Warning: This is the longest post ever.....
I just returned from a trip of a lifetime. Never did I imagine that I would get to travel to Africa or see the other side of the world. On June 10th, Matthew and I and 5 other teammates boarded a plane to Tanzania in order to serve an orphanage called Neema House ("Grace House") in Arusha. We spent 2 weeks there holding babies, playing with toddlers, teaching Bibles studies, and we even got to go on a safari!
Neema House was started only 5 years ago, but has grown to house 44 babies in those short years. They are currently finalizing the building of a new baby house that can hold up to 60 babies on the most gorgeous tract of land you have ever seen. It overlooks Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. This land will also host 2 smaller homes for older children who are unadoptable, a home for widows, a new playground, and a building that will serve as both a church and a school. These precious children are not able to go to church right now, because Neema House does not have enough transportation to get them there, so we are excited at the opportunity to have a church right on their property.
God is working in so many ways to open doors so that this ministry can flourish and these children can be cared for physically and spiritually.
Here is some of what we did:
|Joan Smith, Kent Smith, Me, Matthew, Noah Archibald, Grace Mahaffey, Rylee Clinton|
We had a very long layover in London, so we got out and explored the city for a few hours.
Matthew & I on the "Tube" - "Mind the Gap"
After traveling in the air for over 24 hours, we finally made it to Tanzania!
|Baby Olivia (the youngest at Neema House)|
As soon as we got to the baby house, I had to get my hands on the infants.
|Shabani (look at that smile!)|
|Zawadi (aka Black Beauty because she is gorgeous!)|
|Tuma (one of the sweetest kids at Neema House)|
We got to take a tour of the new land and buildings at Neema Village.
This is an amazing set up stairs leading up to the entrance of the new baby house.
Our team with the project manager of Neema Village.
This man was installing a window on the 2nd story of the baby house. I had to leave the room because I was sure he was going to fall out of the window and die.
We are standing on the slab of one of the older kid homes.
A couple of days later, we came back to the new property to help with some projects. The girls helped Julius prep a new flower bed near the Widow's Home and the boys helped trim some trees and clear some brush.
|Nengai & Carol Ann|
|Shabani & Grace|
|Nengai was Matthew's favorite...so gorgeous!|
We got to bring some of the older kids out to the new land so that they could see the progress and eat a picnic. Kent & Joan had been to Neema House and built relationships with the kids in the past. They realized that these children do not have any toys to call their own, so that picked out a toy for each child and let them unwrap the gifts at the picnic. The kids were so happy just to open a gift!
On Sunday, we got to travel to a Maasai church. The Maasai are a tribe of people who live in east Africa. They are known for being fierce warriors and very tall and thin. Very few Maasai are Christians, so it was a joy to get to worship with them. You will notice that the Maasai wear either red plaid or blue plaid every day. They are some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen.
|I was so envious of this woman's earrings!|
One day for lunch, we took the older kids to a nearby restaurant that had a playground.
|Matthew & Tuma|
|Shabani...I can't get enough of him!|
We spent a ton of time in the infant room.
We shared the volunteer house with a group from A&M. They were such hard workers and had been there for 2 weeks before we got there. They stayed another week after we left. We were blown away by their servant attitudes.
This amazing tree was at a restaurant where we dined. The weather in Arusha was so pleasant! It got up into the mid 70's in the daytime and down into the 50s at night. We got to eat outside a lot.
|Group potty training|
|Nengai & Matthew = Inseparable|
A craft from our Daniel lesson
|Noah learned how to hold babies!|
|Osiligi (spit-up king)|