Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lord's Day at Mbeya

Our first Lord's day at Mbeya was really nice. We were told that services started at 10.00 a.m., so Anne and I were there about 20 minutes early (We had been show where the building was the day beforehand).  As is often the case here, many of the brethren were not there at start time, but Bro. Samuel started anyway, I believe he had an extra long song service to give the late comers time.

The singing here is some of the best we have heard in Tanzania (and all the singing is good). They use different song books to which Anne and I are used to, so we were not used to many of the songs. It was very uplifting though.

The whole service was very orderly and respectful. All listened actively to my lesson and the Lord's Supper was conducted with the respect it truly deserves. When we had finsished Brother Samuel told me he was disappointed that more had not come - some of the newest members were not present. But we had a wonderful service anyway.

After morning services Bro. Samuel told me they had an arrangement to go to the Children's Prison to teach there and they wanted me to come. So, after dropping Anne off at the Karibuni Centre we headed off.

We reached the gates that were half open without any sings or guards around. We then drove up through a dusty field to the prison building. Still there was no one around. I followed the brothers right through the first door into to prison - it was standing open. We then reached the second door which was latched with a bit of wire. Samuel was having trouble opening it, so one of the boys inside opened it for him.  Still there was not guard, in fact no security at all!

We were greeted very respectfully by the boys. Here a younger person will say to an older person "Shikamo". The elder will respond with "Marahaba" Literally this translates to "I kiss your feet" and the response is "delightful". While it sounds a but funny and it take a bit of getting used to, it is good to see the respect that is shown here.

We were shown to the office where we were to sign in - everyone was very nice. An older man looked in charge and there was a very motherly woman in the background. While we were signing in the boys quietly moved into the class room next door. They sat respectful and listen well.  The translator, Felix then asked the boys if they knew any hymns. They raised their hands and Felix chose one at a time. They sang one line of the song and the rest of the boys would then sing along. They did such a good job. In all they sang 4 songs and clearly enjoyed every minute of it. There were boys there ranging from 10 years to 18 and all were actively taking part.

It was then my turn to teach. On seeing the garden out side I decided to teach them about the parable of the sower. They all knew about farming, sowing seeds and different types of soils, so they were sitting very interested. After about 30 minutes I stopped and asked for questions. What they really wanted to know was what was Australia like. "Was there children prisons there?", "Did children live on the streets?"

While I don't know their stories or their crimes, I know they were just boys who had left their mothers behind. My heart went out to them.

The congregation in Mbeya has evening services on the Lord's day - none of the other congregations I work with here do.  They meet at 4.00 p.m. and Samuel had invited a man we had studied with on Saturday - he is a follower of William Branham. So Samuel had asked me to teach on prophesy. Again the service went very well. The visitors were respectfully received and everything was performed in a goodly way.

It is a real privilege to work with such Christians.
Felix and Lorent

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