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We have heard that our friends have returned to the thirsty soil, with heavy hoes and their last remaining seeds. The rain has returned. For those who were not seduced by the first rains, there are precious seeds for sowing. My imagination pictures this work:  Men and women, often with babies wrapped to their backs with Kangas, labor with hoes so heavy – crude implements – big, iron-bladed, with teeth on one end to brake the surface of the crusty earth – rough, thick, long handles…my back aches just thinking about it. For them, it means they still may be time to grow their food for the next year, for by now, their grain bins are almost empty.

Praying for the rain

I am a New Englander, extremes resonate within me: Wind, rain, heat and snow. The pendulum swings, never staying long at the center point where calm is found. Africa is such and I think that is what calls to me. The people there deal with death, disease, drought or floods and in the same instance there is such love, joy, compassion and generosity. They endure unspeakable conditions, yet have a sense of gratitude for things we take for granted like a glass of water. I do not take as much for granted any more. I used to get annoyed having to wait in a doctor’s office, or being stuck in traffic. Now I am grateful I have a doctor to go to, or a car to take me to a grocery store and money to buy food.

Living in this place of calm, I do not have to deal with the harsh realities Africans face, but then neither do I encounter the raw courage or joy of living another day. I hope that you who help us are able to know just how much your caring means to the people there.

This summer, we want to take photos of you here to those there. To see your faces, you have seen theirs. We tell them all about you, we tell them your stories. We tell you their stories. We are but conduits connecting two compass points between gentle, caring people. You give of your treasure in donations of tangible gifts in expression of your compassion and in return receive the knowledge, love and prayers from people who have only that to send. It is enough, it is what we can do. Thank you! Jessie  P. S., just heard today, the Piglets are thriving!

“Begin as you plan to continue,” we have said for years on New Year’s Day.  And what would that be?  My day began as it usually does by being licked in the face by James, my dog.  We walked in the early hours and saw a reddish sky (red sky in morning, sailor take warning).  Rain is predicted for our part of the country.  I checked the weather report in Dodoma, hoping their rainy season is doing just that.  The report is a bit different from ours because rain is life to them.  It read like this:  Saturday:  30% chance of precipitation ~ water equivalent of 0.06 inches.  Sunday: 20% chance of precipitation ~ water equivalent of 0.01 inch.   And so it went through the week, sometimes just saying: “water equivalent: “trace.”  The students from Msalato are on break and have gone to their shambas to till the soil (ground like stone) and plant their crops.   Alex Mshoka  soon to graduate and whom Jessie and I have sponsored for 3 years wrote that his wife is cultivating a smaller area this year.  He is working on his thesis.  He wrote that “the weather situation is not showing or giving us hope although we believe that God will bring us rain.”   Scary, isn’t it?  Faith in the Creator, also.

I checked the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor this morning hoping to see news of joy, something to make me want to welcome this new year with hope for a better world.  The news was pretty much the same: explosion on a  plane, floods in Australia, war, car bombs, the Royal Couple not wanting servants, “lame-duck” stuff.  The only thing I read worth sharing was from an editorial in the NY Times and I quote:  “Last night was a night of banishing regrets.  Today is for wondering how to live without new ones, how to do right by ourselves and one another.”   The key words for me were to do right by one another.  That is a good way to begin and hopefully continue.

Happy New Year to our faithful readers.  Tally

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