Magomeni Visitors to Zion in 2013

Prayers were answered at Zion Lutheran

There is quite a story that leads up to the event that I am going to share.  However, to make a long story short, an invitation was sent to Magomeni Lutheran Church in Tanzania to visit Zion Lutheran Church.  They informed us last summer 2013 that they indeed would like to come.  Such excitement began to brew at Zion in anticipation of their arrival.  Meetings and planning were ongoing until their arrival.

On September 18th, six people left Dar es Salaam on September 18th and arrived here on the 19th.   One other Magomeni Lutheran Church Member left Dar es Salaam on September 19th and arrived here on the 20th  so we had a total of 7 visitors.   They were with us until September 29th, 2013.

Standing: Mr. Angaufoon Nyka, Pastor Dave Hueter, Dr. David Mwenesano, Pastor Henry Mwinuka, Ms. Linda Levin and Mrs. Elizabeth Mboya
Kneeling: Mrs. Sandy Hueter, Mr. Edson Mwakatobe, Mr. George Mwaikambo, and Mrs. Tabu Mkwawa

How do you begin to share the two week memories and experiences that we had with our companion church members?  We can’t… but we will share some of the “facts and figures” with you.  The story sharing, memories and connections will continue forever through the people whose hearts were touched by the companion church experience.
Prior to their arrival we planned a schedule that included a variety of activities that we thought they would deem worthwhile.  After all they were taking two weeks out of their busy lives and traveling half way around the world to come and see us.
We began the visit with an in-service, pasty dinner and walk on the boardwalk and to the Manistique lighthouse.  It was a great time for all of us to start to get to know one another.  In no time at all we felt very much at home with each other.  They were and are very special people!

In Service

PASTIE DINNER

TABU MKWAWA, PASTOR ELLY RUSSEY AND JIM RUSSEY (Pastor Elly Russey gave the sermon and children’s sermon on the second Sunday while our guests were here.)

We showed our guests many of our beautiful sights in and around Manistique as well as in Escanaba, Munising, Newberry and Marquette.  We took them to several businesses and industry that we thought were important for them to see.  When we knew what their professions or areas of interest were, we arranged a site visit to those places also.

A visit to the Oswald Bear Farm

Tahquamenon Falls

Our Magomeni Visitors At The Tahquamenon “Look Out” Area

USA and Tanzanian flag flying together

Waste Water Treatment Plant Tour

While in Marquette we were hosted by Bishop Skrenes, Assistant to the Bishop Katherine Finnegan and the staff at the Northern Great Lakes Synod and also by Lynn and Carl Hammerstrom at their home on Lake Superior.  When we made a trip to Munising, the Congregation at Eden Lutheran Church hosted us. We are very thankful for the special hospitality from the folks at both of these places.

Because our guests wanted to bring home gifts from the United States, we “booked in” some shopping time too.   During their stay here, our guests also were on TV Channel 6 of Marquette and WTIQ radio station in Manistique.

During their visit, host families provided housing, some meals and social activities for our guests.  They stayed with one host family for half of the time and then switched to stay with a different host for the last half of their stay.  We felt that it was important for them to experience the lifestyles of two different households.  The host family experiences were wonderful for both the hosts and the visitors.

Edson Mwakatobe, Wayne Fleck And Angaufoon Nyka

Tanzanian Guests At Bonnie And Ken Groh’s

Mary Ellen Debelak, Linda Levin And Dr. David Mwenesano

Shirley Leitgeb and George Mwaikambo

Elizabeth Mboya, Karen Klaus And Tabu Mkwawa

A Stop To Visit Bethany Lutheran Church In Isabella Pastor Hueter’s Second Parish

Our guests were able to worship and participate in our church services on two consecutive Sundays.  They were greeters with us on both Sundays and Pastor Mwinuka preached on the first Sunday.  They explained that they are in the process of building a much needed church as they have outgrown the old one.  Their congregation is growing in leaps and bounds!  They sang Swahili songs praising God and shared gifts with us.

Gift Giving

Tanzanian Visitors Beautifully Singing Their National Anthem

The first Sunday we had a luncheon after the service and on the second Sunday after worship we showed them what our traditional “potlucks” are like.

We enjoyed a visit from four of the Synod Companion Church Committee Members while our guests were here.  It was very nice to see Jean Hanneman, Ann Christiansen and Mary Lou and Dave Blomquist.

We had many people in our congregation and community who volunteered in many ways to make this visit a wonderful experience.  We could not have accomplished this without their help!

We continue to stay in touch with our new Friends and they have invited us to come back to see them.  We pray to do that some day in the future.

The visit definitely strengthened the bond between Magomeni Lutheran Church and Zion Lutheran Church.  Now it is our responsibility with the help of God to keep it going.  We have learned so much from each other!   It was wonderful to see that they not only worship the Lord on Sunday morning but it is in everything they say and do daily.  We praise and thank God for giving us this wonderful experience.

In closing I would like to leave you with some words received recently from one of the seven visitors.  He asked us to pass his regards on to us (Zion) and our Community.  He said, “I wish to thank you for the precious moments we had with you in your blessed land.  Certainly it was an experience of a life time which will keep lingering in our minds for years to come.  Three months have elapsed already but it seems as if it was just yesterday when you were taking us to various wonderful places.  We all look forward to seeing you in any day and time that OUR Lord will arrange for us.”

And to this we say AMEN and BWANA ASIFIWE!

Respectfully submitted by Bonnie Groh
On behalf of the Tanzanian Companion Church Committee
Zion Lutheran Church

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