Archive for the ‘Young Life’ Category

Zac and Hannah

Shortly after arriving in Dar, we met a couple who does International School Young Life here in Africa, Zac and Hannah West. We had no idea then that we would have lots of opportunities to hang out and grow close to them over this year.

The work they do here is very different from the Young Life Africa national ministries. They work at International Schools in Arusha, Tanzania, which are comprised of students from all over the world. Many of their parents are UN workers, Ambassadors, NGO workers, and wealthy businessmen and women in the community. The students come from outside of Arusha, and are boarded at the schools. This makes for a challenging yet awesome opportunity to come along side these kids and share Jesus.

Zac and Hannah have now lived in Arusha for two and half years, and are doing such amazing work. The have around 60 kids that come to club each week and just this year had the first ever International School Camp, which we were blessed to be apart of. What is most amazing, is how passionate they are about loving these kids and the work they are doing.

Besides being great at what they are doing, they are also just so much fun to be around. Hannah, is a whiz in the kitchen and is always teaching me new tricks and tips, and Zac is so funny and always has Austin and I rolling with laughter. We love visiting them for many reasons. First, Arusha is a great break from the heat here. Second, we love their cute house, with its beautiful view of Mt. Meru and its location in the coffee plantation. Third, we love playing games and the great conversations we have.

We have been so grateful for their friendship and pray that their work continues to be fruitful. We are also praying for them as they are in the process of adoption here which is so very complicated. Please join us in prayer for their ministry and adoption.


Iringa Camp

A few days after getting laundry done and a bit of rest, Austin and I hopped back in the car and headed to Iringa, a city in the southern part of Tanzania, to serve at the first ever camp in Iringa. We went with Opas, Len, and Neal some of our good friends from Dar es Salaam, who also serve with Young Life Africa.

On the drive over we passed through Mikumi National Park that is the closest safari park to Dar es Salaam. As we passed through we got to see some animals for free, giraffes, zebras, monkeys and cape buffalo just off the side of the road. Pretty awesome if you ask me. It definitely made for a more interesting car ride.

Giraffes on the side of the road.

When we arrived we were happy to see that Iringa, was also very cold. We wore jackets and scarves which is a first for our time here in Tanzania. The town is placed in the midst of hills that are full of rocks. This made Austin very excited as we have not seen any rocks that are climbable since we have arrived here. Too bad we left his climbing gear in America. Iringa also has a great market that we got to check out and buy baskets from. There is also an awesome NGO there called Neema Crafts, which employs and helps disabled Tanzanians. It is an amazing ministry they do and their crafts are beautiful. We bought a few things from them and enjoyed coffee and snacks at their cafe.

We were joined by many of the same team who helped us with the Arusha camp. We all sat together and tried to plan the camp, however, this proved to be difficult because we had never had camp there before and because the University where the camp was to take place was not cooperating.

Nothing went as planned but camp was still a success. Our welcome, was not typical because we were not allowed to make much noise but the kids loved it anyways. The first club was held in a field at the school the kids attend. We had to pull weeds and clean up the area first, but everyone enjoyed it and the weather was perfect.

The First Club.

The kids headed back to the University with their leaders, on a scavenger hunt created by Austin and a few of the work crew.

Upon their arrival we greeted them and gave them a room key. Unfortunately we did not have enough rooms for everyone and many of them had to share with many others, but there was not complaint at all.  I love that about the kids here, they do not complain about much at all. They are grateful and full of joy.

Club #2 went well in our homemade club room. We bought fabric and sewed it together to create colorful walls, and decorated the dining hall as well.

Sewing up a colorful club room.

The food for this camp was incredible. Mama Edda, who runs YL Iringa, had some of her friends cater and they were amazing. Up until this week I did not know such food existed here. Austin and I were  very happy about this!

Obstacle courses, field games and much more went on in the few days to follow, however, everything about this camp was go with the flow. We did not know what was going to happen until the moment it happened. At times I was frustrated with this, but you just have to learn how to roll with the punches.

Alexi playing the vuvuzela.

Overall, the kids, leaders and work crew were very happy with their camp experience. It was a pleasure to serve at this camp and we pray that there are many more to come in the future for Iringa.

I heart Work Crew!

Arusha Camp

This summer we have had the awesome privilege of serving at some local Young Life camps here in Tanzania. First on the map was the Arusha Camp.

The Arusha Camp takes place at a local school called Peace House. Peace House was created 2 years ago by an American, and is school for children who would not otherwise be able to afford any education. The school itself is on a beautiful plot of land that has a beautiful view of Mt. Meru. It is a perfect location to hold camp as there are many dorms, and room for lots of people!

We arrived and were greeted by our dear friends Martin, Alexis, Jaque and others who work for Young Life Africa. Because camp for the Arusha YL had already been there before, they had a good idea of what needed to be done. Austin and I, along with our friends Zac and Hannah were Work Crew Bosses, this means we were in charge of the kids who came to make sure that camp was clean, ready and welcoming for the kids who have not been to camp. Austin was in charge of the Outdoor Crew, making sure the grounds looked great, and the obstacle course was full of mud. I was in charge of house keeping, making sure that everyone had a place to sleep and that it was clean.

The wedding band welcoming the kids to camp

Campers came being greeted by a traditional wedding band which was awesome. The work crew all grabbed branches from trees and paraded in with them. Martin, who was in charge of program, made sure to give them a big welcome as Mr. Biggie Biggie.

Martin as Mr. Biggie Biggie

After all 290 leaders and campers got settled we had our first meal. To say that it was loud is an understatement. The DJ was blasting, many kids had the world cup staple, the vuvuzela, blowing, and two kids even came in with trumpets blaring. The love LOUD!

After dinner we had the first club which was full of energy! To conclude the night, the campers and leaders went through the obstacle course. They had to crawl through mud, dodge water and flour, and carry their leaders in the cold windy weather, but they loved it thoroughly!

Mastering the obstacle course with vuvuzelas!

The second day was full of work for the work crew. We were all very tired at the end of cleaning up all of the mud from the obstacle course! I even got to serve as the camp nurse, which was interesting because I am not, nor should I ever be a real nurse. However, a few kids needed some mending. One girl had gotten lime in her eyes, because they used that instead of flour. Needless to say she needed a good cleansing. Poor baby. By the end of the week she was back to normal. Praise the Lord.

Later the kids had field games and ended the night with cultural dancing which was interesting to say the least. Each cabin put together a dance that was native to some of their own tribes. Many groups made their own grass skirts, from the fields.

Using nature to show off some tribal moves.

On the third day the kids were taken on a Safari. Most Tanzanians never have the opportunity to go on safari, even though they live in the safari capital of the world, so this is a HUGE treat for them. The kids loved it! While they were on Safari, the work crew cleaned and got to rest. We took a beautiful walk into the hills where there are some flower fields. They were gorgeous.

Flower fields with my honey : )

The fourth day we had one last club, cleaned up and headed out! It was a lot of work in a short amount of time but well worth it.

While there it was easy to feel very out of place. Although I know the ins and outs about camp in America, camp in Tanzania is very different. Not only were we of different color but our ways of thinking, and planning are so very different. I had to have much patience. This opened my eyes very much to what our friends Jaque, Alexis, and Martin must have gone through when we first met them and they were serving at Lost Canyon in America, in 2008. I can only imagine how overwhelming our American camp was to them.

After camp was over, I had a chance to talk to them about this and they very much agreed that it was overwhelming. The experience of serving at their camp was very rewarding and a wonderful opportunity for me to learn how Young Life can translate cross culturally.

All camp photo.

Camp LUSHOTO!!!!!!!!!

Okay so now it is time to get caught back up, which actually means events from before we were home.

At the end of March, we got to be a part of the first ever International School Young Life Camp. Young Life in Africa is focused on ministry with the nationals and having the nationals lead it, however there is a small nitch where international people are able to come over and do Young Life. In many African, and other countries there are international schools. These schools are generally for the children of diplomats, UN workers, NGO workers and other people who come from all over the world.

Here in Tanzania there are 5 International Schools that have some form of YL at them.

Anyways, we have become good friends with those who are leading at these schools and so we came together to plan camp for these kids. Along with their kids we took a group of Wyld Life Leaders from HOPAC. In total we had about 40 kids.

The camp took place in the mountainous town of Lushoto. Austin and I packed in a bus with 20 HOPAC kids. Inevitiably the bus broke down multiple times and it poured rain so it took much longer but I was impressed with the fact that the kids did not complain at all. You can tell they have all been in Africa for a while. These kinds of things don’t phase them. It is simply a part of life they have come to understand.

Finally, we arrived at camp. It was held at a beautiful, and secluded lodge far in the mountains of Lushoto. It was cold there so I was more than happy about that!

Austin and I did program, which means we dressed up in silly costumes, lead games and sang songs. We went as Tanzanian Olympic Goat Herding Champions Cuzi and Suzi Mbuzi (mbuzi means goat in Swahili). The whole weekend the kids were bleating like goats at us which was super funny.

Cuzi and Suzi Mbuzi

We also each lead a cabin of kids. It was so great getting to know some of them better and being able to see them have fun and let loose. We went on a bike ride, went fishing, and did arts and crafts. As a large group we all went hiking to a waterfall. It was raining and cold during that time but everyone still had fun.

Most importantly we got to sit and talk with the kids and just be their friends. We talked about dating, and parents, school and faith. I enjoyed our time so much and I know that Austin did too. We are hoping that we will be able to help out with another one of these in the coming year.

HOPAC kids after some Messy games.

Birthday Club!

Birthday Hats (note the recycled Blue Band hats)

Who doesn’t love Birthdays?

I would venture to say that of all of the themed clubs I have done over the years, Birthday Club is still on  the top of my list.

Here are my reasons why:

My very own home made Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

1. Everyone loves birthdays and you only get one a year, so why not pretend and add another.

2. The games are so fun and take me back to memory lane. Pin the tail on the donkey,  Hitting the pinata, Musical Chairs and so many more.

3. Birthday Songs. Okay so most people only know the birthday song, but I have an awesome collection of some sweet Birthday Jams like “Hip Hop Happy Birthday,” “Ice Cream and Cake,” and “Happy Birthday Techno Remix.”

4. Birthday Decorations. So fun. So easy. Birthday hats that make your chin itch. Blowers that give out too easily. Streamers. Balloons. And shiny Birthday Banners.

Dyan cutting the amazing Birthday Cake!

5. Birthday Cake! Delicious. Doesn’t matter what kind, color or flavor.

6. Goody bags for the way home.

We put together Birthday Club for Wyld Life and it was a hit. If you haven’t tried it yet you should.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pizza Time with the girls.

International School Training

During February for a very short few days, Austin and I got to partake in the International School Training for Young Life Africa.

Working with International schools is very different from what the rest of YL Africa looks like. The International schools are made up of wealthy African students, and students from all over the World whose parents work in government jobs or NGO’s. Many of the schools are boarding schools which leaves the students with little to do. So having someone come and bring ice cream or play games is lots of fun for them. I really admire our friends who are doing this because for the most part they are completely on their own. There is not a support system and group of people doing the same thing as they are in the same town. It is just this small group. The work is hard but very rewarding.

Kathy Conner, who is from Florida and has worked for Young Life for a long time, came over to do this training for this very small yet amazing group of people. We spent a lot of time just processing how we are balancing our spiritual walks with the rest of life, and time in fellowship. We loved spending time with our friends Zac and Hannah, who do YL in Arusha, Fluffy (aka Alisa), YL Moshi, and Neal and Sarah, YL Dar es Salaam.

It was a great time with wonderful people. On one of the nights we had a BBQ on the beach. We had a delicious surf and turf and played on Bocce ball on the beach. We are very thankful for this great community of friends here in Africa.

Rikka Nne

Last night. Dinner at White Sands Hotel.

For two weeks in February, we had the pleasure of hanging out with “Rikka Nne,” meaning fourth group or class. In the past few years, Young Life Africa has started a training intensive for key leaders in each of the different countries in which Young Life is underway. The leaders came from all over Africa, 11 countries to be exact. (Liberia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, D.R. Congo, Senegal, Tanzania, (and Zanzibar not technically another country) Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Mozambique) Amazing if you ask me!

I have so much to say about this training but don’t really know where to start. Each day they had different people leading them, some from the SALT team and others who came from America, teaching them about the basics of Young Life, but more importantly about creating foundations in Christ so that they can continue to be fruitful in their work.

Zimbabwe native Zebra dress.

A made up Kenyan figure and a Congalese King!

Traditional LIberian dress.

It all began with a welcoming dinner. They all dressed in their native clothing. Some of them beautiful and others quite amusing. They each prepared a small welcome to the Americans who were doing some of the training for them. A wedding band started the parade, this is really just a group of musicians who hop in the back of a white pick up and play all the way down the road. Usually they are used for weddings but they are super fun for any occasion really. We are just waiting for an excuse to get one. : ) Then each group did their performance. Dancing from Zimbabwe, drumming from Liberia, singing from Ethiopia and so much more. We then ate a delicious dinner catered by BBQ village, which in my opinion is some of the best food around in Dar.

Because we work full time and we are not really a part of the training, we were in and out, but thankfully did get to spend time with them. For the rest of the week they continued their training.

Worhsiping YL style!

During the weekend we were able to joint them on the beach for a BBQ and Bonfire which was lots of fun. They are all very passionate about soccer so they competed East Africa versus West Africa. It was a big deal. So much fun. West Africa won. I am impartial.

They were all so incredible. Each country brought so much to the table in life experience and culture. Throughout the two weeks different countries took turns making food for the group.  We joined them on the night D.R. Congo was cooking. The food was different for sure. The spread included Ugali, a rice like substance that people depend on here, mchicha, spinach dish, dried small fish in a peanut sauce (that one was not my favorite), baked bananas served with a nut spread, chicken that was cooked in a delicious sauce of some kind, and a large variety of sweet potatoes.

Ethiopia greeting the Wazungu (foreigners)

On the last night, their was a commissioning ceremony. We went White Sands, a nice hotel right down the road from the Larmey’s house, for dinner. Then we all came home for the ceremony. They had all bonded so much and it was such a joy to be around them. We ended with a final time of worship which was lively and full of energy. It was sad to see them all go but it was so wonderful to be apart of this unique experience.

Pray that Rikka Nne, will be able to go back and be the leaders they have been called by God to be for their countries.

Group Photo

Senior African Leadership Team Comes Again

The first week of February the S.A.L.T. team came back to Dar for training and fellowship. I cannot express in words how amazing these people are! They are all such leaders, and visionaries for their countries and for the young people of Africa. Many of them come from extremely difficult and humble roots, which makes their ministry that much more rich. Austin and I are so grateful to be able to share in their fellowship and learn from their servant hearts.

We Love Them!

Blue Band: The Household Staple

I know that I have mentioned Blue Band before but I just wanted to elaborate a bit on this vital staple used in practically every household in Dar es Salaam and beyond.

It is sold virtually everywhere and is used as the household butter. However, this is NOT BUTTER! It is not even a margarine in my opinion, though it is more a margarine than a butter. It does not need to be refrigerated and even if it is it does not get hard. It has it’s own particular flavor and  if you use it too cook there is no mistaking Butter for Blue Band. It is used to cook everything here!

As much as I stood my ground at first and only used real butter, which costs 10 bucks for a regular size chunk of butter and spoils a day or two after being unfrozen, I too have now begun to use this mystery product. It is just easier and way more economically friendly.

"High in Vitamins and Fats"

After brainstorming ideas for new clubs for WYLD LIFE I came up with Blue Band Club, basically a modified Crisco Club or Spam Club. The team liked it and so we did it! It was INCREDIBLE!

We had Pass the Blue Band, much like Hot Potato, trivia about Blue Band,  watched Videos about Blue Band,  sang about Blue Band and we even had some hair styles made with Blue Band! The leaders had a Blue Band Hat making competition. So fun! I would venture to say it was one of our best clubs yet! I always love that the craziest ideas always become some of the best!  Here are some pics from the occasion.

Check these AMAZING Retro adds for this stuff:

(If they don’t work just search in You Tube for Blue Band Margarine)

Discipleship Camp

In our last few days in Ethiopia we had the privileged of accompanying, the  leaders and kids to the second ever discipleship camp. Their were over 100 kids who came with their leaders to learn how to live their faith out loud!

It was held in a neighboring town about and hour outside of Addis. I loved the location, it was nice and small and exactly the right size for the kids to run around but still feel intimate. It reminded me of some of the retreats I went on in High School with my Youth Group.

There were 4 clubs all together where their was dancing, singing, praising, games, and challenging messages. Although I couldn’t understand a word, except for the few english songs they sang, I could tell the kids were really listening and that what they leaders were saying was making an impact.

After each club, the kids got a chance to talk about what they learned and how to apply it in their everyday life with their leaders and friends. You can tell the leaders have done a great job loving these kids and helping them to be open and go deep.

At every meal we ate injera, the local food that Ethiopians just can’t live without, it is made of tef a local grain grown here and is cooked into a thin round pancake like shape.. It amazed me to see just how much the high school boys could eat of the injera! Many of them admitted that if they did not have injera to eat they would starve. I do not think they were joking either.

During free time they had the chance to play soccer, volleyball, and just chill out. However, most of them love to run around, and have endless amounts of energy. On the last night they played a game that reminded me of crack the whip but only more brutal. Everyone holds hands together in a circle and runs in a circle as fast as they can until someone breaks the circle. Whoever breaks the circle is then surrounded by all of the other players and hits or kicks them. Sounds terrible, I know, but they made it seem like so much fun!

I had an opportunity to hang out with some of the kids as well. We had fun learning bit of Amheric, and they had fun practicing their English with me.    They were great company and extremely welcoming.

We had so much fun watching camp in action and were so blessed by seeing what they Lord is doing in the lives of the kids in Ethiopia.