Well we've arrived at last, after a long but relatively uneventful journey. For some of us it's meant two nights with little or no sleep, but all rendezvous, connections, security checks, check-ins and lengthy walks (and bus rides) through various airports happened smoothly and without a hitch.
Well I say without a hitch. We were all asked to vacate the plane we'd just boarded in Dar-es-Salaam as there were problems with the refuelling – probably that it wasn't a great idea refuelling with passengers on board – but that was a small enough glitch, and if it's the worst we encounter over the next week and a bit, then I think we'll all be grateful.
Today was a relaxed day (for those who chose to relax), consisting mainly of recovering from the journey. We enjoyed a lunch of rice and peas up at the Grassroots centre, then most of us went along to a nearby feeding program where those of us with half a functioning brain helped with the distribution.
This year's team consists of (in no particular order):
Elsbeth, Liz, Janet, Fiona, Sharon, Ruth, Marylin, Sue, Nikki, Aneta, Nancy, Graham, Stanley (for three days), John, Matthew, Matthew (yes another one), Mark and James.
It sounds a little like we have the beginnings of a New Testament in there somewhere, but I doubt that means much.
More later when (hopefully) there will be a few more neurons firing.
So it wasn't the only glitch. Our Internet connection continues not to work, making it a challenge to write and send the blogs, and the database isn't working properly (and with internet not working we can't download a fix yet). Please pray for this to be fixed.
Otherwise, today was the first day of interviews. The entire team went to Airport where we all just about managed to squeeze into the church building. The work went quickly and by about 4:30, we had completed nearly three hundred interviews – about one tenth of the total for the week. The atmosphere during the day was one of cheerful industry, and despite having fewer people on the team than usual, the full day's work was completed without much stress.
Among today's interpreters was a young man named Baraka – which means blessed. He has been with the Grassroots sponsorship program for the past seventeen years (sponsored by the same person). He entered the scheme when he was eight, in the last two years he has been undergoing medical training, and today was his last day of sponsorship.
In his interview he said, "I can't thank you enough for what you have done. You have helped me fulfil me dreams."
At the end of the day, when he was told that he had completed his last interview, he was overwhelmed and became quite tearful. He then said that when he could afford to, he hoped to sponsor a child himself.
Overall a very uplifting day (despite glitches), and one that highlighted the importance of sponsorship as a partnership between sponsor and sponsored (and Grassroots).