CCT Staff Retreat
“He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.” A Chinese proverb goes. I doubt if any of the CCT staff will be opposed to this ancient wisdom. After having four days away from office: two days for travelling, one for spiritual reflection and sports, and another for hiking; it is not the same!
For the past few years CCT has been offering its staff a short break for both meditation and reflection. With focus on rejuvenation and building team spirit, the General Secretary Rev. Dr Leonard Mtaita has always expressed to his team the need for moving forward with both physical and spiritual wellbeing. The last two retreats have seen staff travelling to Lushoto and Karatu (Ngorongoro).
On the 4th of March 2015 the compass pointed to the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest free standing mountain in the world, to Moshi in Kilimanjaro. Although the journey of about 650 km is not a short driving distance, it was notwithstanding interesting, especially for them that enjoy travelling. It took about 9 hours including a few stops for lunch and other necessities.
ELCT Northern Diocese’s Uhuru Hotel had been prepared for accommodation. Of course for those who have been at the place would for sure know why. Apart from serenity of its surroundings and beautiful gardens, the services offered by the hotel are categorically of international standards. Well, it is not an alternative to Holiday Inn, but the place is quite a regular to tourists going for Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti or other tourist destination in the north of Tanzania. Moreover the place is home to CCT since it belongs to a CCT member Church.
After a short service at the chapel within the facility and a little housekeeping the first day was over but the retreat had just started.
The next day was very rich: a Bible reflection from a seasoned preacher, retired Rev. Looka Mushi and an afternoon in sports. But before all that we were welcome by the message from the Bishop of ELCT Northen Diocese, Bishop Dr. Fredrick Shoo was represented by his Assistant Rev. Elingaya Saria. After an introduction to the diocese and a warm welcome from our hosts it was time for the word.
For the year 2015 CCT reflects on Joshua 24: 14-15
14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Rev. Looka Mushi took his audience through an in-depth reflection from Moses to Joshua on how God has appointed and anointed his people to serve his purpose. He anchored his argument on faithfulness to God – choosing to serve him against other ‘gods’. Faithfulness, as he put it, is cross-cutting; but some issues like faithfulness in money and sexuality must be addressed much more explicitly! He also insisted that CCT staff to be careful not to be led by people they lead into failures (Moses was angered by the people; Aaron was forced to build idols by the people as well). Joshua’s example of being able to differ from the masses by being faithful was the commended example: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
A short session by National Social Security Fund (NSSF) was also very insightful in terms of understanding how pension schemes operate as well as the new changes introduced in Tanzania with effect from 1st of July 2014.
It is a popular opinion that one of the most interesting parts of the retreats was the afternoon sports; especially football, sack race and tug o’ war (rope pulling). Almost each staff had a spot in one of the teams. All staff were split into two groups and each group formed the needed teams. Winners were happy and losers had a lot to say; but all cherished the moments.
More Sports Pics, click to magnify:
When had been said and done, it was a new day and time to climb the Kilimanjaro. Of the five routes we had chosen Marangu, alias Coca-cola route. As one tour guide put it when asked the reason for the alias, he said “Don’t you see it, it is easy some other routes are named after harder drinks!” Anyway, the route derives its name from the times when coke was sold along the route. Marangu route is the easiest route especially for inexperienced climbers and day hikers. The route starts at the altitude of 1879m asl at Marangu Gate climbers had to walk for 8km while ascending to Mandara huts at 2720m asl.
One could hardly foresee the excitement the people had during the hike. Although people were getting tired with the distance, the desire for accomplishment was growing. It seemed like each one desired to be able to tell the story. Eventually everyone made it through the first half of the hike. Finally as people ascended vegetation changed from lush rain forests to montane forest and there was the feeling of being somewhere else, now that it was a sunny and dry day the views were beautiful and the air was extremely fresh, so far. All the sudden out of nowhere there was Mandara hut! Although at this point most climbers had spread into smaller groups, all people that departed from the half point station made it to the top at their own pace.
Faces could tell how people felt good about God’s creation, themselves and the trek at large. The sense of accomplishment hang everywhere, jokes and laughter were in full. It was simply enjoyable. Photos and selfies all around, in groups and in solos, every collectable memory was given a proper treat.
In a mysterious way most climbers saw the need to come again. Not for Mandara hut, but the Uhuru Peak itself. Be it for a cause or otherwise, the next challenge should be the ultimate one! The day was over as people descended and boarded into cars for journey back to the Hotel. Next morning all people got into their cars for journey back to Dodoma partly tired from the climbing feat, but all together rejuvenated.
We thank God for that offer to CCT Staff and also to those partners who contributed to meet some costs of this important event.