July 29, 2016
FELM work among
the Massai community in Tanzania
In Northern Tanzania difficulties relating to education, health and faith impact on the local people's well-being and future. But with Gods help all barriers can be overcome as said in the Bible: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11.
A Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilot Jarkko Korhonen regularly takes missionaries and medical teams to vulnerable people in hard-to-reach areas in Jesus name. In October a special guest accompanied him. It was Finnish Pastor Katri Kuusikallio from the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM).
On their first trip to remote Malambo village in the North West of Arusha Katri and Jarkko were accompanied by a Swedish missionary Päivi Karlsson who is a trained nurse. After an hours flight Jarkko carefully landed the plane on the sand strip.
FELM missionaries Yrjö and Aino Rossi started MAF work in Tanzania over 30 years ago. And Malambo villagers have shown courtesy by building a modest hut for the pilots with a bed, toilet and shower.
When they reached Malambo they picked up Maasai evangelists Elisha Olemoitan and Elisabeth Robert. They then took off in the direction of Pinyinyin, which is a mere twenty minute flight. However, on foot this journey could take two days. What a blessing this plane is!
Mosquito nets for 1,000/- (45 US cents)
In Pinyinyin village Päivi taught the people about malaria prevention and sold mosquito nets for Sh. 1,000/- each (45 US cents). All 40 nets were sold out immediately. It is better to charge a certain amount of money than giving out the nets for free, because people are more committed to use them for the right purpose. Free nets are often used for other purposes, such as fishing or protecting chickens, Jarkko explained.
A strange disease
Villagers told the group about an unusual kind of malaria affecting 20 - 40 year old men and often resulting in death. Päivi provided medical service to these men and found out that the men affected by this strange kind of malaria have worked as watchmen in Nairobi or Arusha. The symptoms resembled those associated with HIV or AIDS. The head of the village completely denied the existence of HIV and AIDS. However, Päivi explained that the villagers need further examinations later on for a more precise diagnosis.
The village leader, Pentecostal pastor Joshua Pombo told them about the challenges in the village. There is no medical service and the mobile phones do not work. Booking an ambulance in medical emergencies could cost Sh. 200,000/- (£ 65) - an amount nobody can afford here.
Additional threats include diseases caused by contaminated water the villagers fetch from the ditches as there are no water pumps. The educational level in the school is also very low and teachers usually do not stay in the village for long.
Hopes for the Future
Whilst challenges continue to persist, Joshua Pombo explained that the MAF flights have been a great help to the people. Gods word has brought about a continuing state of peace and the MAF planes have played a major part in bringing the Gospel to the villagers. He pointed out that there are other villages even further away from Pinyinyin, which need help urgently.
Life before Jesus
After the group enjoyed a meal given by the villagers, evangelist Elisabeth Robert gave her testimony. She compared her own life before and after coming to know Jesus. She used to believe in many gods living in mountains or in thunder and she believed in sacred trees. Today she exclaims: We believe in one, triune God. God came to the world as a man. Jesus is our savior and the Holy Spirit our guide. Jesus built a bridge between God and man so we can pray to God directly.
Other villagers have also accepted Christ as their savior. Whilst promiscuity used to be common, Elisabeth says that the Maasae now want to share their lives with one partner in faithful matrimony. However, converting to Christianity is still a difficult process and can result in conflicts. Some born again Christians are a target of violence and sometimes face rejection within the community.
Despite these challenges, Elisabeth is not afraid of the dangers of being a Christian, as she trusts in the help of the Holy Spirit. She explained that ever since she became a Christian her relationship with her husband has improved.
Education brings responsibility
From Pinyinyin the group took the evangelists back to Malambo. They were invited to Elisha Olemoin´s house. Elisha explained how Christianity has impacted on the peoples education. Previously, there were only a few children in the school. Now there are hundreds of children and the sizes of the classes are large. One teacher can have up to 200 students. Elisha herself is teaching religious education at nearby schools.
There is also a Bible school run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) at Malambo where villagers can study Church history, the Old and New Testament, the basics of agriculture and participate in activities to assist the elderly. Studies start with a discipleship course and students practice in the parishes and teach in the villages.
There is hope that an increase in the educational level will eventually enable the local people fulfill Gods plans for them and shape their own future. A lot of good work has been done here for a long time. That is why it is time for the local people to take on more responsibility, explained Jarkko Korhonen.
When the pilot landed the plane safely at Arusha airport the group thanked God for a successful trip and the important work Jarkko is doing in Jesus name.
(Pastor. Katri Kuusikallio is ELCT Coordinator of Christian Education and Communication Officer of FELM).
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