Thursday, July 26, 2012


This month I have had the opportunity to get an alternative perspective than the rest of the team, which is primarily comprised of individuals who are medically focused. My background is in education, so I was very excited to work with the school children as much as possible. The City of Hope school has over four-hundred students, ranging from ages 4-14. The students have a great advantage because they are taught English the whole way through their education. The public schools in Tanzania don’t teach English until secondary school, so by the time these students enter secondary school they are already able to speak it fluently. But the fact that the students at COH are taught English is only one of many things that sets the school apart. All you have to do is walk a mile down the road to see the vast differences between the COH school and the local public school, which is severely understaffed and lacks the strategic leadership that is present at the COH school. Truly, this school houses the future leaders of Tanzania. During one lesson we got on the topic of future dreams. I loved listening to students yell out (with great excitement) their dreams of being future doctors, pilots, and presidents. How amazing to be in environment where these dreams are cultivated and encouraged like they are here!

In my undergraduate education I opted to focus my teacher training on secondary school, but I think I would have concentrated on primary school if the children in America were more like they are here! In the classes that I have been able to observe and/or teach, I have noticed that the class time is reserved for teaching and learning and not simply managing bad behavior. What a novel idea! The first day that I taught an English class I called on an individual student by name to answer a question on the story we had read. I was caught of guard as the student promptly stood up to answer the question. Ha! I quickly realized this is what the students have been trained to do when they are asked questions directly. I know that’s a random example, but I think it serves to show how well these children are trained and how seriously they take their education. I can’t wait to hear about how these kids will grow up to change the world. I consider myself blessed simply to have been in their presence.

P.S. Many of the students who go to the school are not orphans at the COH compound, but are from the local community. Families have to pay roughly $1/month to be able to send their children to the school. As miniscule as this amount sounds, it is actually quite a stretch (an impossibility, really) for many families to afford. The COH is not in the business of turning students away, however, which is why they have a sponsorship program not only for the orphans who live here, but also for students who are in the community, so that they are also able to receive a great education. If you are feel God leading you to take part in this sponsorship program, please check out COH’s website ( for more info!

Written by Christine

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Florence Nightengales of Africa: From Earthquake to Outbreak

The past three days here in Tanzania have been eventful to say the least.  On Wednesday a team of medical professionals from the US arrived to help host an expanded services clinic at the medical center here. The plan was to hold the clinic from Thursday to Saturday from 9-5 and help with acutemedical needs but also focus on whole person care.

We saw many different cases and got to pray with several people.  There were also brothers and sisters added to the kingdom as a few prayed to receive Christ!  It was a challenging few days as we all learned the culture and how different medical care is here in Africa and it was very rewarding.
We also faced a few unexpected bumps along the way. 

The first day of the clinic one of our team members became sick after lunch.  She left the clinic and went back to City of Hope to rest.  When everyone else arrived home that evening we found that she had gotten much worse. As Stephanie was giving her a shot of Phenergan we felt the building shake! This was alarming and we were all very confused as to what was happening.  I personally thought a tractor hit the building but I suppose it was an earthquake.  That is still up for debate.  As she became worse an IV was started and we gave her some fluids because she was severely dehydrated. Stephanie and I decided to stay up at the mission house with her through the night, but we did not realize by morning we would be running our own ER.

Through the course of the night, almost hour by hour, more people on the team became sick with
similiar symptoms. By morning a total of eleven people had been up most of the night with
vomiting and diarrhea.  Stephanie and I stayed up the entire night running around the mission's
guest house with shots of Phenergan.  By morning buckets were in short supply and the bathrooms had waiting lines.

At the clinic the next day more people had come than the first.  Even though our team was cut nearly in half we also were able to see more of them.  Stephanie and I struggled to make it to lunch and then came back to sleep because we had been up 36+ hours.

Thankfully the whole team is on the mend now.  Many peole feel back to normal and most of us are leaving to go on Safari tomorrow morning.  It was a crazy time but God carriend us through all of it.

Being here has been such a blessing.  We see things that break our hearts but we know we
serve a God who loves the world and is working to bring healing and restoration.
-Written by Brittany

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our lovely people

The internet seems to be decent this evening so I will quickly post some pictures. Enjoy!

This poster basically says "American doctors are coming to the clinic so  please come!" (This week we will be hosting a team of doctors from a church in North Carolina and will offer expanded services at the clinic.)

Chapatis, beloved chapatis!

Sometimes during "class" we have some four-legged guests.

Fetching water for bathing and flushing.

Bath time on our new patio!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Under the Acacia Tree

God has been amazingly faithful. Each person on our team is clearly meant to be here. We have had fruitful times in our seminar, discussing subjects such as “Who is God? Who is Man? What is the Gospel? What does the gospel do to a culture? What has the gospel done to you? What is health? What is poverty? etc.” All of us are learning much, and being taught by the Holy Spirit who resides within the others sitting around the circle. I have been thrilled to witness students genuinely investigate their own beliefs and evaluate if those beliefs are true, where they come from, and if they are consistent with a biblical worldview. Let me help you imagine a typical day.

I personally begin the day before dawn with bible study and exercise. Some of the guys have been joining me for exercise. It is 60 degrees and breezy here at dawn—perfect for outdoor exercise as the sun broaches the horizon while the wind rattles the corn and banana trees. We have a communal breakfast at 730, always porridge, pancakes, or french toast. We eat quite well. At 815 we have a group devotion together, some of the leadership and other guests here at City of Hope often joining us. Devotions consist of a few songs, including one in Kiswahili, and then inductive study in small groups led by the students. We are studying through Genesis and John simultaneously, in each case drawing out truths that help us engage with the questions above. God is clearly revealing Himself to each of us. Devotions are meant to end at 900 but always always go until 1000 because our hearts are so gladdened at the truths we glean.

After that the group goes in separate directions. Some go to the clinic to participate in primary care and help us endeavor to implement care of the whole person: body, soul, and spirit. Others are working in small groups to engage with the community here to discuss, learn about, and begin to engage such issues that are shared interests of the students and the community. We hope to come alongside the community as they begin to engage some of these issues with their own ideas and initiative. Thus far, small groups are working on the following issues: improved sanitation, improved cattle and poultry husbandry, female genital mutilation (a.k.a. female circumcision, a complex and devastating issue), how spiritual practices affect health, and traditional childbirth attendant practices and improved education for them as well as an effective partnership between them and our hospital. We have a wonderful, gifted, and teachable group of students. I foresee great fruit for the kingdom as I imagine them entering into various ministries in their futures, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to invest in them.

A few prayer requests:
  • Pray against forces of spiritual darkness. We have experienced no overt attacks, but recently there have been indicators that this is something we need to attend to.
  • Pray for financial providence for the Hopkins family. There are some questions that require God's direction as we seek discernment and strive to serve him with our lives.
  • Pray for a team of seven doctors and nurses who are traveling here to work with us this week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jambo! Hi from City of Hope everybody!

This is Faith Franklin, serving as the first of many (hopefully) blog updaters. I’m not sure what to include here exactly…. The last 5 days have been pretty dang packed. But I think I’ll just try to paint a bit of a picture of what’s been going on since the journey began and what this place is like.

The plane rides were long. I think I came the farthest, being from Texas, but not too much longer of a flight since I think the first leg was 7 ½ hours even from Virginia (where most of the team is from). A group of us were on the same plane from London to Nairobi, and I found and met them (Clay, Dwayne, Jen, Juliana, Brittney, Lauren, Johnny & Cecilia – sorry if I misspelt anyone’s names!) by miracle after boarding the plane. I sat by a couple of Kenyan girls returning home for a visit after several years and I started getting some Swahili and culture lessons, which was awesome. We arrived in Nairobi and went through the easiest customs experience I’ve ever heard of, all our bags made it, and we hung around waiting for Stephanie to get in from Amsterdam after a rather exciting flight with an emergency stop in Cairo. All was well though, we met up with Nimrod and hopped in some vans and took about an hour’s bumpy dark drive to a lovely guest house where we stayed the night after some tea and mandazi (donuts). 

The next morning I got my first look at Africa. Surprisingly green and lush. Another big bunch of the team was there (the Hopkins, Michael and Christine, Abi, Angie and Rachel) and we ate breakfast and they all hopped on another bus to head for the City of Hope. I, however, was extremely blessed to take a plane with Ty, Joi and their kids Wren and True. Just the five of us and a pilot and an hour or so flight over south-western Kenya. We could see Kibera (a huge slum near Nairobi) and the whole of downtown, and then fields and villages and wildlife and mountains and rivers and glory on and on and on. It was astounding. Wren slept on my arm the whole time (she’s 2, so she wasn’t really tall enough to see anyways). [btw, I just had to take a break to put mosquito spray on in the house. Laptops and deet, y’all.] We touched down just before the Tanzanian border and met up with a van from the City of Hope, bringing out some other guests back to the plane to head back to Nairobi. We then drove to the border, through villages and towns and farmland, where, minus an incident where our tires were chained up for parking in the wrong place. We had to talk down some police with large clubs asking us to pay an exorbitant fine.  We speedily signed out of Kenya and paid for Tanzanian visas. I hope the rest of the team was driving the last stretch before dark, because it is truly beautiful here. The land is fertile and so green and there are mountains and bananas and animals everywhere. No elephants yet, but lots of goats and chickens and cows.

City of Hope is in the middle of the village Ntgatcha, which I’ve been told is populated by around 3.000 people . I’ll try to describe it as well as I can, because I knew pretty much nothing about what to expect when I left so I wasn’t able to give much info. It is a compound type thing that has a gate but a huge sign that reads “Karibu!” meaning welcome. And it is the epitome of karibu. The property encompasses quite a number of buildings: a guest house where our team eats in a big rotunda with a fireplace in the middle, which has a lot of rooms and several bathrooms (I am in the guest house now); the childrens home, where they orphans  eat and sleep and used to have class before the new building was put into action today as the new term began, and where 8 of us girls and 5 of the guys are staying; the new building, where the kids will have school and where we had church on Sunday, the Chacha’s house, the chai house (kind of a huge pavilion), and various other things. The property also has huge gardens and farmland full of maize, sukuma, huge avocados, bananas, and who knows what else. They grow all their own food here. The kids are getting an excellent education, vocational training in farming, sewing, business (they sell chai at the chai house) and other things, and most of all, a thorough foundation in Scripture.

So, what is City of Hope exactly? Well, I thought it was mainly a hospital and a school. It turns out, the hospital is in another part of the village about a ten or fifteen minute walk away, and the City of Hope is actually mainly the children’s home. There are about a hundred kids that actually live here, most of whom are orphans. There’s several hundred kids that come in to go to the school, because it’s one of the best schools in the country. And, there’s some kids that board here because the school is so good that wealthy people in other cities send their kids here. This place was started by Dr. John Chacha, who has traveled and preached and written many books in his time, and was actually born here in Ntgatcha. I’ve heard and seen a lot of very wonderful things about him…but the main thing is that on Wednesday and Friday nights, he DJs an out of control dance party for the kids with African gospel music. And so far, it has been not just Friday night, but also Saturday night, and the epic culmination last night with an all out dance off between the guys and girls. I’ve never even imagined such dancing. College parties seem extremely dull at this point. Hopefully we’ll all bring back some of the sick moves they’ve been teaching us. Seriously…I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much fun in one place.

The weather is amazing. The food has been delightful (ugali and sukuma tonight and chai after dinner). Everyone says “Karibu!” all the time, and they really mean it. Such warmth and service and joy. The singing and dancing are totally astounding. It’s a bit dusty, the solar power gives us some lights at night, the internet connection sucks, cold bucket showers are totally refreshing, mosquito nets are totally effective, you don’t really need sweets, and I’m loving that I don’t even have a watch and I never know what time it is except at meals. Africans love people so much more than schedules. There is a “mountain” about a mile away that about 60 of the kids took a bunch of us to yesterday, and the view was breathtaking. They climbed trees and picked tons of these tiny orange fruits for us. They’ve been giving us all Swahili lessons, writing us notes, and slowly starting to let us in. For me, that’s been an unexpected adventure J  The team here for the seminar is so awesome. I’m amazed by the depth of character and wisdom in each of them, and am feeling blessed down to my soul to get to talk with them all the time about everything under the sun, sing with them, and pray with them.  Most of them are second year med students, a few are nurses or in nursing school. There’s three guys from Kenya (Daniel, Benjamin and Joram) that joined us, which is a massive blessing since they not only speak Swahili, but they are doing ministry like this as well in another village and have a lot of insight on the culture. The Chachas, interns, and other various brothers and sisters around here have also been very wonderful.

I hung around at the hospital for a bit today and sat in on Ben and Denis (the nurse practitioners from somewhere near here that run it) treating a ten month old baby so malnourished that edema was about to rupture the skin in 4 or 5 places on his little body. His mother left in May and his grandmother said he’d barely been eating the porridge she’d been trying to feed him, and so she had apparently been to a shaman  that punctured the sore on his foot, tearing open most of the skin. He was in so much pain, and you could see every bone in his body. It was like something out of National Geographic, with the flies swarming and everything. Suddenly things we’ve all been talking about are no longer theoretical issues, but very close and real. We are divided into groups that will be picking and tackling problems in the community over the month, like trying to understand birthing practices, HIV, infant mortality, and who knows. That will be the practical time each day, as well as each group getting to spend a day at the hospital.

We took the weekend to recoup, and today we broke into what should be an African-style of normal for the rest of the time here. Devotions, breakfast, practical time, lunch, discussion under the Tree, break, dinner, chillax. Today during practical time we went down to the hospital and got a tour and a very thought provoking discussion about how health care is being practiced here and how it is working…talks like these will be many more in coming, and so far the questions brought up have been many and exciting and scary and altogether very much taking us all to the Lord. The culture is so incredibly different here. Honestly…. I have already realized that my faith is very much too small. This place has mostly made me feel small and foolish and helpless. It seems almost impossible to make a difference, and impossible to know how to tell the difference between the Lord’s desires for people in areas like this, so undeveloped and full of pain and malnutrition and illness and seeming darkness, and our own desires and thoughts. But we are all planning to spend a lot of time at His feet over the next month, and we’re trusting Him to teach us. He is so good! And so very big. I love you guys, na ku penda. Thank you for the prayers, more than I can say. Lala salama!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

“What is New?”

A bit of background: We arrived safely last night after an uncharacteristically unburdensome trans-Atlantic journey. Twenty American students, three Kenyans, and three Tanzanians are currently gathering for a 4-8 week seminar entitled “Foundations in Health and Development.” I am not 100% sure of what God is up to... but I am confident that it is good.

Africa, you make my pen flow. This morning I rose very late for me (9AM local time, but 2AM at home) and was greeted at the front door by wondrously familiar sensations: the aroma of woodsmoke and African flowers (bougainvillaeas, I think), and a near cacophony of tropical birds. I sat down to think. The pen flowed.

A letter to the students:

If you will let Him, God will use Africa to give you new eyes. It is not a special power of Africa that allows this. It is just that Africa is so different from what we are used to. Let me challenge you to see and hear God newly. Let us study scripture together (I believe we are being led to John and Genesis) and see them again for the first time. Ask God: Who are you? Who am I?

Your assignment is to take things in. Keep a list of issues God brings to light. What questions do you have? What ought we to be asking? What is the proper response to what God is putting in front of us?

Usually our great strengths are at the same time our great weaknesses. One of our strengths in the American church is our education. Most Christians have many Bibles. Most us can quote Lewis or Augustine, Luther or Chesterton. We have Bible software, copious choices at Sunday school, readily available online seminary degrees, and little to no persecution when we choose to indulge in these good things. In terms of resources, we might metaphorically be called obese.

But can we see things with a fresh eye? Have we been so steeped in our resource rich church culture that we do not readily recognize and engage with the daily fresh fruit He provides for us? Do we have so much that hardly anything can make an impression?

God promises to “make all things new.” He tells us that His mercies are “new every morning.” How do we lay hold of that?

Any time we learn anything, it is “new” to us. Are we ready for new?

The essence of cynicism is to say, “I know better than that.” In other words, we say, “there is nothing new.” This is often the observation of Solomon in Ecclesiastes. And he is not incorrect. In one sense there is “nothing new under the sun.” But there are many things that are new to us as individuals—to you. What does He want to show you that is new to you? You come here to learn. The beginning of that process is to ask God what He wants to show you.

So I challenge you as we get started to take things in. Think. Pray. Write. Consider before speaking and acting. Seek God. He is of course the source of the questions and answers. What is He urging you to ask?

A start: What, really, is the Gospel? How do we respond to Him? What is a right response to Africa? To the challenges in Africa? What issues come to mind as we observe and engage here? What is the essential issue at the core of these issues? How are relationships involved? What does the Bible teach about these issues? Can we read John and Genesis while separating our assumptions about what the texts say from what God is saying to us in them right now—as alien Africa grants us fresh insight?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Greetings from Ntagatcha!

With the exception of some students coming in a few weeks, we are all here at City of Hope, safe and sound! Every bag of luggage arrived with us, which is nothing short of a miracle in and of itself. Everyone is tired, tired, tired. Hopefully we can write more later.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Safe Arrival in Nairobi

Joi, Ty, True, Wren, Rachel, Abi, Angie, Christine, Michael, Joram, Daniel and Ben have arrived safely in Nairobi and we are enjoying chai at the guest house.  The last phase of the team will be arriving landing at the international airport within the hour (it's 8PM here).  Everyone is safe and well.  No problems at all.

There are twenty six of us counting three Kenyans and three Tanzanians!

Please pray that the rest of the group arrives safely tonight and that we have safe travel to Tanzania tomorrow.

More later.