It is Christmas week here in Tanzania and the excitement of the children at Treasures of Africa has been rising! We enjoyed a holiday outing to beautiful Lake Chala in northern Tanzania by the Kenya border. The children enjoyed hiking around and viewing the great natural beauty. They had never visited the area before. We brought boxed lunches and enjoyed a wonderful picnic.
Today the younger children received their beautiful matching Christmas outfits from the local tailor who made them. They were so excited to try on their new clothes and they looked so great! The older kids were each given a certain budget and spent a day at the market choosing their own special Christmas outfit. They enjoyed making their own choices of style and color and practicing the Tanzanian art of bargaining!
Tonight, some very special Christmas memories were made. All the children received brand new pajamas and slipper socks and we bundled them all up in the van in their PJs and brought them to the Mission house for some special Christmas fun. There we prepared a new experience for them all - hot cocoa with marshmallows. Christmas cookies were enjoyed and popcorn was passed around while we all watched THE NATIVITY Christmas movie together.
But the biggest surprise of all - was the beautiful sight of Christmas stockings lining the stairway handrail as they walked into the Mission House. The squeals of glee were so precious. Each stocking had a child's name on it and was filled with treats for each child. Christmas Day holds more surprises for them. After church, a big Christmas feast is planned with Baba Warren preparing chicken on the BarBQue and our staff cook preparing more yummy items for the feast. Then we have a special gift for each child on Christmas Day.
All of these wonderful blessings for the children of Treasures of Africa came from the Lord through the generous hands of our wonderful donors. So we wanted to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU and God bless you! We pray your Christmas is especially sweet and that the New Year brings more blessing than you can imagine or even contain!
It is not too late to make a year end donation to Treasures of Africa to help us with our School fees which are due by the end of the month for the new school year which begins in January. Or make a donation to the BUILDING FUND so we can continue to prepare for the building of the Treasures of Africa Children's Village in 2014.
You can give securely online by CLICKING HERE or send a check to:
Treasures of Africa Children's Home
P.O. Box 3267
Tustin, CA 92781
When the Christmas season winds down and January begins, the flurry of activity at Treasures of Africa is amazing to watch. The new school year in Tanzania starts in January and the preparation required to get all our children ready for school is intense. There are long lists of supplies to buy and uniforms to wash and a myriad of sizes of new school shoes to find.
The biggest excitement came on the first day of school when our five youngest children - Justice, Moses, Zoe, Diamond, and Maria (on the left) - started first grade. After participating in our in-house preschool program for three years, these six year olds were ready to step outside the gates of TOA and begin their academic journey. By faith, we enrolled them in a private English medium school in town, rather than place them in the overcrowded local government school, even though only one of the five had an education sponsor. The photo on the left shows them during the first week of school, still awaiting the uniforms the school had ordered for them. They were bubbling with excitement as they shared about their new experiences when they came home from school that first day.
This year we have chosen to move almost all of our children to private schools in order to obtain the best possible education. Only Antoni remains at the local government-run primary school by his own choice. We gave him the option to choose because he has only two years left in Primary School. If he had switched to the private school they would have required him to repeat his last grade, meaning it would be three years before he finished Primary School. And since his goal is to go to a vocational training school when he finishes Primary School, it seemed to be the best course of action for him to stay and finish out his two years.
With so many children in Private School this year - the need for school fees and other academic expenses at the orphanage has skyrocketed. A generous (and miraculous) end of the year donation provided the money we needed to get them all enrolled in school - and we are so grateful to God. But we need to pay the rest of the year's school fees in two more installments - so please pray for that to be provided.
Every private school requires that prospective students take an entrance exam and only a small percentage of those taking the exam are actually accepted to the school. Last year we were thrilled when Emmanueli passed the entrance exam to get into an exclusive Christian Boy's Secondary School called Living Stone Seminary in the coastal town of Tanga. He hada great year and came home with glowing reports of the school. This inspired Ray, our aspiring engineer, to want to apply to that same school. He took the entrance exam and passed with flying colors and is excited to begin his Secondary School career with his TOA "brother" Emmanueli.
Then we decided it might be best to have Innocent take the entrance exam for Living Stone also. He had already completed one year of Secondary School at a different Boarding School but we felt it was not the best environment. We wanted better for Innocent, who aspires to become an airline pilot one day.
Now it is important to understand Innocent's background to fully appreciate this story. Innocent was a hardened street kid when he came to live at TOA and almost got removed from Treasures of Africa for bullying the younger children. He could barely read a word and had spent little if any time at school. But by the grace of God, his heart softened and he literally was transformed as he accepted the love and discipline that was offered to him at TOA. He began to work diligently in school though his academic foundation was very shaky.
We prayed hard when Innocent went to Tanga to take that entrance exam at Living Stone. When the word came back that he had passed the test and was accepted to Living Stone the cheers went up! Now the three boys - Emmanueli, Ray and Innocent - are on the way to Boarding School together where we believe they will be well-prepared for leadership and future academic studies. Only Ray has an academic sponsor - so we are looking for sponsors who will help specifically with the education expenses of Emmanueli and Innocent.
If you would like to help Treasures of Africa by making a donation to the Education Fund - we will be thrilled to apply that gift to the school fees, uniforms, supplies and other academic expenses of our children. If you would like to sponsor a specific child's education costs - you can call the ministry office office at (714) 665-0407 and we can inform you of the amount for that particular child. Since our kids are at several different schools with some in Primary and others in Secondary School, some in Boarding School and others in Day School, the costs vary.
We are grateful to everyone who has prayed for our children's academic success and for those who have given financially. We believe that this year will be the best one yet for the kids at TOA!