Though he and his family live in extreme poverty in Tanzania, with dirt floors in their home and a tin roof that leaks during the heavy rains, no running water or electricity, Mgembe dreamed of being a teacher. His grades were good and he passed the difficult national test which determines entry into secondary school (high school).
We formed a prayer pact of sorts where we made his goal of becoming a teacher our joint endeavor. I prayed for Mgembe, and he promised to do his best to stay on track at school. His promise was sometimes difficult to keep because he suffers from recurring malaria, causing him to miss a great deal of school. In one letter, he told me that he feels "very lonely" when he is sick.
Mgembe has a strong faith in God, and his letters always contained Bible verses and prayer requests. He prayed for me, too, and it was apparent that his faith sustained him during the difficult days.
Imagine my sadness when I received a phone call from Compassion in May, 2012 informing me that he had left the program. All Compassion knew is that his family moved and Mgembe stopped attending the program. They heard of some vague problem within the family. I felt such sadness after believing that I would get to watch Mgembe grow up. Compassion allows children in Tanzania to remain in the program until they are 22 if they are on an academic path.
I missed receiving his twice monthly letters. I did not receive a final letter from him, enhancing my concern that some dire situation caused his decision to leave Compassion.
Four days ago, on January 15, 2013, Compassion called again with amazing news: Mgembe has returned to the program! The lady asked me if I wanted to resume his sponsorship, and I said, "yes, yes, yes!" I asked her if we could meet Mgembe along with our other four children on the March sponsor tour, and she said, "yes, yes, yes!"
Mgembe now has a backpack which must somehow fit into our already-stuffed luggage. I am having fun filling it with art supplies, school supplies, and other fun things. Nick was already extremely worried about how we were going to get our luggage from Lerna to Africa. We have some big, heavy suitcases packed already.
I really cannot believe that I am going to get to meet him. In one letter a couple of years ago, Mgembe told me that he would like to hear my voice. Well, I cannot believe that I am going to get to hear my Mgembe's voice.