Sunday, June 29, 2014

I wrote a song.

Psalm 73:28
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.
The title of this post is actually a bit misleading. I didn't actually write a song - God did. I'm writing this post to tell of the deeds of the Sovereign Lord and to glorify His name.
World, meet Brittany. A former youth group student, turned youth group leader, turned friend. I had the honor of singing in Brittany and TJ's wedding almost six years ago. In the last several years, Brittany has shared her life and faith on her blog:
After the birth of her beautiful baby boy, Brittany and her husband experienced the loss of their two little girls. She shares their stories on her blog: and Have tissues nearby. You've been warned.
Throughout Brittany's pregnancy with Jubilee, God really laid this family on my heart and I prayed like I haven't prayed before. After the loss of Jubilee, I continued to pray and pray and pray. God has given this amazing family the gift of faith, that much is sure. I have been blessed, challenged and encouraged watching them live our their lives of faith, even in the face of such tradgic loss.
Psalm 100 became a Scripture that Brittnay and TJ clung to during this - they were shouting for joy to the Lord through it all - the pain, the loss, the wondering, the questions, the grief, the prayers. They never stopped worshipping the Lord or questioning his goodness or his enduring love.

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.
The Song

This past May 2 was the two year anniversary of little Jubilee's arrival and departure of this earthly world. On her blog and facebook, Brittany asked people to share what they were "Shouting for Joy" for that day and to simply share what was filling our hearts with gratitude to God.
I sat down and didn't know what to share at first. I decided to read through Psalm 100, and immediately the song "I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart" came into my head. I actually thought how sad I was that, while it's a fine song, it didn't at all seem fitting for remembering Jubilee and the goodness of God through the whole situation.
My guitar was sitting next to me, as I had recently finished practicing for worship on Sunday. 
I picked it up and a song began to form. I've never written a song before, so I was a bit shocked that it came together so easily, but I attribute that to the fact that it was truly written by the Lord.
God wrote the words Himself and the Holy Spirit inspired the music. I was able to share the song with Brittany & TJ on May 2, as I felt it was a song God gave to me, but was meant for them.


Jubilee {Psalm 100}

written May 2, 2014
Intro: C G C G
Verse 1:
C2                     G
Shout for Joy, to the Lord
C2                   G
all the earth, worship Him
C2                      G
Come before Him with joy
C2                         D
Know that He is God

                          G                  D
And we sing, Halleluiah! Jubilee!
C2                        D
We adore you, Trinity!
G                                D
You have saved us, by your grace
C                      D                                          C  G  C  G         
Now we enter, your courts with praise

Verse 2:
C2                                 G
You have made us, We are yours
C2                              G
You the shepherd, we your sheep
C2                           G  
We kneel down, before your throne
C2                          D
to  worship you, JESUS
G                                 C2                           D
Lord you're good, Lord you're good, Lord you're good
 your love endures forever (x2)
G                       C2                              D
Faithful God, you're faithful God, you're faithful God
To every generation (x2)

I recorded this a few hours after it was written - not the best 'performance', but you'll get the idea. Take a listen - and if you like it, GLORY BE TO GOD because He wrote it. If you don't like it, well, God wrote it. :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

UPDATE - MOVE update!

UPDATE (Saturday, June 28) -

LESS than 24 hours after this original post, we have finances for EVERYTHING ON OUR LIST!!!

PRAISE BE TO GOD! We are completely in awe of how the Lord has provided. We got a few emails yesterday sharing of donations that friends have made, with the final email right before going to bed which covered the rest of our list.

Friends, I couldn't sleep last night, I was so giddy with excitement over God's provision.

The song that kept coming to mind as I laid in bed was,   "Sing Your Praise To The Lord" by Rich Mullins.

I'm singing praise to the Lord today for his goodness, his provision, his faithfulness and his love and for showing all of that through you. We would not be here without you all!

We are still in need of people willing to join us by giving a special gift or to partner with us through monthly giving throughout the 2014- 2015 year, so if you felt inclinded to give and didn't get around to it for our household needs, we still need you! Please follow the instructions below.

Thank you!!!




In our most recent prayer letter sent last week, we shared our list of current needs and have been SO BLESSED by your response!

Yes, there are things we are still in need of (see below), but we are blown away by the generosity of our friends and partners in ministry. So many of our 'big' items have been covered already! We look forward to showing and telling you how this new house will be used for ministry and life here in Dar.
We praise GOD for providing through YOU ALL!

Prayer Letter Report:
As we wrap up our first year in Tanzania, we are in a need of a strong finish in financial giving. Currently, we are at 75% of our yearly budget with two weeks to go in our fiscal year. Looking ahead, we've reduced our budget for the upcoming year, but are still in need of friends to partner with us through monthly giving. We are also in need of special giving for basic living items as we set up our own home. We have items lined up from other missionary families who are leaving, but need additional financial support in order to actually purchase them within the next few weeks! 

Can you help?
Help cover rent                      $1000
Stove                                        $300
1 large bed                              $275
Refridgerator                         $225

Wash Machine                      $200
Bunk Beds                             $150
Guest bed                              $150
1 Large Mosquito Net          $75
1 chair for living room:       $60
1 chair for living room:       $60
1 dresser                                $35
1 dresser                                $30
1 dresser                                $30
Desk                                       $30
1 Mosquito Net                     $25
1 Mosquito Net                    $25
Bookshelf                              $20
1 Fan                                      $20
1 Fan                                      $20
Bookcase (kids)                   $15
1 kids chair                           $15
1 kids chair                           $15
4 trash bins                          $12
Kids table                             $10
Laundry Basket                  $9
Step stool                             $7

To give,  follow these 5 simple steps:
1. Visit Christian Reformed World Missions Website by clicking here:
2. At the first drop down menu (Under "Allocate my gift"), choose "Missionaries - Africa"
3. To the right there will be another drop down menu, choose "Driesenga, Marc"
4. Continue to fill out the gift amount, billing and payment information.
5. Send us an email to let us know what you have contributed so we can update our list:

As always, your gift is tax deductible.

We are so thankful for your continued partnership, and look forward to sharing more stories of God's grace on our blog.

With love and deep gratitude,
Marc & Gretchen
Isaac, Hope & Geneva

Friday, June 20, 2014

"How exactly do you pray to God?"

"How exactly do you pray to God? I've been praying 5 times a day as a Muslim, but how do you actually pray to the real God?"

This was the question asked of me last week Saturday by a beautiful lady who had just a week or two prior, converted from Islam to Christianity.

A missionary here in Dar who works at HOPAC had befriended this lovely lady and had been praying for her for over a year. Recently, the conversation turned into a conversion. And then an invitation to attend our latest "Ladies Tea" that our church hosted.

Our church hosts a ladies tea every 3-4 months. It's a 3-4 hour long event where we get to leave the kids home and enjoy time with just ladies. We push for eveyone to invite a friend, especially if that friend might not feel comfortable coming to church. We hope that it's a safe place for ladies in all walks of life and faith to come and share in community.

This past Saturday, my friend Angie and I were in charge of the tea. When we began praying together about it, it was quite clear that God's Grace was to be the theme of the morning. Angie has such a heart for women, and a passion for sharing God's grace. I have been drawn to her since meeting her because she is a humble, faithful, passionate follower of Jesus who loves others deeply. I have already learned so much from her just by spending time with her, and her gifts have been a huge asset to the life of our church (and to me, personally!). It was clear that she had much to share with the ladies, so she graciously agreed to be our speaker.
2 Corinthians 12: 9 & 10
 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

On Saturday we ate together and had time to welcome guests and chat for a bit. We then moved into a time or worship that I had the priviledge of leading. Angie then shared about the above passage and did a fantastic job. We broke into small groups to share with one another and also did an activity that really demonstrated God's grace. We were all given a rock. As we shared with one another what we found to be our areas of weakness, struggle, hardship or difficulties, we wrote them on the rock. We then went walked out to the ocean (the house we were at is right on the beach - it's lovely!) and spent a few minutes in prayer before throwing our rock into the ocean. Now, this was NOT an activity to 'throw away' your weaknesses, but Angie reminded us that God's grace and love are bigger than the ocean, and we were merely throwing our rock into God's immense grace, because it's big enough to cover our weaknesses. What a beautiful picture!
As I stood on the beach, this lovely woman, who had been in my small group, came up to me and asked the above question.
We talked about the freedom we can live in as followers and lovers of Jesus. She already knew about the Lord's Prayer, and I shared with her how Jesus wants a relationship with her, not just a prayer of obligation. It was a fantastic conversation, and it was clear her heart longed to know more.
After everyone wrapped up their groups, we headed inside where we did a small craft. We took journals and covered them with old scraps of fabric, making designs or simply covering them. The idea was that these old pieces of throw-away fabric could be turned into something beautiful and useful, much like God's power being made perfect in our weakness.
Towards the end of our time together, one woman commented, "I wish this was a whole weekend thing!". It's obvious there is a desire for women to connect and share life together, and it's an honor to be a part of how God is doing that work in our church.
Please say a prayer for this woman today, as she learns more and more what it means to follow Jesus and walk in His ways!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Group Visit: Tuesday

Tuesday Marc went to work and Isaac to school. We had a bit of time in the morning for some coffee and then ventured over to the Nuru Center, which is a center for diabled folks - many of them deaf. Some of them live on sight, but others commute and just come during the day. They make craft items to sell as a source of income. A post will come someday when I know more about the true limits of those with diasbilities here in TZ.

We were able to hear a bit about the center, and then sit with the folks and work on craft items with them. It ranged from cutting strips of paper to make beads, making bead, sanding wood pieces and watching Geneva and another baby play. :) Despite one of the staff telling me (in sign language) that I've gained weight since he last saw me, we had a great time! Ha! He said I must like Chipati (similar to tortillas) a lot!


We stopped by HOPAC for a quick bite to eat at the snack bar and to pick up my dear friend, Trudie. She works at HOPAC as one of the Service Learning Coordinators, and her husband is our pastor, so she wears many, many important hats! She has connections in the community, and our group from WMC had collected books to bring to a school and an orphanage.

Trudie took us to Benaco school which is about a 10 - 15 minute drive from HOPAC. There is a group from our school that goes to this school to read to the students in English, so it was fitting that we were able to visit and bring little kids books in English for them to read!

After meeting with the principal of the school, Jake, Kyle and Selina all got to take turns reading a book to one of the classes. This school has over 1, 250 student and has 6 classrooms. There are 60+ kids per class with one teacher.

We returned home and got supplies ready for my neighbor kids to come over. The WMC group brought tons of craft supplies and a few simple games (Go Fish & Memory), so we had an extra special play time with the kids.


We ate an AMAZING Tanzanian soup, called Kande, made again by Lucy. She said it's a special soup they eat on Good Friday and she maybe has it 3 times a year. It's amazing. I'll write up her recipe in a future post.

Does all of this sound amazing? Are you temped to come for a visit yet?

Group Visit: Monday

After a quick tour of HOPAC, Marc took the group to the city center for the day. We live about 30-45 minutes (in no traffic) from the heart of the city and do not get there often. It's crowded, full of businesses, buses, shops and markets. The purpose of the groups trip, however, was mainly to go into to the Hindu Temples and see the outsides of the Mosques.

Other World Religions are prominent here. We hear the Muslim calls to prayer 5 times a day. We see the different styles of dress all around us. We notice the lack of pork in many butcher shops. We dress more modestly as to not offend other culutres and religions. Marc has Hindu and Muslim students in his classes. We have several friends who have converted from Islam to Christianity. It's real.

We wanted to share with our visitors this reality of our friends/neighbors worshipping in temples or mosques and the heaviness and seriousness of what (and who) is truly at work. It's not something you would see often, if at all, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You would have to search out an experience like this, where in Dar it's a part of everyday life for so many. We wanted to share with them that it is not necessary to fear, but it IS necessary to pray. There are so many in our world who are lost and searching for Christ. While we all have idols in our lives that we put ahead of Christ, it's a different experience to walk into a Temple and see a god and witness people praying to it.

After visiting several Temples, the group ate some Indian food, met up with our church friend, Izzy and then ventured into the markeplaces to see textiles, spices, fruits, vegetables and anything else you can imagine. They had a long day and in true Dar fashion, got stuck in traffic on the way home.

While the group were downtown, I had the priviledge of subbing for Marc in his Grade 8 and Grade 9 classes.

We all arrived home and had a delicious Tanzanian meal of Pilau and Ndizi, prepared by Lucy.