Thursday, we flew back to Dar, where Pastor Umba met us and took us to the Msimbazi Centre (RC retreat center). The next morning, we went bopping around the city, shopping for stuff. I was particularly on the lookout for MAPS.
Back in Kigoma, Mwenge and I went to the District office of the Ministry of Land, and there on a bureaucrat's wall, I saw a topographical map of Kigoma. I fell in lust immediately. (I collect topo maps.) I was informed that you can only get topo maps at the Ministry of Land in Dar es Salaam.
It took quite a while to find the Ministry, with its Map Shop -- and it took longer with the eager help of Umba and the pastor of the Dar UMC. They had a hard time understanding what a "map shop" might be, and neither had ever seen a topo map before. We finally found the place, and there the two of them launched into a long explanation of what I was looking for with a wizened clerk behind the map counter. When I finally couldn't stand it any longer, I explained what I wanted, and we discovered that the clerk spoke perfect English, replete with the technical vocabulary of maps and surveys. So I now have topos of Kigoma and Morogoro! I bought Umba a map of Morogoro, and he was enthralled.
The bus trip to Morogoro was nice, but getting tickets and getting on the bus was a madhouse. Of all the travel situations I have faced in Africa, dealing with an African bus station freaks me out the most. Without Umba and the other pastor to assist, I'm sure I would have been a nervous wreck trying to make the right connections. As it was, we were launched on our way, and about 2 1/2- 3 hours later, we were in Morogoro.
They gave us a break, and then several members of the church arrived with Pastor Umba to give us a walking tour of Morogoro. I warned our crew to expect this, but it was still grueling. A long walk around the town in the heat of an African afternoon! But Morogoro is a very beautiful city, and the Uluguru Mountains that brood over the city are breath-taking.
At one point, Pastor Umba called out, "Stop! Stop!" I turned to see what he was exercised about, and he said, "They are carrying a death." And there in front of us were several young men bearing a stretcher on their shoulders, with a body wrapped in a sheet upon it. They were going from the local hospital to the man's home to start the funeral. We stood quietly in respect, and I removed my hat and held it over my heart.
Yesterday, we got an early start for Mikumi National Park. Spent the day driving around the bush, looking for game. We saw lions! A whole pride of them: six lionesses and two cubs, up close. We also saw wildebeest, impalas, zebras, giraffe, hippos, a croc or two, elephants, baboons, herons, a beautiful bird called a lilac-breasted Aurora, and other cool animals, all out wandering around doing their thing.
Today was church. By the pound. The Morogoro congregation is an enthusiastic bunch, with lots of singing (and a fair bit of dancing). Yours Truly preached again. The service lasted a couple of hours. Afterwards, we got the missions report (an African institution, where they tell you all their church's needs, just in case you can supply some of them).
We got the full tour. Umba is a man of vision. They are building schools, a pastor's training center, a dispensary, a milling machine, and much more. When Umba got here some years ago, he applied for a huge grant of land, and he has determinedly set out to build a ministry on it with all the trimmings. As we were making the rounds, several Maasai church members arrived. They had walked several miles to greet us.
Umba has been busy evangelizing the local Maasai. He also bicycles out into the bush to supervise preaching stations throughout the week.
After we got back, we Wazungu (white folk) walked down to a local bakery to buy the wherewithal for a light lunch. We retired to our room and ate and talked.
Tomorrow, we bus back to Dar, do a little running around, then hit the airport Tuesday morning for the grueling, two-day journey home. Keep us all in your prayers, as we continue to pray for you.