I grew up in a Christian home and went to the church my Grandfather pastored.
At the age of four, I started asking questions about what I was being taught in Sunday school.
My mother explained the Gospel to me and I asked Jesus into my heart on December 16th, 1999. I continued going to church and attended youth conferences and Pastor’s School at First Baptist Church of Hammond Indiana. At Pastor’s School 2009, Dr. David Gibbs preached on surrendering to Gods will regardless of where in the world and God spoke to my heart. After the service i went back to my hotel room and promised God i would give Him complete control over my life and would go wherever He showed me. The following year I attended the Our Time Youth conference at Marion Ave. Baptist Church in Washington Iowa. The church had a guest speaker named Jerry Wyatt the 3rd from Tanzania, Africa. During the message God spoke to my heart again and said, “there is where I want you to go and that’s who I want you to serve with”. Immediately after the message I talked to Bro. Wyatt what God laid upon my heart and we have continued towards that goal ever since.
My training for the mission field brought me to Hyles-Anderson College where I graduated from in 2016 and met my wife Kellie. After out wedding we took a survey trip to Tanzania and returned will even more excitement of what God will do with our life on the mission field.
Happy 2023! November was a slower month since most of our time was devoted to our Swahili lessons. We did have a simple Thanksgiving, and we invited a family over to celebrate with us.
December was extra busy! I wrote and directed a Christmas play for our English Sunday School Department. We hosted the event on a Sunday evening and invited the parents, friends, and other English speakers to our program. We had a great turnout, but we were definitely not fully prepared to host that many people. We bought presents for 100 kids and passed out 97 of them! We did not buy enough paper plates, we ran out of soda, and Kellie had to fit kids for costumes who didn’t show up for the dress rehearsal. Mrs. Wyatt makes running the program seem so easy! Even with those small setbacks, the play was a success, and the Gospel message was presented.
We hosted a Christmas party for the church staff. We had chicken and French fries catered in. The staff loved the meal! We bought presents for every family. Kellie made a “Pin-the-Beard-on-Santa” game. Tanzanians have a hard time understanding the concept of games because they don’t typically play them as children. The simpler the game is, the better, even for adults! The game was a huge hit and was even used for the annual Christmas Ladies’ Meeting. After the staff party, Kellie and I hosted a small movie night with the English Sunday school kids. We provided popcorn and hot chocolate. The kids really seemed to enjoy the activity.
The annual Christmas Ladies’ Meeting was well attended, with over 200 ladies present! A staff wife gave the lesson, food and gifts were passed out, and the Gospel was given in their language.
My father flew in from Iowa to be with us for Christmas. We thoroughly enjoyed having him here with us. We had two abbreviated church services on Christmas Day. We served those in attendance a special meal. One of our staff men volunteered to dress up as Santa and deliver bags of candy to the Tanzanian children. Can you imagine being in a full Santa costume outside in 90-degree weather?! Yohana was a good sport about it, and the Tanzanian kids loved seeing Santa! For many, this was their first time to see a man dressed up as Santa.
After the services on Christmas, we went home to eat lunch and open presents before Landon’s nap. Kellie still had to prepare a few dishes and needed the oven on. Well, our gas oven only works on generator power, so I turned the generator on for Kellie to use. We decided to keep it on since our A/C units work best on generator power. Our voltage is not usually 220 volts even though it’s supposed to be; it’s usually 180, and that causes our appliances not to work as well as they can. Kellie and Landon went to take their nap, and during that time, it was pouring down rain outside. Our gutter was getting clogged, so I
went outside to unclog it. I had to walk outside of our gate to do so. Unbeknownst to me, I did not grab the correct key, and the gate door locked behind me. I also did not have my cell phone. So there I was, standing outside in the rain, pounding on our gate, and trying to get Kellie’s or my dad’s attention to come let me back in. They could not hear me over the sound of the rain, the generator, and the A/C unit. I stood outside for 45 minutes before they noticed. That’s a Christmas memory I won’t soon forget.
The holidays definitely feel different without family traditions. There’s no getting together with your best friends, no exchanging gifts with those you love the most. What is the same, no matter where you are or who you are with, is the reason for Christmas. As Christians, that is one thing that will never change—Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
This year has been full of adjustments for us as a family and as staff members at Faith Baptist Church. The church saw 1,962 salvations this year! We averaged over 600 on Sundays. God is growing His church here in Morogoro, Tanzania, and we are glad that you get to be a part of it!