In earlier posts I have mentioned my friends Msoshi and Rebeka. I have also mentioned that we are planning a trip to Tanzania to visit their family in refugee camps there. We were held up because Rebeka had not received permission to leave the US and return. She is a refugee and cannot leave our country without permission from the Dept of Homeland Security. Msoshi is also a refugee, but he received his citizenship in July. Good News!!!! Rebeka received permission a week ago. Now our trip planning is in full throttle.
We plan to leave here October 16 and return home November 14. The next huge step in our process is for Rebeka to get an entry Visa from Tanzania. Being citizens, Msoshi and I will have no problems. Please pray for that process for us.
Besides visiting family, whom they have not seen for ten years, our focus of this trip is fact finding. We speak at churches and other organizations trying to make people aware of the conditions of the Congolese people. It is as bad for them in these camps as anything you will see about Darfur or any of the other hot spots in Africa. Msoshi and Rebeka will be taking many pictures to bring back for our speaking engagements. I will not be taking pictures because the country is not friendly towards foreigners taking them and I may photograph something that is prohibited. Schools, hospitals, airport, railroad, gov buildings etc, etc, etc. Just better that I do not take any that may make our visit harder for us. Originally, we were going to spend our first couple of nights in the home of a Minister in Dar Es Salaam. He is an African also, and will be accompanying us on our trip to Kigoma. He called this week and said he was afraid for us to stay with him because if the "thugs" found out there was a "rich" white American staying in his home, it may be broken into and everyone robbed. We are now going to be staying at a Catholic Mission compound in Dar Es Salaam. Again, prayers are much coveted and appreciated.
With all of this and other dangers of the trip, "Why am I going?"
Let me tell you.
For about six years I have been meeting with these friends to pray for their families and the conditions in the refugee camps and in the Congo. About two years ago we began to feel pressed to go to visit the camps. The people over there know that we pray for them every week, but they feel totally forgotten by the world. Every time we would talk about going, someone would say, "We are praying about it." This went on for about a year.
In November of '07, on a Wednesday afternoon, I was relaxing in a hot bath. My favorite form of relaxation. I swear I was in the house ALL BY MYSELF, when I heard a voice say to me, "Even if the rest of the team can't go, I want you to."
Believe me, I sat straight up in the tub, than I remembered I was naked so I sank back down into the water. I know how Eve felt now. I sat there for a couple of minutes and did not hear anything else so I said. "God, you know I am afraid to fly." Nothing. "God, you know I do not like shots." Nothing. Then I thought I had the clincher. "God, you know Stan will not let me go." Nothing. By now, my bath was ruined and I got out. I immediately called Byaombe, one of the team members, and told him what had happened. He began to laugh with the most delighted laugh. I argued the same arguments with him that I had with God. Every argument I had, he covered with scripture. I was getting nowhere with him so I said I had to go and call Stan. I called Stan at work and told him. I really expected him to scoff at me but his reply was, "I have been telling you you need a passport." He had and I had been putting him off because I did not know I was going any place that I would need one.
I applied for my passport and settled in to wait the six weeks they told me it would take. Two weeks and I had it.
The next step was for Msoshi and Rebeka to get permission to leave the U.S. and return. Because of their refugee status we could not make the trip without the permission. We waited and waited and waited. We would call and they would tell us their applications have not come up yet so we would continue to wait. In the meantime, Msoshi passed his citizenship test and was able to get his passport also. Now we are only waiting for Rebeka. As I said earlier, her permission finally arrived last week.
What a flurry of getting ready now. We are applying for our visa's. The only hurdle left for us to cross. As citizens, Msoshi and I will be granted a visa. Because Rebeka is not a citizen, getting permission for her is a little more involved. We are getting letters from her pastor here in the U.S. guaranteeing that she is involved in a church here. A pastor in Tanzania is also writing a letter of recommendation for her. We are told that with the letter from the Tanzanian pastor her application should only take a week.
Above all, while we continue with our preparations, we ask for prayer for a safe trip and a trip that is conducted to the glory of the Lord.