By Tysan  |  22 December 2017  | 

Many excited Adventist young people told Adventist Today that the East-Central Africa Camporee was “wonderful” and “magnificent” as the event came to an end. “I am happy to be here and I liked everything that happened here,” said Pretry from Kitungwa Adventist Primary School in Tanzania. “I am learning a lot.” Belekiss from Ruwanda said, “I wish more days could be added.”

A packed schedule with a wide variety of programs had been planned by a team led by Pastor Magulilo Mwakalonge, youth director for the denomination’s East Central Africa Division (ECD). He invited Adventist Today to send a reporter. “It was not easy” to organize such a large, week-long event with groups coming from several nations, said Teresa, one of the leadership team members. “But God’s blessing has been upon us.”

Camporee activities provided opportunities for the young people to take a number of Adventist Youth (AY) Honor classes. There was also a series of Bible studies on “Sola Scriptura; the Bible and the Bible alone,” the great principle of the Protestant Reformation which began 500 years ago. For Mwakalonge, the important goal was to encourage teens and young adults to stay in the church.

A key theme was “the Alive Bible.” This is the idea that each believer represents the Bible and scripture values to others in how they live their lives; how they treat others. Despite the packed schedule, “we are pushing ahead with all classes, those which will help with camping skills and living safely, as well as Bible classes,” said Pastor Samuel Michael, a conference youth director who coordinated AY Honor classes.

The Camporee had some challenges, Gerad Joshua, another leadership team member, told Adventist Today. “We have encountered insufficient water supplies and Pathfinders who find this area cold because they come from warmer environments in coastal regions, but the leaders have tried to sort it out” and come up with practical solutions.

International Travel Problems

Some of the groups that set out for the Camporee never made it. There was considerable unhappiness with Tanzania’s police, as Adventist Today reported earlier. Groups from Uganda, Kenya, the Congo and Burundi were blocked by demands to pay fees, etc. Emmanuel, who came with a group from the Southern Kenya Conference, told Adventist Today how they experienced traffic stops and strict inspection from the Tanzania police. “That is the reason we made it here late.”

Adventist Today interviewed some of police officers near the Camporee site and they said in Tanzania laws are enforced strictly. “Everyone should follow our road requirements,” said one officer who asked that his name not be published. Another officer added that visitors from outside the country are treated equally to citizens of Tanzania, and that’s the law.

As the Pathfinders were involved in parades and related activities, it has become apparent that the different nations have somewhat different styles of marching. When the Pathfinders from Rwanda marched it left some people laughing as they enjoyed the new approach, unlike what they had see before. Congolese Pathfinders had yet a different style with their hands and legs stretching long and loose, while Pathfinders from Kenya and Tanzania had much the same matching steps, a more conventional style.

Only two Ethiopian groups made it to the Camporee, coming with a Kenyan conference. They told Adventist Today that they were thankful to “be a part of the family” that gathered in Kibidula. They said many others who would like to be here could not make it because of the insurmountable challenges.

Community Action Projects

On Friday history was made as the Pathfinders engaged in community service projects; the first time this has been part of a Camporee in this part of the world. Some volunteered to help with cleaning at Mafinga District Hospital. Others did a clean-up project in the Mafinga public market. Others took donated items to Matanana Orphanage. Earlier, some had donated blood for the blood bank at the hospital.

In the public market Adventist Today interviewed many business people who praised the Adventist youth for “a wonderful surprise.” One taxi driver said he wished it was something that could happen every day because the environment was so improved due to the massive clean-up by the Pathfinders.

Adventist Today also visited the Mafinga District Hospital while the massive cleaning effort was underway. Hospital staff were pleased with the spirit of the volunteers and told Adventist Today the cleaning was done perfectly, including scrubbing floors, washing windows, trimming grass and bushes. Patients asked who were these workers and were interested to learn that they were Adventist youth volunteers.

Pastor Israel Mchome told Adventist Today that the volunteers were simply trying to do what Jesus would have done. “I have opted to join hospital team because that is the place people with physical and spiritual need are. But it doesn’t mean those who opted to go other place are any less demonstrating the way of Christ.”

Rehema Henry from Njiru Seventh-day Adventist Church in Arusha (Kenya) told Adventist Today that her group had a wonderful time visiting the orphanage. She said, “It was a wonderful experience to see children who live without biological parents surviving full of hope. I felt like staying there but you know I could not.” Matanana Orphanage has relatively few children, a total of 19, but most are living with HIV.

A Hope Channel Tanzania team, together with the North Tanzania Union Conference (NTUC) media department, have been covering all the Camporee events. They have given full support to the Adventist Today reporter throughout the event and expressed their joy at AT being a part of what was happening. Maduhu Emanuel, the team leader, Mang’ombe Jacob and the entire media staff had warm greetings and smiling faces as they worked with the Adventist Today reporter.

Abel Kenyongo from NTUC media and Carlos Ngonyani from Morningstar Television (part of the Hope Channel) recorded many interviews in the public market which attracted considerable attention. Crowds gathered and enjoyed suggesting questions for the interview team.

Sabbath Events

On Sabbath the congregation was in Pathfinder Club Class A uniforms. (See the photos with this story.) Friday evening Mwakalonge asked everyone to wear their uniform on the Sabbath. The next morning began with the worship service and Pastor Baraka Muganda, former General Conference youth director and now a vice president at Washington Adventist University in the United States, preached the “Sola Scriptura” theme. He said, “You will have to go through a lot [in the years ahead]. You will be tested in your faith. You will be rejected, frustrated, insulted and even tempted to give up. When that time comes, remember what you have learned here: that it is the Bible and Bible alone through which God will give you direction and comfort.”

After the Sabbath school there was a baptism for 300 to 400 of the young people. The Pathfinders who were being baptized and helping their friends with the service got into the water in their uniforms, which surprised some in the crowd. Mwakalonge, the camporee “General” led the way in his Class A uniform, followed by the other clergy who assisted with the many baptisms.

As this report was being written, Mwakalonge used Whatsapp to tell Adventist Today that the number was 300 baptisms, not the higher number originally announced. “And that is still an estimated number of at least 300. We are still working on the exact number.”

Whatsapp Group

The trip home for many of those at the Camporee took two to three days. To confirm that they got home safely, Adventist Today opened a Whatsapp group. Many people who talked with the AT reporter at the Camporee from the nations involved have shared their travel experiences. Adventist Today is thankful and pleased to know they all made it home safely.

“Thanks for adding me in this group,” wrote Pastor Rukundo, youth director for the Rwanda Union Conference. “We are praising God; we reached home safely, me and the whole team from Ruwanda.” Readers can communication with the East Central Africa Pathfinders on the SOLA SCRIPTURA Whatsapp group.

Mwakalonge told Adventist Today via Whatsapp, “Thank you for coming.”

Tysan is an Adventist Today correspondent from Africa.

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