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I like to watch how people use their hands. Hands are beautiful and expressive and most often they are used with grace. Fortunately, I have never seen anyone beat another human being or kill another person. Boxing has never been a “sport” in my book. Hands are for caring, for holding a baby, wiping a fevered brow, cooking and washing, making music and painting lovely pictures, writing, and receiving the Body of Christ at the Eucharist, and oh, so many other extraordinary things such as fixing a hurt toe. You’ll soon see where I am going with this.

Feet are on my mind right now. Perhaps it has to do with Jessie putting shoes on old Obadiah’s (Shamba’s) feet. I well -up with emotion when I think of that loving gesture, and I think of one of Jesus’ last acts before his crucifixion: he washed his disciples’ feet.

Jessie and I are in somewhat of a deja vu situation at the moment. Two years ago she had a bunionectomy and recuperated at our house for two weeks. We planned our funerals during that stay, crying and laughing, all at the same time with 3 dogs on her bed. My dog, James went to sleep with his head on the Prayer Book/Hymnal which I think makes him ready for confirmation. Jessie is back at the Bandy nursing home having had a toe shortened on Monday. The doctor told her that an extra long toe is an indication of intelligence, and then someone else told me it is a sign of royalty. I guess I’ll never hear the end of that. She was very brave and resisted any kind of sedative while they put 7 gargantuan needles into her foot and ankle to block the pain. Then she refused the Versed because she wanted to watch the entire procedure. No luck there ~ she was draped in everything but mosquito netting and couldn’t see a darned thing but she could hear the electric saw (bzzzz), and Dr. Strom heard from the other side of the drapes: “I want to see the bone that you remove.” She also wanted ME to see the bone which had to be left at the hospital. No body parts are allowed to leave the hospital. She was in pain walking to and from the Bishop Stanway Primary School in Africa but it didn’t slow her down, just as having a cracked rib didn’t slow me down. I kept that a secret because I knew people would worry. When you love what you do, pain seems irrelevant. It gives me joy to be able to care for Jessie as I know she would take care of me if I needed it. She’s a dear and beautiful friend and I wouldn’t take a million dollars for our friendship.

We have some other news that we hope will interest you. The Reverend Moses Matonya, priest and principal of the Msalato Theological College will be with us in Pinehurst shortly after Christmas. He will preach at St. Mary Magdalene’s Episcopal Church in West End on January 3rd at 9:30 a.m.. Many of you have donated generously to the college and the Bp. Stanway Primary School. We hope people from Emmanuel will come and also the good people from Christ Anglican Church in Southern Pines. The Reverend Robert Brown, Vicar at St. Mary Magdalene’s wants to throw the doors open to everyone. We might even sing the song that was sung daily at Lambeth: ALL ARE WELCOME. Please come and meet this wonderful man of God.

With Anna Franklin Smith’s skills we are working on our Power Point and hope to have it ready next week. Then we will take our show on the road to tell the story and to raise money for these struggling brothers and sisters. Dr. Paul Farmer writes in his book, “Mountains Beyond Mountains”: “Lives of service depend on lives of support.” We continue to need your help.

“I cried because I had no shoes, ’til I met a man who had no feet.” Please pray for all who are losing hands and feet in the war, pray for the people of Africa who have no shoes, and pray for Jessie as she mends.

As I eagerly wait for autumn, nay, yearn for chilly fog-bound misty mornings that will burn off later in the day leaving laser-like shafts of golden sunlight to pour through my windows making even old things look new, I think of Africa and their two seasons, the dry season and the wet season. I check the weather forecast in Dodoma every morning. It’s hot and sunny now with no signs of rain on the horizon. When they do get rain it is often too much or too little. For several years they have had too little leaving drought conditions which lead to famine. What will this “rainy season” bring I wonder to myself. The students will leave soon hoping to plant crops and to pray for rain that will make them flourish but there is no guarantee.

Schools used to shut down when our country was young so that everyone could help bring in the harvest. Planting and harvesting is a time-critical activity. Crops in Dodoma looked so withered and pitiful when we were there ~ a few stalks of corn, nothing like our tall waves of grain in Nebraska or Maryland. There are no irrigating systems in Dodoma; all they can hope for is rain from heaven.

In Matthew 9:35-10:4 Jesus says that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. He must not know about Dodoma. Has he overlooked that part of the world? Barbara Crafton always sees the metaphors in the bible and she says we miss that Jesus is speaking of urgency, not just that harvesting is a big job. This is what she says: “He’s not just saying it’s a big job. He’s saying it’s a big job that can’t wait another minute. You don’t have unlimited time to touch the lives you are called to touch in the course of your lifetime. The person before you may never be before you again, and you may never have another chance with her. You may never see him again. If someone is going to experience Christ by experiencing you, you’d better start now. As if there is no tomorrow. There may not be.”

There is an urgency about Africa and those I have come to love there. I cannot make it rain but I can try to make their lives known to you that in turn might make you feel we cannot wait another minute to give them aid.

While I was in Africa this past summer (their dry season) two friends of a lifetime died in Virginia. Yesterday, the husband of my friend Peggy Joyner who died suddenly after not being sick one day in her life, sent me a check for Karimu to honor her life. We are all called to enlarge the Kingdom, all called to help others. I’m soon to be 76 and my chances are diminishing. Soon I may need help too. But while I can I am committed to those who happened to be put on my path. They are people like Moses Matonya, Alex Mshoka, Daniel Fweda, Stephen Mnubi, who is being sponsored by a small church in Pinedale, Wyoming, little Hildar in Jessie’s school, Musa and Lidya, Joseph and Christant and Kilian ~ the list goes on and on. We met their families and ate at their tables. Little Sechee cried when we left. They are now part of Jessie’s and my family. Pray for rain for them and please help us to help them. Remember a little bit may stand between them and starvation.
Blessings to you this season of harvest.

Anglican churches all over America had pet blessings today (Oct. 4) commemorating the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. At Emmanuel Church, Southern Pines, we read from Genesis, the Psalms, and the Gospel of Matthew (Consider the lilies of the field). We sang: “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” Father John, caught unaware, stepped into horse manure but the blessings went on. Bishop Michael Curry who had been here all day to preach and confirm and to meet with the vestry graciously stayed an extra hour to bless our beloved animals ~ everything from dogs to iguanas. He knows James’ story and has his picture on his computer. He said something about finally meeting James, the dog that God sent me when I was in deep despair.

The dichotomy for me comes in knowing the condition of dogs and cats in Dodoma where Jessie and I just spent 7 weeks. The dogs and cats are starving and ravaged with mange and parasites and open sores. Jessie witnessed some in villages driving dogs off with sticks and clubs and she told them that was wrong ~ that dogs are part of God’s creation. We fed those who routinely came to our door ~ bread soaked in milk. Did we help or do harm? Part of me understands that feeding dogs and cats takes food from the children, but the other part of me says everything is topsy-turvy in this world. So many have asked how we are doing as far as re-entry into our culture and all I can say is that it is hard. We are caught in a tension that seems unfixable. Talking to my doctor last week (he also goes to Africa) I asked him what was the lure, what made us want to go back and back and back again. He said: “Maybe it gets us away from this crazy world in which we live.”

Albert Schweitzer wrote this prayer:
“Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put to death. We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion, gentle hands and kindly words. Make us ourselves to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessing of the merciful.” Amen

I’m going to bed with this prayer on my heart. Tally+

I’ve been reading about St. Francis tonight, how he renounced all material values, and devoted himself to serve the poor. Francis chose the name of the Order of Friars Minor to emphasize his desire to be numbered among the least of God’s servants.

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