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The Anglican Church of Tanzania and Jessie and I are mourning the loss of this vibrant and joyful man ~ Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo, modestly known as Mdimi.  His death came yesterday (March 28th, 2014) in a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa following a severe infection in his lungs.

Jessie has posted on Face Book  the article that appeared in Episcopal News Service, and I encourage you to read it for he was a great leader, a theologian and “one of God’s saints” according to my former bishop in Virginia.  This is a terrible loss.  Great leaders are the hope of Africa.

But, I want to share a  few personal remembrances that we have of him and his wife Irene.  Each time we have been to Tanzania we were invited to their home for dinner.  Being a champion of full equality of women he rejoiced in the work we were doing in empowering women, and especially respected our piglet project among the village women. He announced in a church service that one of the projects he had started had not worked, but that our piglet project was a huge success.  He was speaking Kiswahili and Jessie and I didn’t have a clue what he was saying until someone said he was talking about us and wanted us to come up to the altar with him.  He had a great sense of humor and could laugh at himself.

He and Irene always greeted us with hugs outside on the portico of their new home and farm, NALA, where they had planned to spend long and happy retirement years.  Then we would be given an annual tour to see how some of the crops were doing, his ingenious way of filling plastic bottles with water and tying them to his papaya plants and then to his real prizes, his pigs and his cows.  He was looking forward to being a farmer-bishop!

He visited us once in Pinehurst and after a little gathering I had for him, he helped clean up the kitchen.  I told him that his momma had brought him up right.  When I learned he was coming I called my Virginia bishop, David Jones and said what do I do for a visiting African bishop?  David said “do his laundry,” and I did. And he appreciated it!

Jessie and I know that death is a constant but when it is someone we love, it hurts so badly.  I think of our friends in Tanzania this day ~ all under a deep cloud of darkness.  One priest said he had lost his mentor and best friend.  Before I got up this morning I thought of them and tried to pray for them and realized that even in their deep grief, that are thanking God for this great man that lead them and the people of Tanzania.  We are told that his funeral will be HUGE with many dignitaries including the president of Tanzania.

His unforeseen death meant that Moses had to return to Tanzania immediately, thus he is on a plane as I write and not on the train to Southern Pines.  This too is a terrible sorrow.

Grief often comes in threes.  Jessie’s beloved sister, Barbara, died yesterday, so hearts are very heavy this morning.

I’ve always liked the tombstone of Emily Dickinson.  I reads simply:  “Called Back.”  Mdimi has been called back and we know he is in the loving arms of his Father, but Jessie and I are going to miss him very much.  He was a great supporter of Karimu.  Barbara has been called back too after a long battle with Parkinson’s.  One sudden death, one lengthy.  Both painful.  May their souls rest in peace and rise in glory.

Love to our readers,