Our last day in Tanzania began with a visit to the Compassion International country office. Most of the 64 staff members were there to greet us as we entered the gated sanctuary. From the outside, I would have never guessed that there would be such a lovely, serene garden and work area inside.
We began our time together by worshiping through songs on the lawn in the courtyard area. It was amazing to hear the harmonies as we lifted our voices to the Lord. A few of the men in the back had drums that beat out the rhythms of the songs and added to my desire to move with the beat. (Our American group just didn't groove like the Africans!) Most of the songs were sung in English, but we did learn one in Swahilli. It was so beautiful to hear the leader add her praises as we echoed her lead. I could imagine our songs being pleasing to God as they lifted like incense up to heaven.
Afterwards, members of our group shared stories of their experiences from the trip to bless the the local workers. My friend, Jane, (pictured above) shared the impact that the visit to her child's home had on her. She learned that the father of her sponsored child had begged the forgiveness of the local church for the sins of his tribe, who had killed two German missionaries 100 years prior. The event united the churches in the area and continues to be a marker of importance to Christians there.
Later, we were given a tour of the different offices and met the leadership of Compassion Tanzania. What amazing people! They feel that they were called to this mission to children, and although their salaries are not as high as the corporate comparison, they are satisfied knowing that they are able to provide for their families and do the will of God. The reminder of their commitment to the ministry can be found on a rock memorial that they build and laid in the middle of the courtyard. It is their "covenant with God" and drives them to continue to serve with excellence.
My favorite part was seeing the letter writing office. The workers are accomplishing their large task of sorting 7,000 child letters letters and 2,000 sponsor letters a week in a building that is unfinished. Each letter was recorded by a little old lady in the corner. As she went through the stack I asked her, "Do you write down the child/sponsor numbers for every letter?" She smiled and said, "Yes. We must keep track of them for our sponsors." The office employs 70 translators. Each week they pick up a stack of letters to take home and translate. Each translator is audited randomly to check for quality translations.
We finished our visit by enjoying lunch together, and then said our good-byes to this group of heros. They asked us to tell the American sponsors how much they are loved, and wanted to convey their thanks for the sacrifice they are making to support the children of Tanzania.