Within minutes, there was a crowd of children following us, holding hands with Haley, Brittany, Chandy, Melissa and me-especially intrigued with our sleek, long hair and white skin. [The girls were troopers as they were touched and clung to by dozens of kids (many with obvious lice) in the hot sun. I was proud of how they represented our country and our Savior to those around them.] The children would sometimes try out their minimal English on us, but mostly we communicated with hugs and smiles. The Tanzanian children loved seeing themselves on the screen of my camera-they'd make crazy faces and laugh hysterically upon viewing themselves and their friends. They would ask what my name is, and my answer always resulted in puzzled looks or giggles because in Swahili, "jana" means "yesterday."
If you look ahead of us, you'll see a beauty salon…and a cell phone shack!
Ron and some local pastors eventually got the stage put up and the sound system working (that was a miracle in and of itself!). The concert started with some songs from a couple of local orphanages, then a few songs from the children of TOA.
Then, with the help of a translator, I got up with the girls, then with the children from TOA and presented our songs, along with messages of eternal life and hope in Christ. The locals gradually got the idea of participating with the motions, and in no time, most of the kids were joining in.
The adults and leaders would do this classic African hoot (where they wobble their tongue back and forth), which always made me laugh-so much life! They were so joyful and appreciative. I was especially pleased to see many Muslim families listening intently the whole time. There is a huge Muslim influence in Tanzania--they offer free education to poor children if they agree to convert to Islam for life. At any of our concerts anywhere, we e never know who might be listening and what their story might be, so I always try to be pretty clear about the hope we have in Jesus…for this life and eternal life. Forgiveness and healing can be foreign concepts in places of such brokenness. But the Lord came to save us all…from every corner. We in the States have a lot of things to fall back on for security…in much of Africa they have little to nothing. They have each other (but say goodbye all too often from AIDS deaths and other illnesses)…and that's about it. It nearly made me cry to see the children of TOA singing their hearts out about the Lord and the hope and joy they have knowing Him, knowing He loves them and lives in them. They reminded me of how Jesus tells us to seek FIRST His kingdom…because that is what really matters and will last.