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We arrived in Tanzania as the moon was rising full and beautiful. We’ve watched it wane and now it is nearly full again. It is time to come home. As we prepare for our last seven days on this continent we are filled with awe, sadness, hope, sometimes despair but always love and gratitude for what we have experienced and what we have learned. Some of you will agree with me that it is easier to say “hello” than “goodbye,” but I remind myself that goodbye is derived from “God be with you” and we leave our friends here with that prayer.

With the few remaining days we want to fill them to the brim. As I may have mentioned, we had dinner with Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo and his lovely wife Irene on Saturday night. He gave us a personal tour of his grounds where he himself is growing casava, mangoes and grapes. Tanzanian wine is not the greatest, so here’s hoping the bishop can grow a grape that will harvest a good crop for communion wine.

We ate in their dining room with a Lazy Susan. At one point I asked if it was permissible to take seconds and Irene said it would be impermissible not to have seconds and imagine this: the bishop began to clear the table. I thought that was the deacon’s job or privilege. Later we retired to his living room where the bishop gave us his undivided attention about some of the schools and projects that we are interested in. On Sunday we were again with him as he ordained over 30 men and women to the diaconate and the priesthood. He graciously invited me to vest and participate but I had not brought robes and I was quite happy to sit with Jessie and other friends. Our friend, Joseph Kyense who was in one of my classes last year moved to sit close to us so he could translate for us. The service was in Kiswahili. There is a genuine kindness in the bishop’s face and demeanor. It was a glorious day as are all ordinations. We are all on the mountain top that day and the next day we are in the valley where most of life’s growth occurs.

We have a full week with a visit to another diocesan school nearby and we have volunteered to have an orientation for 4 students who are coming to the states in January to do four weeks of urban ministry at Virginia Theological Seminary. None of them have ever been on an airplane and some are nervous wrecks. Jessie and I hope to alleviate some of their fears or concerns.

This coming Saturday two of my former students and one whom Jessie gave art supplies to are taking us to Manyoni and Itigi to a different diocese. We will visit with church leaders and their bishop and then we are promised a magnificent view of the Rift Valley in Kenya. I asked Sandy why they were going to so much trouble for us and she said it is all they have to give us.

One last note for this entry. Today at 4:00 a lovely man, Daniel Fweda came for tea with his wife, Karen. As Jessie and I picked up our cups they stopped us and said: “we must give thanks for the tea.” Embarrassed, we said that we say grace at mealtimes but not at tea. When Daniel said they give thanks for a glass of water I nearly dissolved in tears.

Jessie will follow this up with news of a project that really lights my fire. We are investigating all the hopes and possibilities.

Blessings

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The bishop’s farm – what an operation!  Vineyard, orchards, livestock, casava, this is where he will retire.  It was family land and he has been building the “shamba” farm for nine years, but has just moved in recently.  It is all energy-green.  Solar panels, methane gas from manure, collection system for rain water.  He will use it as a conference center and teaching farm as well.  A remarkable guy.  We had a lovely dinner with him and his wife and good conversation about things in the diocese.  Today we are going to an ordination (cast of thousands).

(click on photo to see slideshow)

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