Saturday, April 4, 2015

His is Risen!

In Swahili we will greet each other today with the words "Amefufuka" and reply, "Amefufuka kweli"  ("He has risen" "He has risen truly").  This week is THE week in our Faith Walk of following Jesus.  With out the resurrection, we are without hope.  Truly without hope, without meaning to our lives.

I reflected on that even more yesterday when I received a call from the father of a heart patient of mine. We discovered last month that he has a congenital defect in his heart that needs repair.  We were blessed to have ultrasound to get more information and then sent on to experts/friends at Mayo Clinic.  I contacted a surgeon at a large hospital 12 hours north of here and they agreed to do the surgery free.  Ufunuo, the name of the 2-9/12 yr old boy means "Revelation".  Things were set for mid April.  Then I got the call from his dad.  I expected to just catch up on how things were in the village and if they were ready to go.  He relayed the news to me that Ufunuo had died on Tuesday…I was so not expecting that.  

We had all been so excited thinking that once repaired he would likely live a normal life.  I can still see his face as we did repeated ultrasounds to confirm what his defect was.  His face as he was scared.  I remember he and his dad going home from the hospital with hope.  And then Tuesday…I can only imagine the pain that his dad and mom and family are dealing with.  But then I remembered that his dad clearly knew and had experienced the life changing experience of faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ. I had talked to him about that in the course of daily rounds.  He knew his son was very sick, but he had hope.  

As they often say here "katakana na mapenzi ya Mungu" (according to the will of God").  Sounds a bit fatalistic but it's not.  It is faith that God is indeed God, and that he is Sovereign over all.  I don't like at all the fact that Ufunuo has died.  But I do have faith that God knows what he is doing.  I do know that Ufunuo's father has peace amidst that sorrow that he will see his son again.  And I know, with out a doubt, that some day I will be standing before the throne of God worshipping Jesus Christ along with Ufunuo, his dad, my dad, and so many more!  

I close with this Swahili phrase we often say after morning chapel.  "Yesu Kristo, Tumaini yeti" (Jesus Christ, our Hope")

Praying all of you have a blessed Easter Sunday and that your hearts are full of the hope that comes from knowing Jesus Christ.

Larry and Sally 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Update after a long time

Yep, been a long time since I have written anything.  We're currently in the USA preparing for our youngest daughter's wedding!  Kelly and Todd will get married 31st August at Waldenwoods Resort, Michigan and I will get to officiate.  Our whole family is so happy for them.  For the past two years they have worked together for Habitat for Humanity in Minneapolis, MN and during that time got to know each other.  Realised that God had brought them together and so we get to celebrate a wedding.  

Amidst the wedding preparations we are totally enjoying seeing our extended family, our grand daughter Dani & Megan, and Adam & Brianne.  Just love our family so much…

We are now a two family team here.  The Essers are an awesome family.  Jon and Kim are home schooling their kids and running our program to provide safe drinking water in homes.  They are identifying kids that were admitted to our hospital for water borne illnesses or malnutrition and then follow up with home visits to place a ceramic water filter.  Of course with that comes health and hygiene teaching as well as discovering other social and spiritual issues in the homes.  We are so thankful to donors through BGR for providing 600 ceramic water filters for our team!  

About the hospital… We have seen NO Ebola patients.  We are over 4,000 miles from the epidemic although we do recognise people travel a lot.  We are always vigilant for unusual tropical diseases and use appropriate precautions.  On a great note, we have been blessed to open the Maternity Ward last October.  It has been busy busy with 140 deliveries in June!  Kigoma moms love our ward as it is clean and equipped and staffed.  We've added some more staff for the hospital through the contract with the Gov't of Tanzania.  We've had some great volunteer teams come and serve with us and have plans for more in the coming months.  It is a blessing to serve along side others who see the need for the combination of proclamation and demonstration of the love of Jesus.  It is our privilege to serve Him.

God willing we will be back in Kigoma on 8 September.  Will be accompanied by a young nurse that will volunteer with us for a couple of months.  Yeah!  We have been blessed to have an oxygen concentrator donated so we will be carrying that back.  A huge thanks to Brainerd Baptist Church for arranging to pay the extra baggage fee!  October we'll have two PA students from Michigan rotating with us and November another PA and her husband.  Another small team in November from Dawson Memorial, AL as well.  

Thankful for the privilege we have to serve Jesus and to work under such a great organisation.  Thank you to all that give through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Offering of our SBC churches as well as giving to BGR (Baptist Global Response).  Keep on praying for us to remain strong and focused on what God has called us to do.

Grace and Peace,
Larry and Sally

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Village Ministry in Kaseke and Mwakizega - "Preaching and Healing"

Preaching and Healing Ministry.  Sally and I were blessed to have a great team with us – Brad and Angie, Pastor Jackson, Juma, and Michelle.  We began each morning with a worship time of singing, praying and sharing a testimony.  Then we treated medical problems, did blood pressure screening, and distributed reading glasses.  Afternoons were for showing the "Adamu na Hawa" (Adam and Eve) movie followed by discussion.  Each day over a hundred people clearly heard the gospel.   I think the pictures are self-explanatory.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Preach and Heal"

I am always amazed by the teachings and life of Jesus.  The Scriptures say that if you want to see God, know God, look at Jesus.  He had compassion on the sick, the poor, the disenfranchised, the 'sinners'.  At a particularly crucial point in his ministry, he gave the Twelve power and authority and he sent them out with the command to "proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal".  They did just that by His power and what happened was like a bright light illuminating the darkness.

Jesus continues to send us out to preach and to heal.  We do that through his power, his strength, and with wisdom that he gives.  We do it because he said so, and because there are people that have not yet seen the beauty of Jesus nor have they experienced the joy of having their sins forgiven and new life.

I love the promise that Jesus gave to us.  First that he has all authority, and that he is with us. Always.

This week we have the privilege of Preaching and Healing with an awesome team.  Brad and Angie from San Diego have arrived safely.  They brought with them 600 pair of reading glasses!  We will be serving together here in Kigoma/Ujiji, and out in two villages (Kaseke and Mwakizega).  Our team is Sally and I, Brad and Angie, Michelle (a missionary nurse here), Pastors Jackson and Onesimus, and one of the elders, Juma.

Sunday: Ministry at Azimio Baptist Church, Ujiji.  Ujiji is approximately 100,000 people with 99% of another faith.  Brad will preach.  After we will offer to the community a free clinic of giving reading glasses, treating kids for worms and giving vitamins, and blood pressure screening.  During that time we will be talking of why we are Followers of Jesus.

Monday through Thursday: Village of Kaseke.  Kaseke village is where Pastor Onesimo began a church last year.  We will do a similar thing in the mornings with the free clinic.  In the afternoons we will be showing a couple of films as a means to initiate conversations about faith.  The film on Monday is "Adam and Eve", the first in a series of films of faith from the Bible  (  Tuesday through Thursday we will use the film "The Hope" (produced by Mars Hill Texas).  After the film and discussion, we will do home visits to people that haven't yet decided to become followers.  One of the mornings we will be teaching about safe water and hand washing.  It is such a basic, but as many don't have safe water, they suffer diseases because of it.  We will be distributing some tablets that help to purify water.  They are readily available here in Tanzania and we want to encourage people to use them.  (Wednesday morning we'll do a reading glasses clinic at the hospital.)

Friday and Saturday: will be going to a new village down the road – Mwakizega.  God has impressed it on Pastor Onesimo's heart that he is to go there and preach.  We offered to come along and as a team, preach and heal.

Sunday: back to Kaseke Baptist Church for worship.

Will post an update as the week progresses.  Please remember us.  Pray that people's ears will be opened to the truth, the person of Truth, Jesus Christ.  Pray that their eyes of their hearts will be opened to see the beauty of Jesus.  We know that God draws people to himself.  We pray that we will see His Kingdom come in Ujiji, Kaseke, and Mwakizega this week.

Daily by His grace,

Larry and Sally and the team

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"What's your typical day like in Africa?"

It was a common question asked while we were in the USA.  Thought I'd share today – as if there are any typical days…

0515 Alarm goes off.  Quick shower.  To the kitchen to brew a cup of home roasted Panamanian coffee.  Read my Bible as I have set as a goal to read through the entire Bible this year.  Pray for Sally, our kids, family, ministry.  Seek God's will and ask for wisdom for the day.

0615-0630 iChat with my sister as it's still evening for her.  Catch up on how Mom and Dad are doing.  Learn that dad fell and ripped open his hand and mom has a UTI which worsens the memory problems.  Pray for them all.

0630-0655 Eat my usual granola with fresh fruit and home made yoghurt.  Read Our Daily Bread and Piper devotional while eating.  Get more spiritual food along with physical food.

0655 Tell Sally I love her and leave to pick up Hospital Chaplain Jackson.  Catch up with his news as we drive to the hospital.  Learn that his 5 year old grandson died while I was in Kenya.  So sad.  He died of complications of malaria.

0720 Arrive at hospital.  Drop off things in my office and head to OPD where we have morning chapel (M-F).  Sing songs and then Pastor Jackson shares devotional from Isaiah.  

0800-0830 Morning Staff meeting.  Only 14 staff show up for the meeting so it was short.  Morning report of 42 inpatients (25 kids; 7 Men; 10 women).  Remember that I forgot the new handheld digital thermometer at home so I drive back home to get it.  Stop on the way to buy pork as Sally wants to make pulled pork and we have no meat in the freezer.  About 20-25 pigs are butchered a day in this area.  Buy 2 kilos from the rump and 3 kilos from the loin area.  The guy uses a machete to chop it off and then I have to wait as he has to go borrow someone else's scales.  Pay $3.25/kilo.  Bring Sally a 'gift' of a pork and get the thermometer.  Return to hospital.

0915-1400 Hospital Rounds on the 42 patients.  Begin with sharing with the mothers about how God knows each of their kids and loves them.  That although we will be making diagnosis and offering treatment, it is ultimately God who heals, not us.  Almost all of the kids are two to a bed.  Many are malaria, others pneumonia along with UTI.  Thankful we now have the rapid diagnostic test that tests for malaria.  Better for the lab and really helpful to know do they have it or not.  Has its limitations but better than having to do a standard blood smear on every case.  Have two nursing students along with a missionary nurse (works M-W) to help do rounds.  Some patients came during the late afternoon and evening so no lab was done.  Samples taken while we continue to do rounds.  10 kids discharged home on treatment, 5 of the women and one man.  Makes room for the new admissions being attended in the OPD.

1400-1500 Make survey around hospital with the head nurse and a fundi (jack of all trades) friend Juma who will be doing several much needed repairs.  14 fluorescent lights not working; some plumbing repairs needed; couple of doors with no handles; three rooms that need ceiling fans installed; one door hinge broken; a few sockets needing replacement; most walls and floor need repainting; 8 ceiling boards missing; two float valves dysfunctional in drinking water tanks (comes from the well); no city water for about a month.  Talk with Juma about making a list of supplies and a plan for the repairs.  Discover good news that while I was gone that some replacement lights have been ordered but have not arrived yet.

While doing the survey in OPD find a young boy who I had asked mom to bring him back today for review.  Leg still not healed.  Change treatment, talk with mom to assure that she understands, and ask to return after ten days.

1500-1530 Do ultrasound of lady with massive ascites (water on the abdomen). 

1530-1630 Consult on elderly man admitted with fever and urinary retention.  Review lab results from the morning and write further treatment as needed and discharge two more kids.

1630 Call Sally and ask her to meet me at the gate with our market bag so we can go to town and get money and buy food in the market.

1645-1800 Pick up Sally at the house and head to town.  Stop at the ATM to get money as tomorrow is pay day for our security guards (at our house) as well as for our yard man.  Stop at a duka (small shop) to get 5kg flour, 5 Kigoma sugar, honey (to make granola); 4 small packs of coconut milk; a cold local cola.  Carry to the truck and then head into the open market.  Buy 2 kilo onions; 3 garlic; 2 pieces of fresh ginger; 1 kilo dry beans; 2 kilo potatoes (fresh from Rwanda).  Next to the fruit section.  Bananas, pineapple and passion fruit from one lady.  Carrots from another.  2 avocado and a cabbage from the other.  Speak a blessing over the ladies that sell there.  Return to truck.  Stop at another duka to pick up a battery for my kitchen digital scale.  Head home.  Unload the truck.  Stuff needs to be cleaned but will have to wait.

1800-1900 Pray together before eating.  Eat supper of pulled pork sandwiches with a cucumber/tomato/onion salad with a nice big cold glass of sweet tea…Talk with Sally about the day.

1900-2100 Attend Missionary Fellowship over at the Joy in the Harvest Community Center (every Wednesday evening we get together for worship, bible study and fellowship).

2100-now Finish cutting up the pork into boneless chops, stew meat, and dog scraps.  Roast a batch of coffee.  Make a copy of a new movie "Adam na Hawa" (Adam and Eve) that was filmed in the Middle East as a part of a series of movies from the Bible  ( Friend wants to use the movie in a village next month when they sail up the lake to a new area of ministry.   

Decide to write this blogpost while waiting for the DVD to copy.  (we have permission to duplicate)

Praise God for his grace for each day.  Thankful that he has given us this opportunity to serve here.  Thankful for the support we have from our mission and from friends.  We are truly blessed.  

Really missing my kids…pray for them again…realize it's 11:30PM and I need to get to bed.

Daily by His grace.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Community Development or Kingdom Development?

Community Development = Kingdom Advancement. I am so thankful for the training that we are getting this week from BGR (Baptist Global Response). We are all aware of the vast and varied needs in sub-Saharan Africa. Many times we are 'paralyzed' regarding what to do. Sure, if there is a disaster, we are good at responding and have done so in many places. Many lives have been spared, people blessed, and in many cases peopled introduced to the loving grace and mercy of Jesus. Where in general disaster relief is short term (weeks to a few months), Community Development may be months to years.

But the hard work comes in Community Development, or I like to call it Community Transformation. Some might ask "Why bother?" Consider this:

- The Love of Christ compels us.
- The Needs of the people move us.
- The Word of God commands us.
- The desire to make Jesus known in WORD and DEED inspires us.

I am excited as I think about how Sally and I and our minstry partners (some new) will be able to impact the Kingdom of God in Community Transformation as we do that through our work at Kigoma Baptist Hospital. It will take time, time to hear what Tanzanians see as important, time to determine what resources are available, time to implement, and then a time to celebrate.

Well, back to the classroom to learn more...

(photo of a skit teaching some of the principles of CD)
tel. +255 753 862 314

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Back in Tanzania

I'm sitting in my chair listening to the sound of the waves on our
beach as I write this update. It is so hard to imagine that we
completed 8 months of time in the USA and are now back in Tanzania. I
have to say, the 'good byes' don't get any easier even though we have
done this several times now.

Being in the USA to celebrate two graduations, a wedding, birthdays,
moving kids to new jobs/homes and other family events like
Thanksgiving has been priceless. Helping with aging parents has been
much of our focus. We are thankful for the many churches we have
spoken at having traveled several thousand miles from the Upper
Peninsula of Michigan to Indiana, east to Virginia, DC, and South to
Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. Lots of miles, lots of friendly
faces, and several people that have expressed a willingness to join us
in Kingdom work in Kigoma. We had numerous opportunities to share our
Health Care Ministries Strategy and many are ready to help. We are
excited as we anticipate what God will do in the coming months and
even years.

God continues to provide in amazing ways! We have been blessed
through one of our SBC churches to bring back some much needed medical
equipment for the hospital (vital signs monitor, pulse oximeter, temp
probes, fetal doplars, and a portable screen for CME inservices). In
addition, there is a very good opportunity for us to receive further
grant money to better equip the hospital lab and patient wards. Top
on my list of 'to do' is to sit with our staff and determine the most
appropriate equipment and set up a plan for cross training,
maintenance, and supply chains. It is an area that sorely needs
attention. And don't forget the amazing ultrasound machine that we
were given through Baptist Global Response (see previous post).

Sally and I are looking at a very busy coming year. Sally is part way
through her certification as a TEFL Instructor (Teaching English as
Foreign Language). Plans are to offer this training at the hospital
grounds focusing on women students. A great opportunity for Sally to
develop relationships with women in the community.

I will continue at the hospital serving as Head, Department of
Medicine and coordinating medical volunteers. Needless to say,
developent for the hospital is a real concern of mine as it will
result in better quality compassionate care for the thousands that we
treat. There are a number of exciting possibilities that we will be

Lastly, language...remember us as we search deep in our brains for all
those Swahili words we learned. Just need to get those synapses fired
up again.

All for His glory!

Larry and Sally

Larry and Sally Pepper