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You might ask  that question if you are ever in Tanzania.  Is it because they bear names such as: “God is Great, Jesus Loves You, Sir God or Power of God? ”  Could they be trying to invoke God’s protection as they dash around the rutted and crowded roads of  Tanzania?  If you ever ride one you surely will ask for divine help in getting you to your destination.  One was named: “Road Warrior” but someone with a macabre sense of humor called it: “Road Worrier.”

It is said that pictures are worth more than a thousand words but not in this case, although we have pictures coming your way.  No picture can really convey the experience of riding a Dala-Dala.  You can go on-line and see pictures of them and they look pretty decent.  Would you put a picture of your jalopy on You Tube if you had a Jag in the garage?  We rode them a couple of times and later learned that one of the experienced teachers at Msalato who has been there for years said she rode one once and that was enough.

For your information the word (s) Dala-Dala in Kiswahili slang means five because it used to cost the equivalent of 5 cents to ride one.  Now it is about 19 cents.  Mostly they are Toyota mini-vans resembling the old VW buses of the 60’s.  Everything has been stripped out of them so they can cram as many seats in as possible, usually wooden benches and a few vinyl-covered seats.  No seatbelts,  of course.   Upon boarding, the first thing you notice is the smell ~ a mixture of sweat, worn vinyl, dust, oil and leaded gas.  You are instantly aware of the  heat from the crush of people ~ there is no personal space whatsoever ~ knees touch and half of your derriere might hang off the wooden bench.   The riders looked stunned to see two old muzungus (whites) get on but they hospitably shifted their positions to allow us a space to squeeze in.  On occasion young men gave us their seats.  For those of you who have ridden the New York subway these little vehicles are even more crowded, but there is a friendly atmosphere, not the indifference that you often encounter in N.Y.C.  Looking around we noticed hanging bits of cloth from the headliner of the bus, peeling vinyl from the side panels, rusty sliding doors, and wobbly seats about to come unmoored if indeed they were ever anchored in place.  There is a driver and a conductor.  It’s a show to watch the conductor who has a many-faceted job.  He hangs out the open door and raps and bangs on the side of the bus to make noise so those waiting will know we are coming ~ the dust that is being  kicked up must not count.  He takes the money, makes change ,  (sometimes going into a shop along the road to get change),  calls out stops and can always manage to get a few more passengers with their packages on board ~ bundles of rice, corn, oranges and sugar cane.  There’s no way on God’s green earth that these buses would pass inspection in the United States ~ let’s  say they are well-used.

With the need for food and clean water and adequate medical care it may seem frivolous to want to get a safe bus for the children at Bishop Stanway, but without education there is no hope for this country.  These are bright students and the future of Tanzania.  It seems like a lot of money but we are learning that with  a little bit here and a little bit there the money adds up.  Please think about this and let us know what you think about this new goal.  We think that when you see the faces of the children your hearts will be opened and you will feel as we do.

Jessie and Tally

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While our children ride in the yellow bus, the children in Dodoma are walking or riding in dolla-dollas, some of which look like the one below.  Most  are smaller and are supposed to hold 14 people, but usually cram in 24 + people.  They are very dangerous, and unreliable.  They not only wouldn’t pass inspection in this country, most don’t pass inspection in Tanzania.  Tally and I have ridden in busses which when approaching a weigh station, let off people so they won’t be overloaded.  Then, further down the road another bus drops them off where they reboard.  This crazy system took us a while to figure out, where the second bus, or truck came from we didn’t know.  They probably just do that, pick up over loaded passengers, ferry them past the weigh station and then go back to pick up the next  busses overage.  So, we are starting a fund raising campaign to buy the first bus for the school.  We will need about 60 thousand dollars, this will include the bus, insurance, training for the driver in not only driving, but repair and maintenance of the bus.  The current “system” is that the parents pay a transport fee, then the school has to hire the dolla dollas.  They charge more than the parents pay and the school has difficulty carrying this cost.  But the worst thing is that they are not safe or reliable.  The parents will contribute to the school bus fund, this will make it their bus, rather than a gift from afar only.  So, would you like to buy a seat, a wheel, door, window, part of the bus, part of the training for the driver???  We hope so, am hoping we can raise the amount to take to the school when we go in August.  I will be having a fund-raising art show in New York in June, and of course, our now annual art show at St. Mary Mag’s in May.  We hope you will do what you can to help obtain a bus for the school  Asante,  Jessie & Tally

Lest you think this is like our flu bug  ~ it isn’t ~ it is what our travel agent says that we have ~ the African Bug.  His name is Marc Kupper and if you ever need a travel agent who has been all over the world (many times), who supports a family in Senegal and who really looks after his clients, we recommend him wholeheartedly.  We have made our airline reservations  for our third trip to Dodoma.  We leave on July 28.  When Marc called yesterday his first words were:  “Are YOU really going back?”  And then he laughed.  “You both have the African Bug” and then we talked for an hour about the lure, the desire to go back over and over again.  People wonder why we don’t go to Haiti.  Would we leave one dying child to go to another?  We are connected now to our friends and family in Tanzania.  We will grow where God planted us for as long as we can. 

Thanks be to God, Moses is much better and is back at work at the college after being very ill with not only malaria but typhoid ~ diseases we don’t even think about in America.  Sandy writes that it is green and lush at the college but that many of the nearby villages have not only suffered from lack of rain but army worms  have destroyed entire crops ~ crops that had had several plantings due to not enough rain and then too much rain.  Sandy also wrote about the father of Ayuba (a student) who suffered a stroke while in the hospital with malaria.  She pointed out that this is a huge tragedy there because there is no physical therapy and he will be taken home to lie on a mat for the rest of his days with the women caring for his every need, as if they didn’t have enough to do walking miles to fetch water and firewood each day.  Could it be that the care they give their elders, their villagers, their families  is what draws us back to their culture?  Their sense of community and doing unto others is strong and pervasive and of course necessary. 

Pendo’s husband is making bricks out of mud with money that we sent from Karimu to rebuild their home destroyed by the heavy rains.  Remember Pendo means love in Kiswahili.  Thank you for your love for those you likely will never meet or know.  We will bring pictures of Pendo’s home this time to give you a sense of what YOU did for her.

It is Lent, a time to examine our lives and souls.  Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun writes:  “Humility, real humility, demands that we hold only to give and that we gather only to share.”

Tally and Jessie

Many of you had to opportunity to meet Moses Matonya when he came to visit after Christmas. He is home now and very ill with Malaria. Malaria causes clinical illness in an estimatd 300 to 500 million people every year and cause l.5 to 2.7 million deaths per year.

When we go to Africa, we take Malarial medication, but this kind of medicine is strong and cannot be taken all the time, so people who live in that part of the world just have to “get by”. It is an awful illness, it does a real number on the liver, infects the red blood cells causing them to burst open and release more infection. Am not sure what they treat Malaria with, but am sure Moses is on some sort of strong medication. In the old days I remember my Mother saying they took quinine (she lived in the West Indies for a number of years). A big problem is that many mosquitoe parasites are resistent to the drugs used to cure. Please say a prayer for Moses, we will keep you posted on his progress. Other news we wrote about was the collapsing of roofs due to rain, see attached photo of local woman’s house we used to pass on the way to Bishop Stanway.

Have we not all at one time or another asked ourselves what we would grab if our house were on fire and we had only minutes to get out?  Spending early morning time today with the Daily Office and reading Barbara Crafton’s meditation left me pondering these words from Hebrews:  “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have…….. ”   What do I value the most in my house?  What would I try to save?  Well, of course, I would see that Claude was out and certainly James, but what material things would I want?  I sat in my favorite chair for quite some time looking around my office, “The Room of My Own,” and I like everything in it ~ my computer, books, leather chair, baskets from Africa,  an animal skin and a batik of women in Africa with baskets on their heads, pictures of my children and loved ones, a beautiful table that belongs to Jessie ~ very little of which I could take with me.  And what does all this have to do with Karimu and Tanzania?  I’ll try to tell you.

Along with preaching this coming Sunday in Wilkesboro, NC (Diocese of Western North Carolina) I’ll be sharing the Adult Forum time with a woman who is preparing for ordination to the diaconate.   She will talk about our vows and I will tell of some of my experiences as a deacon.  All of which has sent me back to the Ordination of a Deacon.  Some key words said by the bishop are: “You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world……and at all times, your life and teaching are to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless they are serving Christ himself.”  The bishop also reminds us that we are to serve ALL people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely.

Now with television and the world wide web I hardly need to tell  you the needs of the world and I no longer have a church but I think it helps to hear it first-hand from someone who has been there and has seen it with their very eyes.  As we have said over and over, it is shocking to see the poverty ~ it will break your heart.  I read once that a broken heart is a whole heart.  These are God’s children.   Teyva said to God:  “You must love poor people because you created so many of us.”

By the grace of God Jessie and I went to Africa ~ it could have been Costa Rica, Botswana, Haiti, Appalachia, anywhere in the world, but it was Tanzania and it is important now for us to help the people that we know.  “Bloom where  you are planted” goes the saying.  We hope by “telling our story” your hearts will be touched and you to will want to help.  If you have ideas about money- raising projects, please tell us.  Jessie will have two benefit art shows, one in New York and one at St. Mary Magdalene’s Church in Seven Lakes  in the spring and early summer.  She is painting like mad.

We have already heard from Sandy back now in Africa ~ they were without power when she returned, hence no internet but she was able to go into an internet cafe in Dodoma to let us know she was back safe and sound, minus her luggage containing computers and $300.00 worth of ink cartridges and personal belongings.   In this case personal belongings that were important for the schools.  We sent money back with her from our Karimu account to help in rebuilding Pendo’s home that was damaged in the torrential rains, and money for rice.   Pendo means Love in Kiswahili.  Our second newsletter is out.  If you did not receive one please send us your e-mail or call us. 

Looking around one more time at things I cherish and value ~ these are what I would try to grab if my house were on fire ~ my seven paintings by Jessie Mackay. 

 

This is mostly to see if we now can add a picture to a blog entry but also it is to share with you this heart-touching picture of Daniel with Miss Liberty in the background.  If you can, put  yourself in his shoes.  Daniel had never flown before, had seen nothing but dusty roads and small villages.  Now he has flown to the United States, experienced Virginia seminary, and was hosted by his sponsoring parish in New York City.  He is now safely home in Dodoma.  Daniel and his wife Karen came to have tea with us  in our little duplex this past summer and it was he who asked why we didn’t pray over our tea and cookies.  With red faces we muttered something about not saying grace at tea time.  He reminded us that they give God thanks for a glass of water.  One’s perspective changes and is still changing.  We took Moses to Greensboro on New Year’s Eve day to meet with Bishop Marble.  After our meeting he took us all to his favorite restaurant there.  When we began to eat someone asked:  “Are we not going to bless the food.”  The bishop said he is picky about that ~ that the food was already blessed, that everything is blessed.   “Then what are we to do,” we asked.   Oh, yes ~ we give thanks or as some say, “we return thanks.”  Our lesson for today that you probably already knew.

Now let’s see if we learned our computer lesson this morning!

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