calendar March 9, 2011 in Global Vision

A Journey of Service in Tanzania

Almost 3 years ago, a group from St. John Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, traveled to Tanzania.  Susan and I were blessed to be part of that group.  As we prepared to go, our church family financially supported us through fundraising, encouraged us, and most of all prayed for us.  We never thought it would have such a major impact on our lives.

Over the years, I always tried to have a plan for our lives.  I thought we were in control.  We were planning our savings, planning where we would live, and planning for our retirement.  The trip to Tanzania changed our lives forever. When we were visiting our brothers and sister in Tanzania, we felt so drawn to be a part of ministry there.  Each and every experience was truly a gift from God.  We both felt that this was the place where we should be.  After we came home, we met with our pastor, Pastor Lee Miller, and asked for his guidance and direction in pursuing the thought of us serving in Tanzania if there was a need.

After two years of working together with our Synod and the North Eastern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, we have received an invitation to come and serve at the Irente Children’s Home, just outside of Lushoto where the diocesan headquarters is located.  This is a home for children from newborn through two years old, one of the social ministry institutions of the diocese.

Susan and I have some experience working with children, besides our four children and seven grandchildren.  For over ten years, I volunteered at Cooper Hospital in Camden, working in the Neo-Natal ICU.  During that time we both also volunteered at Dooley House, a home for medically fragile children in Camden.  At both locations, often the best medicine was just to hold them. 

During the past year, Susan received certification to teach English as a Second Language.  This will be very valuable, as she has been asked to teach this along with basic accounting to the young women who work at the home.

In January, we traveled to the churchwide offices in  Chicago to meet with Global Mission staff  for an interview.  What a wonderful experience it was!  We have been approved to fill the positions in Tanzania through a shared personnel placement by the synod and ELCA Global Mission.  How blessed we are!  With the support of the ELCA, the Southeastern PA Synod, and St  John’s, we should be leaving sometime this fall for a two year commitment. 

As volunteer mission personnel (missionaries) we will not receive a salary or stipend.  A house will be provided but we will need to raise monies needed for service-related expenses, some of which are transportation, food, utilities and other living expenses. Working through our Synod, we hope to raise the funds needed through gifts donated by individuals, groups and congregations throughout the Synod.

Our journey there is not to teach or preach, but to walk “shoulder to shoulder” with our brothers and sisters in Tanzania, and to grow together.  We ask for your continued support, guidance and prayers. 

We are grateful to our pastors, Pastor Lee Miller and Pastor Patricia Neale, and their families for their guidance and support over the last two years. Our thanks also go out to the ELCA Global Mission Unit, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, and to Bishop Burkat and Joanne Carlson, Assistant to the Bishop.

God has a plan for each one of us.

God is in control for each of us

God loves us each and every day.

May God bless you,

Tom MacPherson