Stirring Chai – the Msseemmaa newsletter as regional representatives in East Africa

by Daudi Msseemmaa

Kellen and I work with the East African companions in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania is a mother church with a history of missions in several neighboring countries: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, and Mozambique. It has 26 dioceses within Tanzania and two mission areas.

In our roles as ELCA Regional Representatives, we work with dioceses, national churches, faith-based organizations, and other missionaries in East Africa. Our job is to help the ELCA and its partners work toward the ideal of what companionship could be. We think of it like being ambassadors to the companions, and also advocating for the East African companions to the ELCA.

Since this is our very first newsletter, let me tell a little bit about who we are. The best way to describe Kellen is that she is an angel. She is the most generous person I have ever known. She is a passionate advocate for girls and is the founder of a program called Empowered Girls, that helps Tanzanian girls learn how to overcome the obstacles that society puts in front of them, and to make the learning process fun. She’s also an amazing wife and mother, a powerful preacher, and a role model for so many girls. She studied economics education, and she worked as a teacher in a Lutheran high school for some years. In the photo above, she’s the one on the right, and I am fifth from left.

I’m Tanzanian-American. I grew up in northern Illinois. My late father, Martin, was a social worker. He’s from Tanzania, where I have been living on and off for much of my life. My mother, Patricia, is a social worker, too. So is my younger sister, Nese, who lives in Iowa with her family.

I started working with faith-based nonprofits in 2006, especially in community development, education, and emergency response programs. That led me to working across eastern Africa and Asia, interacting with staff, partner churches and donors. I see the effects of oppression, and I am proud to be part of a church that shares the liberating power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Kellen and I started serving the ELCA as regional representatives in July 2019. We live with our children, pictured above, including some who joined our family more recently, in Arusha, Tanzania.