After doing a short-term mission trip to Romania, I Blowing bubbles in Tanzania!wanted to do more! I had heard so much about Africa growing up, and I think what drew me closer to the continent was the smiles of African people I had seen.

I knew I wanted to travel to Africa but I didn't know who to go with or what country to go to. I started to search for volunteering opportunities and stumbled on a place called Hostel Hoff in Tanzania. They were a secular charity which ran a range of projects and there were many I was interested in, including water and sanitation projects, work in a hospital, orphanages and schools.

This was my biggest adventure yet with God, and I was really blessed because my best friend from church wanted to come too, as she is a nurse and wanted to use her skills in the hospital. My intention for the three months I set aside was to serve God, use my gifts and share my faith.

I felt at peace with the decision to go to Tanzania and the trip was the most amazing experience. I was involved in teaching English to 3- to 6-year-olds for a month in a poor rural area. It took an hour to get there every day, walking and using the 'dala-dala' (a kind of bus service, but the size of a camper van). One day I had chickens on my lap, the next day a baby, and more often than not I had someone's vegetables on my lap that they were about to sell at the market! It was eventful and very hot, but a lot of fun and you never knew what to expect!

In the afternoons I helped at an orphanage. Playing football with the children, washing clothes by hand, blowing bubbles with the soapy water and seeing their smiles was the most joyful sight. The children didn't know their parents, yet they were the most content children I had ever seen. My church had given me pencil cases and toys to distribute to the school and orphanage, and it was heart-warming seeing their faces on receiving them. In the orphanage many believed in God, and that was the source of their radiant joy!

Having non-Christian volunteers working alongside me felt like my true 'mission field'. It was great to talk with them and get to know their stories, and in turn they listened to mine. There was one particular friend who asked me questions often and it was good to tackle some of these questions because some were challenging and didn't have easy answers. I think God gave me wisdom in how to answer in those conversations because one guy was really interested. I'm still in contact with him.

In the last two months I switched to a non-government school run by volunteers. This was for teenagers who had not passed their exams and were taken out of school. This project enabled them to come back, be educated and gain the knowledge to re-sit their exams to get back to school and gain qualifications. I loved this project and because I was there for a substantial amount of time I built good relationships. We were teaching English and maths. The language barrier was tricky but through the use of visuals we made it work!

During my time in Tanzania I had weekends where I climbed Kilimanjaro, saw beautiful waterfalls and went on a safari. I couldn't help but marvel at God's creation. Climbing up to the peak of Kilimanjaro we set off in the dark, after midnight. When we were nearing the top after five hours, I looked behind. It was pitch black and I remember looking at Kenya to my left and Tanzania to my right. The stars were out and there were twinkling lights down in the cities. It was dazzling. God had set every light in its exact place.

My time in Tanzania was what spurred me on in looking for opportunities to gain skills and knowledge to help further God's Kingdom. It's an amazing trip to look back on and I'm so thankful to God for the opportunity.

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