given by Losaline, Toeaso and Elim. The Tale of Two Kingdoms drama was well received and enjoyed. Pastor Colin Marshall preached a sermon on Forgiveness and prayer for church members followed.
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After lunch we were able to schedule our postponed Juvenile Prison ministry into the afternoon’s programme but only permitted 1 hour. About 20 teenage offenders watched the team perform their items in blaring hot sun and they were very responsive clapping at the end of each item or break inb the drama. The items took up the whole hour so unfortunately the short message at the end of the drama could not be delivered and it was back to the guest house for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
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The safari guides came to the guest house at 8pm to talk about the visit to the safari parks. Then it was off to bed for an early morning rise to have breakfast, pack the vans and head off to the first of two parks. 

Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th July

These two days are Safari Days...visiting the famous Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater National Wildlife Parks. The team had an early breakfast in order to meet our safari van drivers at 7:30am for a 8am start.
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Leaving Mr Matthews to meet with the sponsored children and get updated details on children needing sponsorship (of which there are still quite a few) the team set off in high spirits and had a relatively uneventful journey all the way to Tarangire National Park.  On the way passing through a very different countryside from what we see in New Zealand.
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On arrival we had lunch under the acacia trees whose nasty thorns reminded us all too vividly of Jesus' crown of thorns.  Then, once they had checked and re-checked all our passports it was off to see the glory of the Lord's creation. Tarangire is famous for its herds of elephants and we were not disappointed.  
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There was certainly a lot to see ... once we had finished the tour we set off to towards Ngorogoro Crater stopping for dinner and the night at a Safari Lodge at a village whose Kiswahilli name translates as "Mosquito River".  Unsurprisingly, the beds all had mosquito nets that thankfully worked very well.  It was a nice place and even had a small swimming pool that some of the team happily availed themselves of before bed. 
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Tuesday morning saw us up a lot earlier than many of the team were comfortable with - breakfast at 5:30am leaving at 6am ... well ... we succeeded in getting away by 6:30am so all in all a good effort.   The weather had turned decidedly cooler and we even had some rain.  In fact, by the end of the day, quite a bit of rain.  Once we got to the Safari Park at Ngorogoro Crater we were once again treated to some wonderful sights. The trip back took significantly longer than anticipated because the heavens opened and it really poured down for much of the five hour trip back.  We are blessed with very safe and competent drivers who made sure we were back only slightly late for dinner.
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0708 Crater16 Tomorrow we are off to the New Life Foundation for our official welcome and to spend time with the children.  Everyone is excited and really looking forward to the start of this time.

Wednesday 8th July

The day had finally arrived when the team would join up with some American and Korean visitors and be officially welcomed on to the New Life Foundation orphanage site. A Police brass band playing loudly on their instruments led us up the driveway to the orphanage where the children and staff were waiting for us. Each student and staff member was presented with a card and a rose and this was followed by a Swahili welcome dance, similar to a Maori powhiri. After sitting down in the “VIP box” the primary and secondary students marched in front of us like regular soldiers and this was followed by a worship song.
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Pastor Shoo introduced us to his staff and students then invited the American Chairman of the New Life Foundation (US) and Geoff Matthews, Chairman of the New Life Foundation (NZ) Trust to respond to his welcome. Mr Matthews spoke of the way God brought Hebron Christian College and the New life Foundation together in 2004 and the great blessing each one has been to each other since then. The Hebron team then performed their kapahaka and Polynesian dances and they were well received by all in attendance.
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 The New Life Foundation children then did their haka, a ribbon dance copied from our 2011 team and a Massai dance undertaken by some primary children. The morning finished with the Hebron team joining in a dance put on by the NLF secondary students and a good time of mixing together.
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In the afternoon, the team broke into four group and each group visited a very poor family. After hearing of the plight of these families, the team students handed over bags of food and cooking oil and this was very thankfully received. The teams prayed for each family before heading back to the guest house.

Thursday 9th July

The day started early with a 6:30 breakfast followed by a trip to the New Life Foundation to lead devotions for the nursery, primary, secondary schools and the teachers.  Divided in groups our team lead a variety of activities in the various areas.
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After devotions we all came and listened to Mike explain the self-sustainable, organic, project that is being developed for the New Life Foundation. The project has already begun in part but has a long way to go that will require supportive funding.  Given the land the NLF owns it will be possible to grow sufficient crops to provide food for the orphanage and a cash crop to support the school, orphanage and additional projects.  This is exciting material based on tried and proven methods in Africa and is already showing signs of great promise.  From there we traveled to visit two schools in Pusua - because they were too big for one school we met them on the same field we had used for outreach earlier in the week.  The items, object lessons, sharing of testimonies, hapa-haka and drama went down very well.  Parent Mr Steve Levine spoke very well after the drama following on from the object lesson with a mobile phone he had shared earlier on God's desire to hear from us.  The afternoon was spent out on another round of visits out in the community with families or villages of some students at NLF.  Seeing and hearing the accounts of their struggles was moving as were the basic realities of the conditions they live in.  
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It was certainly a real joy to be able to take and hand over, support and food parcels to these families who are in such real need.  It was also great to hear their testimonies about how having a child at the New Life Foundation for their education has given them a whole hope for the future they previously never had.  Just one child from a village getting a good education provides hope and real benefit for the entire community.
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Friday 10th July

Friday morning saw us back at the New Life Foundation with the combined schools assembly.  This was an opportunity to perform the Tale of Two Kingdoms drama and then spend some time with the children...something the team had been looking forward to.  After lunch the team spent time with the children playing tabloid sports while a number of the adults met in a NLF International Advisory Board meeting (Tanzania, USA, NZ).
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The drama always goes across as a great hit with the students.  Some identify with the characters and get very "into" the play.  The "Tanzanian" character is a crowd favourite.  Prayer following our presentations is a wonderful time to minister to those in need who come forward for healing and various other matters.
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Saturday 11th July

Today was the New Life Foundation Conference and Hebron Christian College mission team members were VIP guests along with United States and South Korean representatives. Various representatives from local Government, the Police and the Immigration Department were present along with local ministers, NLF supporters and staff and former NLF staff and students.
After the welcome, some praise and worship and formal introductions, Mr Matthews spoke on the origin and development of the NLF-Hebron link and the way it has brought great blessing to both organisations. The team then took the floor and performed the loudest and most enthusiast rendition of their Maori songs, poi and hakas that we have ever seen. It almost blew the roof off! Then the two Pacific Island dances, Samoan and Tongan caught everyone’s attention and drew much applause. An absolutely dynamic performance by 18 amazing students and wonderful representatives of their families, churches, Hebron Christian College and the nation of New Zealand.
Various speeches by leaders from World Vision, Compassion International and NLF(US) took place in the afternoon followed lastly by a speech by our very own Mrs Ruth Scott talking on the topic: Investing in the Lives of Children – Inquiry Learning. Ruth very ably spoke of the need for teachers to develop good questioning techniques challenging children to think for themselves and come up with solutions to everyday problems rather than just being lectured to.
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Joshua (middle) and Lafi (right) took turns leading the haka
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The day was rounded off when about 15 former orphan/students gave testimonies regarding their life after leaving the orphanage and going onto university study. Two young men were about to leave for the United States after gaining scholarships at Oral Roberts University in Alabama, US to study medicine. One young women, Jane Dominique, a beautiful singer, shared her testimony being an orphan brought into the orphanage at an early age and now studying to be a teacher at a local teachers college.

The evening was one of relaxation as it was quite a long day for all and we have been working quite hard with our performances and tripping around. Tomorrow we are taking the service at the ICC Church in Central Moshi.

Sunday 12th July

Sunday morning saw us at another church for a full service “takeover”. The International Christian Church (ICC) is the second church Pastor Glorious Shoo has planted in the city of Moshi and a number of people associated with the New Life Foundation were members of this church. Our song leaders Miracle Falaniko and Joshua Scott led the church in some rousing praise songs with Miracle weaving her testimony into the praise and worship. The team then performed their kapahaka and Pasifika dances with birthday girl Juliet Douglas sharing her testimony on the revelation of God’s love in her life. After the team perform a Tongan dance, Losaline Finekifolau delivered an object lesson using a piece of string. The drama team then performed their “Tales” mime followed by some quality preaching by Rev Dr Marshall speaking on the "foolishness of God".
After lunch the team scuttled off to the local African craft shops to buy up their African curios to bring back to NZ – wooden and stone giraffes, elephants, hippos, rhinos, etc. Haren trousers for the girls were the popular item with just about every female team member buying a pair.
The team were then invited to the home of Mathias and Esther Msangi. Esther and Mathias spent about 4 months in Auckland 3 or 4 years ago study child evangelism at the Children’s Bible Ministry in Mt.Eden. Some of the team remember them at Hebron or when they attended the CBM camp at Raglan where they helped out during school holidays. The Msangis, along with their children Victor, El Shaddai and Shalom served us ice cream and this was greatly appreciated.
Back at our hotel, after dinner and singing Happy Birthday to Juliet (and cutting the cake), we had a quiet evening playing games and some watching the film Exodus.  Another great day in Africa.
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Monday 13th July

Our last full day in Moshi proved to be exactly that - a very full day.  It began with an early start being at the New Life Foundation Secondary School at 7:30am to take devotions.  This was followed  by an extended period of interaction between the secondary students,  There was a lot of fun and outbursts of song, dance and laughter.  After this was completed and we had had a quick, late morning back at the Primary School we traveled to the Fountain of Zoe (the NLF baby and pre-school center).  The center is currently nearly finished a refresh after ten years of heavy use and no looks sparkling again.  Back for a late and very fast lunch at 3pm we were soon on the road again back to the Primary School for the formal combined goodbyes.  After the team received some small gifts from our hosts and a number of items from our team and the schools we were led in what equated to a "worship dance party" by Miracle and Josh.  From the happy faces of the team and children it was very well received.  After lots of moving farewells we off to visit 's Violet and Godfrey's place for afternoon tea and then on to Pastor Glorious and Josephine Shoo's s place for dinner where Josephine had generously cooked for us all.
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Tuesday 14th July

Tuesday morning has seen us up bright and early to pack our bags, farewell the hotel staff (who had looked after us so well), get on the bus and travel to Dodoma in the middle of Tanzania.  The large bus was comfortable to travel in which was very much appreciated as we left before 8am and arrived at Dodoma at 6pm with a couple of very short toilet stops.  Lunch was provided in boxes en-route.  In Dodoma we have met up with the Mission SOS team which includes members from Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, the USA, about 60 translators from Tanzania and now ourselves.  We were very warmly welcomed by the international team several of whom we met on the prior mission in Tanga two years ago.  Our Hebron Christian College team was very fondly remembered and greetings are sent to the 2013 team.  Tomorrow will see us beginning our first day in Dodoma at 7am with the whole combined team for devotions and then out for our first mission work in Dodoma.
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Wednesday 15th July

Today was our first full day with the Mission SOS Festival and what a day it was! We all met for breakfast at 7am and started mingling with about 50 team members mostly from Sweden but also from Norway, Switzerland and the United States. Those who attended the 2013 Tanga Festival fondly remembered our team presence there and never forgot our haka. So we blessed them with a haka and poi song just before breakfast that got a rousing applause.
After breakfast the Hebron team split into two (drama team and non-drama team) and joined about 30 others and Swahili translators and set off for two outreach sites in the bustling city of Dodoma. After handing our Festival Flyers for about half an hour, we reassembled and started performing in front of a crowd of about 300. The Hebron students performed a poi song and a haka followed by a Samoan dance. A Swedish lady gave her testimony then some other Swedes performed a short drama. Hans, our team leader gave the gospel message and 95 people came forward to accept Jesus as their Saviour. After praying with them and recording their details, the sick, lame, deaf dumb and diseased were called forward for healing prayer. One lady prayed for by our team was bent over in pain and said she had broken ribs. Slowly she straightened up and declared herself free of pain. She not only testified to the crowd she was healed but produced an x-ray just taken at the local hospital which showed her broken ribs. That lifted the faith of everyone!

The non-drama team was taken to a challenging area to do ministry where most of the dwellers were of another faith.  The team did an excellent job of the poi, haka and Pacific songs and drew a good audience.  The SOS drama was also powerful and spoke volumes.  This was followed by a short talk by SOS leaders and an appeal was made.  Some 20 people came forward for salvation and people were prayed for in the audience for healing.  One of the older Muslim men present was so moved he left and came back with two trays of bottles of water for the team as a thank you for bringing the message of Jesus in to the area.  We saw a good number of these people also come to the evening meeting.
In the afternoon, we all headed off to the local field where the Mission SOS team had set up a gigantic stage along with a powerful sound system. Local church choirs performed and the crowd slowly built up and by about 4pm had reached about 10,000. Our very own Hebron student, Lafi Aso, was asked to join the Mission SOS band on the stage to play the bass guitar as the regular player had to go to hospital. We all got into a lot of African dancing and singing and in due course, Johannes Amritzer, the Mission SOS founder and evangelist took to the stage.  He preached with power and clarity, sharing the simple gospel message that we are all sinners and only the blood of Jesus can take away our sins. He then invited people to come forward to receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour and close to 1,000 people came forward to pray the sinner’s prayer and receive salvation.
Johannes then called the sick to come forward for prayer. As the healing prayer started people started shrieking and wailing, falling to the ground in demonic inspired fits, thrashing about with their hands and legs. Involvement with witch-doctors is known to be strong in this region. The “deliverance team’ quickly moved in and carried them off to the deliverance tent where demons were cast out of them, just like in Bible times. One young woman took 20 mins to calm down, then receive with tears,  Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. Two Hebron girls, praying for a mother clutching her baby, saw the same manifestation but quickly saw her regain h a sound state of mind and thank us all for our prayers.
We all came back to our hotel extremely buoyant and happy to know that we had done the Lord’s work, bringing great throngs to the Lord, setting the captive free and seeing the blind, deaf, dumb and crippled healed in the name of Jesus.
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Thursday 16th July

Our second day of full-on mission began with our team leading devotions for the whole mission group.  Miracle and Josh led an enthusiastic team in praise and music with a definite Pacific flavour that went down very well with our multinational colleagues. Devotions (from 7-8am each morning) are a quite enjoyable feature of the mission - sitting outside in the front courtyard worshiping, praying and listening. The on-going theme has been on focusing on the mission at hand - living in the now.  

The morning work focused on more street outreach again in our two teams working with international Mission SOS team members.  Team One performed twice in two different areas first performing the Hands drama then performing the Samoan song Aua E Silisili Oe. Approx 70 people came forward for salvation. Another great team effort.
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Team two went to a bus-stop area where a few technical problems with the generator meant we commenced the program without any power.  It was old-fashioned outreach with our backs to the wind singing and speaking without amplification. Team Kiwi carried the day with worship songs, Maori & Island items and the Haka unaccompanied.  By the time we were finished a reasonable crowd was growing in time to hear the gospel message.  A goodly number came forward at the salvation call and still more for prayer.  From the street outreaches alone today some 225 people asked for salvation prayer!

The evening saw us return to Baraka field for the evening outreach program.  With stunning clear skies as a backdrop a number of highlighted items were very popular with the crowd, including a set from a Tanzanian music star who is a strong Christian. Lafi was again asked to play. Following the message and altar calls our team was again in the thick of it praying for people and encouraging them.  We witnessed a number of remarkable healings including that of a boy mute from birth whose first word was Yesu (Jesus). See video. Click here

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Friday 17th July

We are can't believe we only have 3 more full days in Tanzania beTeam 1fore we fly out to Dubai on Monday afternoon. After dinner, Mr Matthews ask the team were happy they came to Tanzania. They resoundingly said "Yes" and some wanted to stay on longer! He suggested they return to Africa after their NCEA exams are finished and they agreed. We didn't think the parents would be so agreeable though...

The two Hebron teams joined with different Swedish, Norwegian and Swiss teams today and set up in different areas of the city. Team One (those in the Tales drama) had trouble finding a suitable spot but eventually found an area of about 50m² and kindly requested a local to shift his truck to create an open ground. The team performed their poi song and then the 3-boy haka (see photo). The crowd were receptive and gave them a good applause. A young Swedish woman preached and about 30 people came forward for salvation and healing prayer. After a short break, we started another programme in the same spot and a new crowd turned up. This time the team put on the Samoan dance and that caused the crowd to grow. Again the salvation appeal brought in about 25 people who were counselled, names taken and sent on their way.

Team Two went to the central market where a large crowd quickly gathered.  The Tanzanians love dance and drama and when we can off the lot as well as testimonies and preaching they love to come - in today's case in numbers.  Technically everything worked perfectly and the combined team was soon into action.  The crowd was large and keen and pressed in as close as they could get.  There was a wonderful response to the appeal with a sizable group committing their lives to the Lord and being followed up by local ministry teams. 
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The third night of the festival continued with the established pattern.  The Africans love to dance and the crowed learning the chicken dance was very humorous. No doubt the Principal's experienced Kiwi input helped this considerably.  Again we saw wonderful miracles of people coming to salvation and healings - notable were those of children with issues from birth (blindness, deafness and muteness etc) being miraculously healed. 

Saturday 18th July

Saturday began with breakfast followed by combined teams devotions (as we do each morning) then it was back out to the streets of Dodoma for more outreach and promotion of the evening festival.  Team two went to a popular market and its offerings were well received by the crowd - except by one.... As Mrs Scott was sharing her moving testimony she was interrupted by an angry pub owner who said our team was interfering with his custom.  He was sent off unsatisfied however as the team had a perfectly legal street preaching permit for the time and place we were at.   During the evening festival we were treated to yet more local musical and dance talent.  The team is now really looking forward to performing on the big stage tomorrow night as part of the grand finale. At the end of the evening event Pastor Glorious & Mrs Josephine Shoo were publicly honoured for the visionary work they had commenced and had been involved in, not just in Tanzania, but across Africa.
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Sunday 19th July

Sunday dawned bright and clear and promised another glorious day for our last full day in Dodoma and for the mission finale. We were off to an early start arriving at the .... church at 7:30am after a hurried breakfast.  We were taking part in the early english speaking service which was a smaller group of 40-odd in a massive church.  The main Kswahilii service had about 300+ parishioners.  After the team performed dance and drama items and heard three wonderful testimonies from Nathan Sellar, Jimson Mclean and Naomi Toluta'u, Mr Matthews spoke on "words" and the power of the various forms of speech.  The church put on a breakfast/morning tea then it was back to the hotel to pack and rest, plus a team talk and reflections on the trip, before heading out for the final mission of our sojourn in Dodoma.  

The crowd at the festival was significant being over fifty thousand and solidly crowding the fields (think lots of dust!).  Many people who had come to salvation during the week came to be baptized in a large pool set up to the left of the stage. Several baptisms were taking place at once during the afternoon. The crowd was in a very positive mood and the singing and dancing was a lot of fun with our students and staff joined in quite enthusiastically.   The message was once again excellent focusing on how God calls and equips people by His Spirit to do His work. There was a great response for salvation and for baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

We leave early tomorrow morning (5am) to head by bus to Dar Es Salaam arriving in time (with God's blessing) in time for our circa 5pm flight to Dubai.  There will probably be a lot of sleeping going on tomorrow ...
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Monday 20th July

Today's report is being written in Dubai at 3:47am on Tuesday morning as we have had not internet since leaving our Dodoma Hotel to arriving at our Dubai Hotel. It was a long day to say the least but we now have everyone comfortably in bed and they were all promised a sleep-in in the morning.

The day started at 4:30am with a wakeup call in order to board our chartered bus at 5am. Then it was off to Dar es Salaam, a journey of 7 hours through a variety of African landscape. The sunrise, for those who had not fallen asleep was absolutely stunning. Our bus had its own toilet so that eliminated the need to stop at the local smelly public toilets (if there were such things) or head into the bush! We also brought our own breakfast/light lunch snacks the day before and this saved time and money.
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We arrived at Julius Nyerere Airport at around1:30pm to discover our plane was delayed by 1 hour so we eventually departed Africa at 5:45pm instead of 4:45 pm. We landed at Dubai Airport just after midnight and walked into 36°C heat...a new experience for some. It was 50°C the previous day so we might be slightly warm during the day!. Should bring a bit of it back to NZ if what the NZ newspapers are saying are correct...cold icy and wet weather...you poor things!

The team is all hearty and in good spirits. Everyone has loved their time in Africa and so grateful for the opportunity to go on an overseas mission in their teenage years.

Must go and catch some sleep.

Tuesday 21st July

After an early morning arrival in our hotel in Dubai, 18 teenagers crawled out of their rooms between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning to start their 2-day stopover in this land of abundance. Some of the leadres joined me in a short walk to the ATM machine to draw our cash and purchase some drinking water. The temperature had already reach the high thirties!
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We then took taxis to the Wild Wadi Water Park. That was a great deal of fun for the 18 students and 4 leaders who attended. The water slide is one of the biggest in the world and that was very popular among the team members. The dounut rides were also a must with one or two people sitting on pumped up vinyl rings and being shot up and down the tubes. Then there was the wave pool – large waves created every 15 minutes. The temperature was now in the low 40s and staying in the water was the best way to combat the excessive heat.
At 5pm we returned to our hotel, then headed off to the Dubai Mall next to the Burj Kalifa tower, the tallest building in the world (at least at the moment…the Chinese are building a bigger one right now!) We had our dinner in the food court then spent a couple of hours shopping, mostly buying gifts for family back in NZ. Then it was off home in taxis and into bed for a good night’s sleep.

Wednesday 22nd July

Our second and last full day in Dubai is almost over. It is 10pm and the  students and staff are swimming and relaxing in the rooftop tepid swimming pool - entirely heated by sunlight, and a fitting activity to end our 2015 overseas mission.
The morning was taken up with a mission debrief which included the challenging question, “How has my life changed and how can I share this change with my family and friends back in New Zealand?” Various students shared the way in which the mission impacted them and ideas on sharing these concepts and practicalities once back in Auckland. We then prayed for each other.

Then it was off to the City centre Shopping mall for lunch and last minute shopping. This time we took the Metro underground train but when we returned, got off at the right station but took the wrong exit leading us into a part of the city that looked very unfamiliar. We finally got ourselves sorted out but the 45°C heat took its toll and we sent some back to the hotel in a taxi. Once back it was into the 4 x 4 wheel Toyota Landcruisers and off for our Desert Safari, namely driving up and down sand dunes on 15psi tyres and finally arriving at the banquet site where we rode camels, quad bikes and had falcons sitting on our shoulders. After starters, we were entertained by a “human light show” with a young man twirling around with an electrically illuminated skirts and cape. The it was banquet time followed by a belly dancer. The girls all got their hands and arms decorated with heena paintings. The evening ended with a ¾ hour drive back to our hotel in the centre of Dubai CBD.
The 2015 Mission has been very successful and we praise God for His blessing on the team, the spiritual fruit in salvations and healings, overall good health apart from some colds and tummy upsets, great team adults working hard for the students, a balanced and varied programme, good travel and 18 great students doing wonderful work for their Lord.
We will have a Mission Celebration Night in due course and we will inform you of the day and time as soon as possible. We hope your families, friends and relatives who have supported your son/daughter in attending this mission can come.
Website writers Colin Marshall and myself (Geoff Matthews) signing off on our last posting.