Today was the day we had been preparing for. The first global workers from Africa arrived here in Tanzania. We had prayed and thought about them as they drove, flew, and (for a few) bounced on long bus rides from seven different African countries, including two as far away as the west coast. As they picked up their folders and welcome packages, filled with lotion, music, chocolate, hand-crocheted dish cloths, and trail mix, their faces showed the delight of being cared for.
Next came the “pampering” sign-ups for haircuts, pedicures, consultations with professional counselor or a nurse. Many were pensive as they scheduled their appointments.
The festivities began in a large circle with some robust worship singing and a welcome by the staff and speaker. A highlight of my day was meeting in our small groups and hearing their stories. Personally, I was entranced with the enthusiasm for ministry shown by the 30-somethings in my group who, in addition to homeschooling their young children, were doing such incredible ministry in remote and often dangerous places.
Then they played a hilarious ice-breaker game of moving a few seats to the right or left if some experience or characteristic was true for them, often ending up on each other’s laps. These included things like “move if you speak more than 3 languages” or “if you have been stopped on the road by an animal” (and then describing zebra or monkey or camel that was in their way). Laughter is good for the soul and being understood by a whole roomful of other workers in Africa was even better.
What a privilege it will be to bless and be blessed during this first retreat!
Cindy Judge | First Time Retreat Volunteer