Becca Hamilton traveled to Arusha, Tanzania as part of Climbing for Change, a Young Life Africa trip that includes community outreach alongside YL Africa staff and leaders in a remote Masai Village Camp.
I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit l; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. This is to my Fathers glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples…..
There are a couple of words that come to mind as we wake up this morning in the village. Beauty, grandeur, Spirit, connection, fingerprints, rawness, creation, worship, foundation, laughter, sergeant, family.
What a huge blessing it has been to spend the last three days camped next to Isaiah’s family’s home in the Maasai village! Our perspectives of God’s people, His creation, hard work, and His stronghold have broadened.
Each day in the village began with a 6-7 am wake up (depending on how early a riser you are!) and coffee and breakfast by the fire. After a devotion, we were off to our project site – a boarding secondary school for approximately 600 boys and girls from surrounding villages. Young Life has a unique partnership with this school as of the past 3 or 4 years. In fact, they hold YL club every Saturday. Alexis and Papa Deo of Young Life Tanzania expressed the value of our service – as our work project is ultimately a reflection of Young Life’s care and compassion for the school as a whole.
We were tasked with painting two classrooms and also digging and laying the foundation for a new kitchen/dining room on the campus. Rollers, paint, shovels and pick axes were distributed amongst us and over the course of two days; and we tried our best to finish the projects. Yellow paint, dirt and cement covered limbs every evening – signs of hard work and team work. We were both amazed and encouraged by the strength, grit and willingness of the Tanzanian Young Life staff and secondary school leaders as they assisted greatly with the projects. Curious school children dressed in green, red, blue and grey uniforms gathered around the project sites during breaks and after school was dismissed- simply to catch a glimpse of us “muzungos” or to practice a phrase or two of English. Everyone agrees that the Tanzanians are far better at English than any of us are at Swahili! As the group finished a day’s work and walked back to our tent camp each afternoon, we carried with us snapshots of beautiful faces – bright brown eyes and big smiles that could light up a room.
Yesterday afternoon was certainly highlight…The Tanzanian teachers challenged our team in a soccer game. “Challenged” might be an understatement. We were certain that the Tanzanians would put us to shame, but we held our own on that bumpy, rooty dirt field. Perhaps it was the rush of having a crowd of nearly 200 school children laugh and cheer from the sidelines. The love of a familiar game and a little friendly competition broke down the language barrier within a few minutes. Children running, dust flying, frisbee and soccer balls in the air; vegetables sautéing and ugali on the stove tops; red table cloths and lanterns decorating tables; contagious laughter echoing for miles it seemed. As we gathered for dinner in the village, stories about the day were shared as we all enjoyed delicious meals prepared by the Tanzanian crew. Every night, we gathered around the campfire to worship, share specific memories of the day and hear snippets of each other’s stories. The Tanzanian song Bambalaya was definitely a group favorite!! It was a joy to listen to prayers and cries of each other’s hearts as we have all recently met.
The campfire simmered every night as we tucked into our tents. A symphony concert -of animal noises -serenaded us as we tried to catch a few hours of good shut eye.
These days in the village will mark each of our hearts forever. Papa Deo asked a few questions each night, “Are you connected to the vine?” Are you bearing good fruit” We will continue to pray for each other – that we will stay firmly connected to the vine, to Jesus, and to reconnect ourselves daily. Memories of the Maasai village will continue to encourage our hearts – that He is Lord over all creation – over His people here in this village that might have the opportunity to know Him through the work of Young Life. We will continue to pray for the Tanzania Young Life team here – that their work would be honored and uses for His glory. It will be our hope to serve as ambassadors and servants of Christ just as the Young Life team is doing here, across Africa and throughout the world!