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We received an e-mail from Kate Mato, a missionary from New Zealand and head of the English department at Msalato.  Her words were very encouraging about the program and we would like to share them with you. 

“I am happy to give you an update on the class.  The first teacher, Helen, has returned to the UK after a wonderful farewell organized voluntarily and with secret rehearsals.  The students organized songs, prayer and drama which they presented in their limited English.  It was lovely.  The second teacher, Peta, was there and was welcomed politely but now she is really in her stride and has the ladies even changing seats and sitting next to different students for group activities.  HOW RADICAL!  At first the ladies were uneasy about this, but their confidence is growing.  Peta is amazed at their lack of life experience but as you know women lead very different lives here.  The ladies are very happy and willing students.  The roll of 15 continues to be full with very few absences.  We are now starting to see that there are a few students who are very quick to pick up new concepts and it’s possible that a couple could go on to train as teachers.  What a wonderful opportunity you have given these women.”    

Women have been so marginalized in Africa and to think they are now learning the language that has become the official language of Tanzania makes my heart leap for joy. 

Moses wrote that when he encounters other women in town they want to know why they were not chosen for the class.   With a grant to continue the classes next year more and more women will be empowered to study, to get jobs, to use the internet, and to participate in their husband’s ministry by educating the villagers in matters of health and the importance of education.  Normally, in Africa if there is money available for education, it is the men who are given first choice.  We are thrilled that Karimu is enpowering women and letting them know and believe they are not second class citizens!   I have a large smile on my face.

See the photos below of the women going to their first class. You cannot see, but they had drums and were singing with joy. Something bizarre happened to the post I wrote with the photos below, it never materialized, so I will repeat what I wrote: We will try to attach an email from Kate Moto which tells about the class and how the women are doing. The grant has been renewed for next year, so the program can continue. Thank you all for your help and support.

in the class

going in to first day of English Class singing and drumming

Lest you think from Jessie’s last entry that I have been off to Canada just eating and drinking (although I was indeed wined and dined and felt like Queen-for-a Day only Queen for 5 days) I was there primarily to preach at a beautiful historic church in Niagara-on-the Falls, Ontario and to present our newest Power Point show of our last journey to Tanzania.  I won’t give you the figure yet about the money raised for Tanzania because they are still counting it and Randy Legallais still has some contacts to make of those who said they wanted to contribute.   I have a picture of me with the rector of St. Mark’s, Father Bob, to prove that I was working although I never felt that deaconing was working, but have not downloaded my pictures yet.  Fr. Bob presented me with Walter Brueggaman’s newest book and also a CD of a talk by John Dominck Crossan (no doubt you have seen him on TV) AND the most gorgeous framed painting of their church on a snowy day,  something to be cherished for the rest of my days.

The Legallais’ who spend part of the year in Pinehurst and the other at their beautiful home in Ontario had a lovely dinner party for me with 20 members of their church.  One very kind guest arranged for me to light Niagara Falls one evening.  It was an eery feeling to go into an  inner sanctum of the gentleman who has lit the Falls for 27 years.  Posted signs were almost scary reading:  “High Voltage ~ Do not Enter.”  I felt as if I was going to meet the Hunchback of Notre Dame ~ his interior domain is high up over the Falls filled with old clippings about those who went over in barrels ~ who survived and who didn’t.  There are record books about the place and I noticed a half-eaten banana.  It’s his sanctuary.  But then one sees a huge computer panel marked with colored buttons ~ it is from there that the colors are changed.  First he took us outside (like being on top of Notre Dame) ~ what a sight ~ the Falls way down below and  hundreds of ant-sized people waiting for the spectacular show (8:30 p.m. until midnight).  Enormous spot lights are directed to the American side and the Canadian side.  Then the keeper of the lights invited us inside and let us punch the buttons ~ any color we wanted.  It’s the most control I have ever had over anything!  Imagine, a small-town deacon there to tell the story of Jessie’s and my involvement with the people of Tanzania, controlling the flood lights on Niagara Falls!

I’m back in the States staying with Jessie’s sister in Connecticut while she is being “artist-in-residence” at one of her colleges in Massachusetts.  It’s nice to have time to read, reflect on Karimu, look into more grants, and to do some writing.  Sometimes I feel as if I have had many lives and this is the newest.  Bishop Curry says this is real deacon’s work ~ bringing the church to the world and bringing the needs of the world to the church.  I was even privileged to take Holy Communion to a friend of Jessie’s sister who is in a rehab facility and I look forward to meeting Father Nicholas here in Fairfield.  So I am still a deacon even though retired.  Go figure.

Bless all of you who continue to read our blog and share our hopes and dreams for our friends in Tanzania.

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