It’s now October, I’ve already eaten my season’s share of pumpkin spice through a variety of mediums, and we’re looking at lows the next couple of nights in the mid-40’s. Summer 2014 is definitely a bygone era!

Nathan Brasfield, Eric Angel, Cayce Stapp of The Church of the Resurrection, and Bob Whitsitt in Malawi

Nathan Brasfield, Eric Angel, Cayce Stapp of The Church of the Resurrection, and Bob Whitsitt in Malawi

But what a vital season it was in the life of our missional engagement around the world, and there’s so many stories that could be told.

You can check out some of these stories in the 2014 Summer Missions Recap series about Brazil and Mexico.

Though I work primarily in local missions here at Christ Church, I want to tell my own story of my first overseas experience since I’ve been here.

Earlier this past July, Bob Whitsitt, who leads Serving & Outreach, journey to Zambia to follow up on several wells that were dug to provide clean water for villages in Zambia. You can read about his time there on the Blog here, and learn all about the Water is Life campaign at cumcmemphis.org/water.

Not long after Bob headed to Zambia, International Missions Director Eric Angel and I left for Tanzania.

Perhaps the greatest impact on me by my time in Africa was the genuine hospitality I found there. And my first taste of African hospitality actually came from the Hood family: Jason, Emily, Darby, Noah, James, and Jasper.

Jason formerly served CUMC as Scholar-in-Residence and Director of the Christ College Residency Program, and he and his family moved to Tanzania so that Jason could pastor the Anglican congregation in Moshi. Jason and his family are now considered missionaries that we are pleased to support.

After being fed (wildebeest and pancakes) and sheltered (under mosquito nets) by the Hood family for several days, Eric and I truly discovered what their new life in Africa is like.

If you knew Jason and his family while they were here in Memphis, you’ll be pleased to know that they’re speaking considerably more Swahili than they did before they moved, and that they are getting along very well.

They obviously embrace with enthusiasm the good things about the new part of the world they now call home (including geckos in the house), and they are having a real influence for Jesus among people that are in need of faithful instruction and guidance.

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From Tanzania, Eric and I met up with Bob in Malawi, where we were warmly welcomed by a team from The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. COR was doing medical work and helping dig a well in a Malawian village, and we were given every opportunity to truly be with them along the way as we learned about medical teams and a new method for drilling for water.

From spending all day in the village where we were treated with amazing hospitality by some contagiously-joyous people, to the after-dinner sharing and prayer times these several days in Malawi were an experiential lesson in the value of being present.

In our daily lives and in our mission work, we try to do, do, do. But I learned by my time in Africa that the pure value of God’s human beings calls for a life of simply and genuinely welcoming each other and choosing to be present–even with the the stranger.

By the way, if you want to keep up with Jason Hood’s newfound hobby in Tanzania, check out facebook.com/tanzanianbutterflies

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