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Lanesboro junior shares stories from Tanzania mission trip


By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Aug 16th, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro Faith & Worship

Matthew Kiehne, of Lanesboro, Minn., was one of an eight-person mission group to travel to Tanzania July 1-16. Photo submitted

By Mitchell Walbirdge

The lifestyle lived in small-town southeastern Minnesota differs greatly from other regions of the world as 17 year-old Lanesboro junior Matthew Kiehne figured out after being immersed in Tanzanian culture for 16 days in early to mid-July.

Kiehne ventured to the African country as one of eight youths participating with the Minnesota Youth Servant Leadership Institute in cooperation with the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of American and Good Earth Village Bible Camp.

With the goals of building leadership and partnership between American and Tanzanian youth, connecting with the partner congregation of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Singida, Tanzania, and sharing the faith in Jesus Christ through ministry, Kiehne and his group traveled with two pastors, a nurse and a travel agent.

The mission group hosted bible camps in Arush, Singida, and Kijota. Kiehne explained that at the bible camps, he was in charge of running the games. “I think this was the best of the activities to get to be a part of.”

Beyond learning more about his faith, Kiehne also learned an extensive amount of knowledge about an unfamiliar culture. The universal necessity of sleep, which every human needs, is even conducted in a different style than here in the United States. Kiehne explained that he slept on a type of bunk-style bed, enclosed by a bug net for protection from malaria infected mosquitos. In Tanzania, they also do not utilize pillows. “I even fell through my bed one night,” chuckled Kiehne while telling about his adventure.

Church and faith are taken very seriously in Tanzania. “Church is an all-day event,” said Kiehne. It’s typical to have two church services in one day in the African country, some of them lasting three hours a piece.”

Taking in the landscape was another large part of Kiehne’s trip. The travel party visited areas such as the Ngorongora Crater, the land area remnants of a previously erupted volcano. Tarangire National Park was also the list to visit where the group saw the unique continental wildlife.

“It’s very different than over here,” stated Kiehne as he explained that the sights are significantly contrasting from the infrastructure-developed areas of the United States. “You can see the entire skyline,” explained Kiehne, “There are no buildings blocking your view of the horizon.”

Other sites that Kiehne took in were the custom clothing and hair styles as nearly everyone in Tanzania is either bald or close to bald. Houses in the country are either made of red brick or huts that are made of mud.

Kiehne and his group also had to adjust to communicating through translators as Swahili is the main spoken language. In addition living with unreliable electricity and traveling to distant sources for water were changes requiring adaptation. Right now is the dry season in Tanzania where one can rarely spot a cloud in the sky or feel a breeze accompanying a rain shower.

Whether remembering the observations of a unique and unfamiliar culture, taking in the sounds of the Swahili language, the taste of a Tanzanian dish, or the joy of spreading faith through the service of mission work, Kiehne and his co-travellers will remember the special time they spent overseas.

“It was bittersweet to leave those who you’d spent the last days with practically doing everything together,” reminsced Kiehne.

The mission group that Kiehne was part of travels to Tanzania once every three years.

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