Gilgal Baptist Church

On Sunday, we traveled about 2 hours to Gilgal Baptist Church in Namanga, Tanzania.  Namanga is a border town and part is in Tanzania and part is in Kenya.  Jim and Jon Ozmint did training on the Kenyan side last year.  In the right photo above, you can see the small generator on the left that they use to power a p.a. system, an electric piano, and lights when needed.


Pastor Solomon (on the right, above) started this church not long ago.  He is a mobile messenger and moved to the area to start the church.  Pastor Simon is on his left.  The church is in a Maasai community.  We were a little late getting there and the church was already singing.  We came in and joined right in.  Robert has been keeping his singing voice under wraps!  Though we couldn’t understand all the words, there was no doubt they were singing their praise to God.

Pastor Tom Burger, from With Open Eyes, preached from God’s word.  I’m glad I didn’t have to wear a coat like Tom, because it was a tad warm in the church!  Below on the left, Pastor Simon is translating for him.  After he finished, Tom asked those that wanted to be prayed for to come forward.  The team then layed hands on those we could get to and prayed for them.

About that time, the other team from With Open Eyes pulled up.  They had gotten in really late the night before from Charlotte.  So we had to introduce them and do some more singing.  I think we finished up around 3pm!

We then went to Pastor Simon’s house and had a wonderful lunch prepared by his wife Agnes and his girls.  We took a look at the garden where Jim and Jon helped set up the drip irrigation last year.  They are getting ready to plant again.


We were also able to visit Pastor Simon’s church, Namanga Baptist Church.  It is in an area of Namanga that has several mosques.  Pastor Simon believes in getting the word out.  He also uses Facebook to share  what the church is doing.

We then journeyed back to Arusha.  The area is in the midst of a bad drought.  A lot of animals are dying and people are hungry.  It is a sad situation.  We are trying to get supplies in to distribute a number of drip irrigation kits for them to use, but have been having logistics problems.

On Monday, we went back to Gilgal and met with the Mobile Messengers of the area.  There were about 18 there.  It was a treat to meet them and spend time with them.  One of the men on the With Open Eyes team is Dr. Winston Godwin and he spent some time talking with the pastors about health issues.

We wrapped up our time in Namanga and headed back to Arusha.  As we approached Mount Meru, it started raining.  It will rain on the Arusha side of the mountain but not on the Namanga side.  But we were glad for those who got some rain.  We cleaned up a bit and went to Khan’s Barbeque again.  I felt like Robert and I couldn’t keep it a secret from the With Open Eyes crew.  We all enjoyed ourselves and ate too much!

The larger With Open Eyes team is headed to Sudan tomorrow morning.  They are delivering more motorcycles for pastors there.  The rest of us will travel to Meto, Tanzania to meet with more Mobile Messengers.  Prayers are appreciated.  We will be without communication until Thursday afternoon.  We hope to update you then!




Mount Kilimanjaro

On Saturday, Robert and I took part in a hike partway up Mount Kilimanjaro with Tom Burger and Pastor Simon Wairerah from With Open Eyes.  We had to leave our hotel at 6:30am.  We met the other guys at their lodge a little later than expected because our driver couldn’t find it.  The only marking was a sign with a K on it and then you drove into what looked like a banana farm.  But at the end of the trail was this:


It was absolutely gorgeous.  We packed up our box lunch and headed to the gate of the park.  My Carolina friends may not appreciate the picture on the left, but they’ll just have to deal with it.  On the right, is a bag from Longleaf Middle School in Columbia.  The whole school read ‘A Long Walk to Water’ last year and they asked me to come talk about my experiences in South Sudan.


We entered the park at about 10am.  Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk.  I don’t think I’ve ever walked so far in my life.  Did I mention it was also uphill??  It was REALLY uphill!  You are walking through a rain forest as you are going up and it is really spectacular.  Huge trees.  Dense foliage.  Our guide, Ronald was great.  We finally turned around before reaching the first camp, but should have turned around sooner.  My left knee went into revolt when we started down.  Don’t think I’ve ever endured so much continuous pain in my life.  But I had no other option to get down.  There are some areas where there are steps and those were the worst part on my knee.  But I made it all the way down on my own and I feel no need to try that again!

Below are porters.  They carry climbing equipment up for people who are climbing further up the mountain.  It takes about a week to go up all the way and come back down.  The elevation is over 19,000 feet and it is the tallest peak in Africa.


On the left, above, is a Kilimanjaro impatiens.  It only grows on the mountain.  Could it be that the mountain is also a Clemson fan??

We came out of the park at about 5pm.  My knew nickname could have been ‘Hopalong,’  because there was a definite hitch in my giddy-up!  After a good round of Advil, the old knee started cooperating again.  What a day!

Field Trip and ECHO Center Tour

On Friday we were able to take part in a field trip during the morning.  We went out to a farm near Arusha were Tillers International was demonstrating some of their animal drawn equipment.  They are working to provide new tools for farmers to use with conservation agriculture.


ECHO was our host for the conference and they have a training center/tree farm/seed lab here in Arusha.  The director, Erwin Kinsey (on the right, below) is a wealth of information and it was a delight to get to spend some time with him.

Sorry for the fuzziness of this next picture.  But couldn’t resist.  Have no idea exactly what a snot apple is, but I definitely haven’t asked for any apple pie the last few days!


A group affiliated with Willow Creek Church in Chicago allowed us to tag along on their tour of the ECHO facility.  They are a great bunch of people and their director grew up in Augusta.  Small World.  They work in mostly southern Africa.  After the tour, they asked us to accompany them to dinner.  We went to Khan’s Barbeque.  If you ever find yourself in Arusha, you owe it to yourself to go eat there.  Good eats again!

As you can see we are eating outside.  The weather has been great.  Around 85 or 90 during the day and in the 60s at night.  Arusha is at a little higher elevation than some of the other locations we have been to.

End of the Ag Conference

Sorry to be so long in posting an update!  It’s been a busy few days and the internet has been a bit cantankerous!  Hopefully I can get a few things posted tonight.  We finished up the conference on Thursday.  Robert opted for a lighter lunch of crackers and a little nap.  Jim happened to meet a young woman in the LONG lunch line that works with an orphanage in western Tanzania.  We were able to get to know one another pretty well by the time we got through the line.  She is looking for some help with drip irrigation.  We have exchanged emails and will begin the process of looking into how EDEN might help.  How about that?

The conference drew to a close with the performance of a Maasai choir from Arusha.  They were so talented.

They also serenaded us as we started our banquet that evening.  We have had someimg_0793really good food this week!  I don’t think I’ve lost a pound yet!  But we are heading into the bush soon, so that may change!

A few random thoughts..

It has been a long day.  Robert and I both awoke around 3am last night and could not get back to sleep.  At least the phone didn’t ring last night!  I had forgotten what wild dreams this malaria medication can evoke.  Maybe my brain decided it had had enough and didn’t want any more of those.  I’ll spare you the details!

I had also forgotten how much energy it can take to understand folks for whom English is a second language.   I think I have more sympathy now for folks from up North who come visit down South!  But thank the Lord these folks in Africa know English.  If it was up to me knowing Swahili, we would be in trouble indeed.

I have determined that I do not like warm (actually hot!) milk with my cereal.  I do not like it here.  I do not like it there.  I do not think I would like it anywhere!

As to the conference:  what’s up with all the acronyms?  It’s like somebody exploded a case of alphabet soup up in here!  I’ve never seen so many acronyms!

On a more serious note, it was a fruitful day at the conference.  I really was affirmed about some of what we are doing with EDEN through the dialog and presentations today.  Robert and I were both able to engage some other participants and have some good discussions.  I was able to connect with an irrigation supplier here in Arusha at the small trade show that was held.  Hopefully they can help with our supplies for this area.

We made it for the morning worship this morning.  It was a little different for the worship leader to have an Aussie accent, but neat to know that we serve the same God.  And He can understand us, no matter what the accent!

Sorry I didn’t get any pictures today, but we’ve been inside the hotel all day!  I’ll try to do better tomorrow!

Arusha, Tanzania

Mount Meru

After a 24 hour journey, we finally made it to Arusha, Tanzania.  The flights were relatively uneventful.  No crying babies!  Yay!  No sleep, though.  We got in along with about 300 other tired people at about 9pm.  The visa process was something else, however.  Had to wait and wait.  Get in this line to pay.  Then that line to stamp.  Then that line to take a picture.  Then that line to fingerprint.  Finally got out!  But then……customs!  They were not happy with our drip irrigation kits.  Tried to explain we were taking them to Kenya.  Back and forth.  At one point I thought I was going to have to pay a $170 duty on them….almost as much as they are worth here!  And to do it, I would have to leave the airport, exchange money and return because they would not take US dollars.  And by this time it is 10:30 or so.

Well, it was either my charm or Robert’s boyish good looks, but we got out without a duty!  Just kidding, know it was the Lord’s favor.  But…..we got outside and our shuttle to the hotel had left us!  Oh boy!  We talked with a taxi driver and he agreed to take us (about an hour drive).  Moses was a good driver, goes to church and farms a little.  We finally stumbled into our hotel at about 12:30.

Arusha, from a hotel balcony.

I think I got about 5 hours sleep last night.  Slept like a rock until my phone rang at 3:30….some toll free number from the US.  How does that work?  Thankfully, I fell right back to sleep.  Anyway, we had to be up early for the start of the conference.  It is sponsored byt ECHO, a group who promotes agricultural development around the world.  There is a pile of people here!  It is exciting to hear about what is going on.  Not much talk of South Sudan, though.


Robert and I nearly slept through the last two sessions… least I did anyway!  It has been a long day.  Think we will get a bite to eat and call it an early evening!

Off We Go……..

Robert Dickinson and Jim Mixson are headed to Tanzania and Kenya!  Here is the info on the trip.  Prayers are appreciated!  Stay tuned for updates, depending on their internet temperament!

February 2017 Trip Details

February 5  —  Depart Columbia at 12pm.

February 6  —  Arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania at 8:40pm.  Tanzania is 8 hours ahead of SC.  We Will be staying at the Naura Springs Hotel in Arusha.

February 7-9  —  Agricultural Missions Conference with ECHO.

February 10 —  Meet with representatives with World Hope Ministries International and see their Bible college.  James Roberts taught here last April.

February 11 —  We will meet a team from With Open Eyes and go on a day hike up Mount Kilimanjaro.  We will go up to an elevation of about 4000 feet and then back down.

February 12  —  We will worship at a Maasai church outside of Arusha.

February 13  —  We will return to the same church to fellowship with and minister to the congregation.

February 14 – 16 —  One With Open Eyes group leaves for the Nuba Mountains in South Sudan.  Our group will travel to Meto to minister at the Maasai church there.  We will be camping out on the Serengeti Plain for 2 nights.  Should have brought my hyena repellant!  We will do a short training session on conservation farming methods and improved crop storage with the pastors in the area.  We will also be gleaning information about the Maasai people and their changing needs.  We travel to Nairobi, Kenya in the afternoon of the 16th

February 17  —  We have meetings with several irrigation part suppliers to talk about sourcing drip irrigation parts.  We will also meet with a friend of Marvin Bozard (GAiN) who is a native Kenyan involved in agriculture work in Africa.  We plan to have dinner with the returning group from the Nuba Mountains and hear a report of their trip.

February 18  —  We will travel to a special needs school north of Nairobi.  We will look at ways we might support their efforts and get an idea of how it operates.  We have the child’s Gospel bracelets to give them.  We fly out of Nairobi late on Saturday night.

February 19  —  We arrive in Columbia at 5:21pm.