There is a story that Teresa of Avila was being ferried across a river.  In getting off she slipped and fell into the water.  Thoroughly soaked from head to toe she shook her fist at heaven and said, God if this is the way you treat your friends, it is no wonder you have so few.”  Of course, God didn’t make her slip, but I have thought these last few days while trying to recover from jet lag, about the dignity of the people we know in Tanzania and now Ethiopia.  It seems to me they have every right to shake their fists at God but they don’t.  Their daily prayer is:  “Thank you God for loving us.”  Maybe Teresa was having a “bad-hair day” or was just mad at herself for being clumsy.  Our friends in and around Dodoma never seem mad ~ instead they are joyous and polite.  There is  dignity about them in their manners and in their dress.  When I ate in the dining hall with the students I was told to take my own plate.  I barely got in the doorway when someone took my plate and filled it with ugali and a hot cabbage slaw.  Climbing rough terrain to get to some of the ancient churches in Lalibela and then encountering steps that were half as tall as I, our guide would take my hand.  Somewhere, someplace, someone gave me a boost on my rump!  Jessie wrote of the sights we saw in airports all over the world (we flew on 10 planes) ~ the men at the college always wore nice shirts, often white dress shirts and the women looked smashing in their native dress, although some wore more western-style clothes.  There are no washing machines so I don’t know how they stayed so pristine and white.  Neither do I know how the priests retain their dignity when they make 14000 Tanzanian Shillings per month ~ that’s about $12.00 and a third of that goes to the bishop.  They are gracious and praise and thank God for loving them.  Being more like Teresa, it looks like God could find a nicer way of loving them.   They also laugh a lot, far more than we Americans.  “How is that,” I asked Sandy.  Since suffering and hardship is neutral, always present, they have laughter to counterbalance the the pain.  Not a day passes that I don’t think of them ~ I’m in a strange world with my feet in two oceans.  And my heart?  Well, much of it is with them in Tanzania.   Lord have mercy.

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