I was 29 weeks along when the pregnancy pictures were taken below (now I am 32 weeks). Lots of thanks to Lauren, our team photographer, who took these pictures. God has really blessed my pregnancy, and I am so thankful for having been so healthy with no complications this entire time. The peaceful pregnancy I have had has made it much easier to get adjusted to life here and to continue language learning at a normal rate. God is so faithful and merciful! We continue to pray for the health and vitality of our baby, including his or her (most likely HER!) spiritual vitality in the future as he or she grows. Please keep us in your prayers, too. We leave Mtwara at the end of October in order to fly to South Africa where we will await the arrival of our little one.
In other news, I have also posted some pictures taken during a break time of our biannual team strategy meeting. In this meeting, we presented research to each other over different subjects such as: NGO (non-government organization) presence in the area, religious situation of the area, a proposed emergency evacuation plan, water situation in the villages, tourism and travel, etc. We made some decisions regarding how to proceed in the next year and did some vision crafting for the next 5 years as well. The meeting lasted three days, and in the evenings we would swim and eat dinner out. We also had a campfire made complete with s’mores, around which many of us sat and talked late into the night. Some of the other pictures included are from Sarah’s birthday which we celebrated last Saturday by chartering a local fisherman’s boat (ahem, yacht) to go snorkeling in the reefs around Mtwara. Fun was had by all, but I think the most fun was had by the little girls who found a perfect spot to splash in the shallow waters of a sandbar as the Dads looked on.
As one year comes to a close for us, we want to acknowledge all the ways that God has provided for us as we journeyed to Tanzania and as we have made it our home. On Sunday night we sang the song, “Blessed be the Lord who would not give us up, blessed be the Lord for his unfailing love,” and then the line, “The snare is broken and we have escaped…” I smiled as I sang this, remembering all the times in the last year when we barely scraped by in some way or another (including some near-death experiences on Tanzanian public transportation), as if barely escaping from a trap because God delivered us. Also on Sunday, we read Exodus 17:1-7, where the Israelites sinned against God for asking, “Is the Lord among us or not?” As this first year in Tanzania closes, we want to affirm to all those watching that the same question that the Israelites asked at Horeb is not in our mouths. Instead, we have witnessed that God has undoubtedly been among us, providing an abundance of water from the rock in the midst of the wilderness. You may say, “Well, where did you see God, and when, and how can you prove it?” Maybe there is some answer to these questions in Exodus 17 when God tells Moses, “I, myself will stand there on the rock, and you hit it.” The way of the surprising God, “I Am,” is to stand unseen over the right rock and lets us strike. As our thirst is slated and our stomachs slosh full, let us remember that it was not we who caused the water to flow, but Him.