Tuesday, February 18, 2014

7 months in

We've officially lived in Tanzania for 7 months. Thought I would celebrate the occasion with a few lists of '7' for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

1. The amazing community we have through HOPAC and God's Tribe
2. Living so close to the ocean
3. Learning a new culture and language
4. Marc and I being able to work & minister together
5. A simpler life and pace of life
6. Fresh, non processed foods, delicious fruit/veg in season
7. Diversity within our community

1. The heat
2. Cooking truly from scratch - it takes so much time and energy!
3. Learning a new culture and language
4. Bugs - in the house, in the food, on the dogs, on my kids...
5. Traffic
6. Not knowing how to respond to the poverty & injustice around us
7. Not having family nearby to watch the kids! 

1. Convienence foods/snacks
2. Carpet
3. The amazing family & community we left behind
4. Fall
5. Target/Meijer/D&W (espeically ones with a Starbucks inside!)
6. Andrea's pizza
7. Getting a paycheck & not depending on others generousity for your livelihood

1. Snow
2. TV
3. Pressure to be trendy/keep up with the Jones'
4. Working. I still love being a part of ministry, but enjoy not having any obligations!
5. Hosting international students. It was good while it lasted, but great to be just our family for now.
6. Snow. Did I mention that already?
7. Marc working an hour away!

1. We are meant to be here.
2. I need to learn how to slow down and wait more.
3. God is working on my pride. It's not fun.
4. My kids are more flexible and insightful than I realized.
5. Language learning is both an amazing joy and huge frustation at the same time.
6. Greetings are VERY important here! My kids are learning to respect their elders much more.
7. Most things are just as expensive here, if not MORE expensive.

1. Something happening to someone I love back home & not being there right away.
2. Being hit or hitting someone/something while driving
3. Not raising enough money for us to continue ministering here
4. Our supporters not seeing the 'fuit' of their giving through our lives and ministry here.
5. The long-term outcome of our kids growing up in a 3rd culture - will they resent us? not fit in whenever we move back?
6. Something happening to one of us & not haivng proper medical care close enough
7. Changing so much that relationships back home are no longer the same

1. How long will God call us here? 5 years? 10 years? 15? More? Less?
2. How long until I can converse in Swahili?
3. Who will visit us while we're living here?
4. How can God use us in our supporting churches? What does that look like?
5. Will we adopt?
6. What is God's big picture of us being here? Where do I fit in that?
7. Will my kids be fluent in Swahili one day?

1. For language learning
2. For support raising - we have about $14,000 more to go before we're fully funded this year!
3. Marc's role as a Bible teacher and leader in our church
4. My role as worship leader at our church - it's VERY stretching!
5. Ability to say NO, even to good things, when they aren't what God is asking of us at the time.
6. The kids health
7. Safety and protection against the schemes of the enemy

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Visiting "Temple Street"

This past week our dear friend, Kelly Buist, was here to visit us and see our work and ministry here in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Marc took Tuesday off so we could make the traffic-heavy trek into the city center. Our destination of "Temple Street", or Kisutu street, is lined on both sides with Hindu Temples. We were able to visit three of those temples last Tuesday.

Somberly we entered the first, removed our shoes and wandered up a short staircase in the almost empty space. As we moved from shrine to shrine, several people entered the temple and approached the different gods to pray. Trying to stifle the sobs I felt rising up in me, I had to look away from watching real and beautiful people pray to very fake and empty gods.

"You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything...You shall not bow down to them or worship them;" Exodus 20:1-5

As followers of Jesus, we are also "prone to wander" and "prone to leave the God I love" as the great hymn, "Come Thou Fount," recalls. We are all idol worshippers. We might not kneel in prayer to our gods but we certainly do in our hearts.

If we claim Christ as our Lord and Savior, we know that HE is the source of all life and salvation, not these other gods. This is the reason we are here: to share the gospel with those who do not know it. We long for people to know
the promise of forgiveness, the hope of salvation and the assurance of our ultimate standing before God. 

Jesus answered, I 'am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" John 14:6

Visiting these temples was a cultural experience, to be sure, but it was also a personal one. Marc and I both have Hindu students in our classes who attend the various temples on temple street. We also both have students who have converted to Christianity, but still go to temple with their families and are struggling to live with the tension that creates.

Will you join us in praying for these students? Will you pray for us to be bold in speaking the truth yet sensitive to the complexity of each students situation? If you feel called to intercede on behalf of our students, will you send us a message and let us know? We would love to give you a specific student to pray for and also know who is praying for them throughout the remainder of this year.

Please send an email to: thedriesengafamily@gmail.com

Thank you for partnering with us in this important, kingdom-building work!

Marc & Gretchen
Gifts left for one of the gods
We met this young man in a temple. He asked if we would take pictures with him and his mom. He told us to come to temple every day to pray. Have to admire his boldness in evangelism!
She asked us to pray to the god for the picture. I said, "no, we'll just stand here, thanks." She insisted again. I insisted again as well. She still took a picture with us even though we wouldn't pray to the god.