In 2007 Dr. Steve Meyer, the founder of STEMM (Siouxland Tanzania Educational, Medical Ministries), spoke at Patti’s church and invited people to join him on a trip to Tanzania, East Africa. At that time, such a trip was impossible for her but the seed of “someday” was planted.
June of 2012, that “someday” became a reality as Patti winged her way to Tanzania. It was an amazing trip for a Midwestern, Iowa girl: staying at the STEMM Children’s Village (the orphanage in the village of Mbuguni), visiting people in hospice, working alongside hospital staff, and even going on a short safari.
God used that trip to deepen Patti’s faith, capture her heart for the people of Tanzania, and grow her appreciation for what He had allowed her to experience. Six months later in 2013, she found herself again boarding an airplane and heading back to Mbuguni. During that visit Patti totally fell in love with the ten children at SCV (STEMM Children’s Village).
Her friendship with Laurence, the young Tanzanian national who was the assistant in-country director for STEMM, strengthened. Laurence posed this question to Patti, “Would you consider starting a vocational training center with me here in Mbuguni?”
Laurence had the education, background, and heart to lead this proposed ministry. All he needed was help with funding, encouragement and a partner to share his dream.
Despite the language barrier, God had already transformed Patti’s heart to have a special place for the mamas and the kids of Tanzania. She had learned a little about the education system and could see that without learning some sort of trade skills, the young people would continue to be faced with poverty and difficult lives. Many simply could not succeed in traditional school settings due to malnutrition and other unavoidable issues. In future visits God continued to show Patti how desperately job training programs were needed.
The seed of the vision for NLF was planted in the souls of its two founders, one American and one Tanzanian. This unlikely pair became committed to explore the possibility of the NLF vision. They started with little: a simple calling and faith that God would guide and provide what was needed to accomplish the vision for a vocational school in this Tanzanian village.