You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.

I know, this blog is about Tanzania, but it is about humanity too. I’m learning a lot from my friends in Africa, a lot about the goodness of God and the ability to thank God rather than question Him or Her. Among other things, here is something I have learned in Tanzania ~ NOTHING IS TOO LITTLE TO GIVE ~ NOTHING.

We are all dazed by the news from Port Au Prince and there are many ways we can help. Michael Curry recommends ERD earmarked Haiti but there are myriad ways and since I know how generous you are for our work in Tanzania I know that you will open your hearts to the people there in such devastation and sadness.

God bless you all.
Tally and Jessie

Books would define my decor ~ an interior decorator’s nightmare I suppose. It’s like being surrounded with friends that I love and if I knew everything in every one them I’d be a pretty smart cookie. As you might expect there are many theology books, lots of books on prayer. Bibles and books ON the Bible. It is a much more extensive library than the one at Msalato Theological College.

As Jessie and I prepare to go to Alexandria, Virginia tomorrow to see Sandy McCann before she returns to Africa and to see Moses, Daniel, Stephen, Venuce and Daudi (our African friends) I am beginning to pack an army duffel bag with gifts from many of you. Clergy shirts and collars, sweaters from Emmanuel’s Thrift Shop, 3 laptops that were donated, money for Pendo who lost her home in a recent deluge and a beautiful Prayer Book/Hymnal, an unheard of luxury in Dodoma. I am so touched by this gift from Dick Molvin whose wife, known to many of us, Bobbie, died a few months ago after a courageous and long battle with cancer. Dick called me the other day and wanted to donate Bobbie’s Book of Common Prayer/Hymnal to someone in Africa. At the moment it is lying on a pass-through between my entrance foyer and the living room. Since getting it yesterday I have walked by it probably a dozen times, maybe more, and each time I stop and think of the generosity and love behind this gift. “Wouldn’t YOU like to keep it,” I asked Dick. No, he wants it to be of use to someone in Africa who never in their wildest dream could imagine owning a Prayer Book/Hymnal. It moves me that the book that Bobbie held in her hands and held close to her heart when she served as a Euchristic Minister will now be in use in Africa. We Episcopalians are people of a Prayer Book ~ it “guides our private prayer and is the source of our theology” writes Leonel Mitchell in a book I had in Deacon’s School. There is a Latin maxin: “lex orandi lex credendi” which means that the way we pray determines the way we believe. Our Prayer Book continues to shape my life. Goethe wrote that “we are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” There were a few prayers and papers in Bobbie’s book ~ Dick left them there. I suppose I will too, words to be read by someone in a faraway country. They are too many to share in this blog but pasted on the first inside page of the book are these words from 2 Timothy. “I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith.” It would seem that Bobbie has not finished her course. On earth, yes, but in heaven, no. Bless her, bless Dick and bless all of you faithful readers.
Tally and Jessie

To each of us is given the occasional burning bush or mountain top experience.  Sometimes we don’t even recognize it but other times we feel a deep shift deep in our soul.  I am not even sure we have to be attentive.  Most often they just happen and we are surprised but we know it is of God.

My husband Claude wanted to go to his home parish today. I didn’t. Something was pulling me to St. Thomas’ in Sanford or St. Mary Magdalene’s in Seven Lakes. Up until the last minute I didn’t know which way my car would go ~ north or south.  There was some freedom in going wherever the Spirit led me. To make a long story short, I went south to St. Mary Magdalene’s not knowing that they were celebrating their 30th anniversary, not long in the Episcopal Churches’ history in North Carolina.  Emmanuel is well over 100 years’ old and St. Thomas’ is even older. But this sweet-spirited mission church is committed to growth and to serving God by serving others.  What came as an even greater surprise was Father Bob’s sermon.  He spoke lovingly of  The Reverend Moses Matonya’s visit to St. Mary Magdalene’s last Sunday with his message of “love and thanksgiving.” Bob also read an e-mail to Jessie and me from Moses written when he reached Virginia Theological Seminary last Sunday evening. When he arrived they had already eaten their evening meal but Moses had in his possession a small gift given to him by someone at St. Mary Magdalene’s ~ something wrapped in blue paper that he clutched in his hand as he signed his book and as he talked at their Coffee and Contemplation time after the service.  None of us, other than the giver knew what was in the small package.  Moses wrote: “Thanks be to God because I have the cake I was given at the church I am eating it before I go to bed.”  He closed his e-mail with these words: “I truly enjoyed so much my stay with you. You have so nice hearts you ladies and God bless you richly. You will always remain in my heart and I will NEVER EVER forget the care and love you and your people (St. Mary Magdalene) gave me.”  Bob said that a simple gift of cake, wrapped in blue paper became Moses’ Sunday supper and that God’s grace transformed that tiny gift into an abundant meal of love.”  He went on: “Can’t you just see Moses’ smiling face as he ate his gift of love, and remembered with fondness and thanksgiving the people of St. Mary Magdalene Church? Can you have any doubt that God was smiling too? Can you ever doubt that God was well pleased?”  By then tears were coursing down my cheeks; Bob was crying and the congregation was in the same boat. We all felt the grace of Moses’ visit.  After the service Bob said to me that now that Moses has gone from this place that it is not unlike the lovely fragrance of incense after it has burned out when there is nothing left but ashes. That is the way we feel about Moses Matonya.  His loveliness is still here with us. I am deeply moved by his visit, his faith, his trust and his way of always finding reason to give God thanks.

I learned later this afternoon that due to heavy rains the young sister of Seche who cleaned, washed and baked bread for Jessie and me lost her home yesterday when it collapsed due to heavy rains.   Pendo which means love in Kiswahili has two small children and I want to help her in any way we can. She works for Sandy and Martin McCann.  If any of you readers would like to help don’t forget Karimu. We will see Sandy next week just before she returns to Tanzania.  We will give her what we have to aid this young and good family. Rain is fickled over there ~ it is not enough or it is too much. Even so I am sure Moses will give thanks to God.

Pendo's Little Girls

My parents used to call it “Old Christmas.” The tree and all the decorations stayed up until January 6th, The Feast of the Epiphany, when we commemorate the manifestation of Christ by a star to the Gentiles. Since the Magi or the Wise Men were not of the Jewish Church the message of Epiphany is to send the light of the Christian faith to those who are not of the Church throughout the world. The Wise Men were the first to know of the divinity of Jesus.

The word Epiphany means “revealing” or “showing forth.” I’ve thought a lot about it the last few days especially as I packed up the creche and boxed the baby Jesus and his mother, Mary Mild, in tissue along with Joseph and the shepherds and their flock. Can they keep watch by night in a cardboard box and will Jesus remain the light of the world in the darkness of today’s culture? I told a friend today that I am feeling old ~ not physically or mentally, although I have senior moments too often especially when it comes to names. But at 76 I AM old and entitled to brain cramps and even generational differences. I try to keep an open mind about change and new ways. I want to believe in the goodness of humankind as did Anna Frank.

I love the movies ~ always have and some are so darned good these days. “The Blind Side” was a lovely film that left me feeling good and hopeful about the human race. Even the science-fiction film “Avatar” in 3-D no less, had a good moral when all was said and done. I saw another film the other day: “Up In the Air,” another engaging film or so I thought at the time. Certainly it was handsomely cast and trendy, and there were some good laughs and some bitter tears, so was it a good film? I don’t know. I guess the sexual freedom bothered me and the language. What has happened to the sacredness of relationships and the elegance of words? I don’t want to give away the plot because some of you will see it and it will probably win some academy awards. I didn’t NOT like it, but it has stayed with me long enough to make me feel old.

At a small clergy covenant group yesterday morning we talked about the joy of having Moses Matonya in our homes for 5 days. He had dinner with and stayed the night with The Rev. and Mrs. Bob Brown (Vicar of St. Mary Magadelene’s that has so richly embraced Jessie’s and my mission to Tanzania). It delights us that they call us their personal missionaries. Bob said that his wife asked after Moses left for Virginia Theological Seminary on Sunday: “Do you feel our house has been blessed by Moses’ coming?” “yes,” he said, “it was the highlight of Christmas for me.” Moses blessed our homes for 5 days and nights and I felt the same way and commented in my blog entry about him that the sunshine of his smile seems to radiate throughout my home. He was as comfortable and genuine at Jessie’s High Tea on New Year’s Day as he would be in a hut in his mother’s village. His steadfast faith and trust in the baby born in Bethlehem has affected me deeply ~ revealed to me that God is not contained in a cardboard box and put away until next Christmas. Walking James (my precious dog) yesterday morning, January 7th, the waning moon was still hanging in the cold sky and down the street there was an outdoor tree that was still aglow with lights and I felt peaceful and joyful and thankful for Moses and all the people of Tanzania that we have come to respect and love and admire. Moses was an Epiphany for me. God bless you dear readers. Journey on to follow the star.

Moses may have parted the Red Sea but The Reverend Canon Moses Matonya, dean of Msalato Theological College in Tanzania came to Pinehurst, North Carolina and for 5 days shared with many of us his love for and his unfailing trust in God, in spite of living in a hard land with grueling poverty. I’ve tried to think of a word to adequately describe Moses ~ one really isn’t enough ~ but AUTHENTIC comes first to mind. There are others ~ loving, happy, intelligent, warm, man of God ~ the words are endless.

He had been in the U.S. once before with his wife Ruth. Then he stayed in an apartment in Georgia during his year there. This time, he has stayed in private homes and he commented on how nice it was for him to see how Americans live and never with any sound of envy or admonition that we have such an abundance of everything. I was embarrassed for him to see all the clothes in the guest room closet and Jessie said that maybe he didn’t know that I had other full closets! I have to tell you, this great man did the breakfast dishes each morning at my house.

To briefly sum up his time with us for those of you who did not meet him, he spoke at the Country Bookstore in Southern Pines and graciously signed his book: “Real Power: Jesus Christ’s Authority Over the Spirits.” Jessie and I have a few copies if any of you are interested in having one. We drove to Greensboro to meet with Bishop Chip Marble and The Reverend Leon Spencer who spent a great deal of his ministry in Africa. This was New Years’ Eve Day and Bp. Marble was very gracious to take us all to lunch at his favorite place on what was a day off for a bishop. He too is a great man whose passion is anti-racism and truth and reconciliation.

Moses saw the movie, Avatar in 3-D and liked it. I was afraid it would be too violent for him but it had a good message. He had already seen Invictus about Mandela.

Moses looked at a lot of football with Claude and tried to figure it out ~ he said he just about “got it.”

The Reverend Bob Brown, Vicar of St. Mary Magdalene’s hosted Moses on Saturday night and then we were all blessed by Moses’ preaching the next day at St. Mary Magdalenes. He later answered many questions at their “Conversation and Coffee Hour.”

Jessie and I put him on a plane later Sunday afternoon for Washington, DC where he will be the guest of Dean Ian Markham at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria for 4 weeks. He will be translating his book from English into Kiswahili and having some respite from his work in Dodoma.

I for one still feel the warmth of his smile in my home and Jessie and I feel very connected with him, his family and his people. Pray God we can return next summer for what has given me a rich blessing and a new direction in life.
Oh yes, he ate black-eyed peas on New Years’ Day. Maybe a silly tradition, but one that I hope brings him good health and good fortune in 2010.

Thank you all who came out to meet him and to hear him preach. What a message he gave us all.

Visit Our Photo Gallery:

Recent Blog Posts