Mangwanani, muli bwanji, habari yako. Three different greetings we learned for three different countries we were able to experience earlier this summer. We were blessed to serve and survey in the countries of Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Tanzania. We had a variety of rich experiences. God challenged us, encouraged us, grew us, and directed us. We could not have been more satisfied with the ministry God allowed us to participate in. And we could not have been more pleased with the outcome of our trip. We went to serve the nationals and missionaries of these countries, and also to survey each area as a potential landing spot for our future as missionaries. We acknowledge that God made our trip successful. And we are going to let you know exactly why we make that claim.
Let’s begin by speaking of pre-trip. It can be summed up in two words: content & chaotic. It was John’s last semester at Grace Bible College. His schoolwork kept him busy most nights, and even early mornings. During this time, Naomi was substitute teaching and keeping our living needs and space in order. We decided it would be good timing to plan our departure for Africa just three days after graduation, because that’s just the way we are. We spent our last month in Grand Rapids squeezing in time to prepare for Africa. We each had a couple of seminars to get ready. Naomi prepared gifts to give. John was lining up logistics. Let’s not mention packing for our trip to Africa and packing up our belongings to store during our trip as well. It was a chaotic time. With that being said, we were also content. God gave each of us peace. We knew this was exactly what He wanted us to be doing. And we knew this was exactly the right time He wanted us to be doing it. Well, maybe a week after John’s graduation might have made a little more sense.
Now to the trip. We want to share a few brief paragraphs about our experience in each country. Following that, in closing, we will share why we found this trip to be successful.
Throughout our time in each country we had many teaching opportunities and were able to spend time with some great people. Zimbabwe is the newest country that GMI is entering in Africa. Our highlight in ZIM was the meals. Not only was the food great, but the fellowship was something to remember. The grace church is ready to expand in that country. GMI missionaries Kennedy and Sophia Simtowe will be leading that church along with the national leadership. They will need someone gifted in the area of teaching and administration to join them. After this we traveled to Malawi.
We had many similar teaching opportunities in Malawi. We were blessed to stay with Bill and Sue Vinton who encouraged us and taught us as veteran missionaries. There was one Malawian in particular that we spent a few days with that stood out to us. He was a very humble and godly man, committed to whatever God would have for him and his family. One of our highlights was preaching and fellowshipping with the church he pastors, which was an adventure to even get to. We enjoyed the fellowship with all of the missionary families and nationals there.
We arrived in Mbeya, Tanzania, Naomi’s hometown, after Malawi. We were half way done with our trip and had seen two out of the three potential countries we might return to as missionaries. And we felt absolutely no direction. We started to think God might have sent us to Africa just to tell us to stay in America. We were kind of confused. But, that reality sunk in. And we truly became available and willing to whatever and wherever God might call us. That’s when He started directing us.
Before our trip, we ranked Tanzania as the least likely candidate out of the three countries for us to return to. We thought there were enough missionaries there already. And John was not fond of the idea of going to the same country Naomi’s parents ministered in years before. But, God had different plans.
We had a meeting with some of the leadership of the grace church in Tanzania. They were all very nice people whom we got along well with. And they certainly wanted us to be missionaries in Tanzania. But, there was something that God used during that meeting to capture our attention. The church has ambition to expand the church into new regions. They got to sharing their vision with us. And interestingly enough, their vision overlapped with ours. They wanted to expand into new areas, they wanted to plant churches, they wanted to reach cities rather than only villages. And they want to send some people in their churches to do just that. All areas we wanted to be involved in. This was very exciting. Almost immediately after this meeting, both of us were sure God was calling us to missions. And more specifically, we thought God was calling us to one of these new areas the church wanted to expand to. On our way out of the country, and as we came back to the States, we felt certain the area in which God was calling us.
We plan to do ministry in Northern Tanzania, in a city called Mwanza. This city is located in the region of Mwanza and is about 20 hours North of the current work of the grace church in Tanzania. Our goal will be to empower nationals to expand the church in this area. Evangelism will be our focus. With that being said, we will be closely involved in church planting and developing leaders along the way who will in turn make evangelism their focus and plant churches on their own. Mwanza is the second largest city in TZ and is growing at a rapid rate. We plan to take advantage of that. We also intend to reach nearby villages with the gospel as well. There are four countries within 8 hours of driving of the city of Mwanza, and a fifth a couple hours further. As missionaries sent from Africa to Tanzania, this excites us because we see the potential of missionaries sent from Mwanza, TZ to these bordering African countries. We are excited for all of the ministry that God has prepared for us. And we look forward to this next year making our ministry team in the States. We are looking for people like you to partner with in order to make this ministry possible. Please join in praying with us for these ministry plans and for peoples lives around the world to be transformed.
John & Naomi Caprari are GMI’s newest missionaries! We are thrilled to welcome this godly team aboard what GMI is doing around the world. They are gifted, talented, and passionate people with vision and purpose. They will be used mightily by the Lord in Mwanza. If you would like to read their full Bio or learn more about their ministry or GMI, please visit http://www.gracem.org/web/?page_id=3418