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THIS is what all the crop fields look like.  Another year of drought, no crops.  Food is going to be a serious problem for our friends in Tanzania.  Karimu will use some funds to buy corn which can be distributed by Moses and Sandy.  If you can help, please do.  They are totally dependent on rain and when it doesn’t come there is no food.  JessieImage

A good, related article from the New York Times:

New Life for the Pariahs by Nicholas D. Kristof


bishop's farm 014

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)

At least a hundred years ago I directed a production of Hansel und Gretel at an elementary school in Virginia. One little child had a one-liner: “The wind, the wind, the heavenly wind,” and he could never get it quite right – sort of like the little boy playing the inn keeper during the Christmas pageant. When Mary and Joseph came up the church aisle he got so excited that rather than saying his one-line: “There is no room at the inn,” he blurted out: “Wecome, welcome, come on in, we have plenty of room.” It sort of blew the gospel account of Mary giving birth in a stable or a cave but it still excites the mind that the birth of any baby, and especially the Christ Child can engage and capture our hearts.

Wind is much on my mind these days because it comes up in the early hours of the morning – I mean like just before the rooster whom we have named Pavarotti, welcomes the new day, and it blows and blows and sometimes makes me think of storms at sea.

Shortly before I left for South Africa in 2007 the late Dr. Don Schulte, respected and loved by many of us, called me at home and said among several things that I had endured a seismic event in my life with the sudden death of Hank Franklin, the priest at Emmanuel whom I had worked with so faithfully and lovingly for many years. Further, Don said that I was entering a period of enormous transition and he urged me to go off to South Africa with an open heart and an open spirit. More than anything he told me to be attentive to the new sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this very different world from what I had known.

I think this year, two years later, I am more in-tune with the sounds and smells and sights. Landsamercy, last year I was too shocked to take in much of anything other than the poverty. I’m more relaxed this time – not as stunned, in fact mesmerized by the sights and events that we have been privileged to experience this year. Earlier we said we would probably not come back next year because of the global economy but already we are saying we want to come back next year.

Wood and charcoal fires, the African’s way of cooking is a natural aroma now. Mostly though I notice the quiet at night – Jessie doesn’t always agree because we hear drumming and singing long into the night from the girls’s secondary school nearby, but once they have called it a day, it becomes unearthly quiet – no traffic, no planes or trains, no sounds from things like refrigerators or televisions or even air-conditioners. Those sounds do not exist here. Occasionally we will here far in the distance the whine of a dog which rips at our souls. Mostly, it is grave-like quiet and it feels holy to me.

This should be two entries because there is another whole story to tell you about our dinner with the bishop last night and an ordination of 30 some men and women in a far off village. We left home at 7:30 and got back around 5:00. Don’t ever complain about services lasting more than an hour!

For now I will leave you with these words about wind.
“I am the wind; yes, the wind beneath my feet. I’ll keep rising up. From the way I stride to the whisper in my voice; it’s the wind carrying me and directing my flutter; directing every twist and turn. Yes, it’s the wind inside that uplifts my spirit daily. See the true freedom in my eyes, it’s my soul in the wind.”

Calling all qualified English Teachers!! As you know, Tally and I are attempting to teach English grammar and have found out just how utterly clueless we are about the structure and rules of our own language.  It is a total mystery. We attempt to teach young women every morning a class at 8:00. Yesterday, because it was one of the gal’s birthday, we brought in a cake and had a party. The earrings from Morgan Miller were a huge hit. In the afternoon, we had an English conversation class, this is a bit easier since we certainly can speak! However, I was so tired, I spiraled down in to idiocy when a man told me his name was “Peter”. Most of the names are tribal – but Peter! All I could think of was: “Peter, peter pumpkin eater, had a wife and couldn’t keep her, he put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well”. Of course we then had to explain what a pumpkin was, which is good since it is a conversation class. But, I could not leave bad enough alone and proceeded on to “eensie, weensie, spider” and ended demonstrated “I’m a little tea pot”. Now I have not done that since kindergarten. Tally took pity on me and asked a sensible question: “Does Tanzania have an army?”

I wrote 2 blog entries the other night and lost them both to cyber-space. There is no point in trying to recreate them. Each day brings its own challenges.

I watched Jessie go off early this morning in a Land Rover type vehicle packed with children, a wee baby, and 4 adults. I’m not sure how she managed to climb in but you know our Jessie. She was on her way for her 2 days and 1 night in a village with a nightie, toothbrush, clean undies and our shoebrush. We are nut-so over trying to keep our shoes clean, or at least we start out each morning with polished black shoes. I was invited to go along but had already commited to speaking at a retreat today. Quite frankly I don’t know where I would have sat. You never see a car with only one or two people in it ~ they will stop along the road and pick up a walker if there is room. I shall enjoy this vicariously through her and I am sure her next blog entry will be fascinating and I shall have the water heater on and the wine chilled when she returns tomorrow night!

Last night we had dinner with a former student of mine, Alex Moshoka. Jessie and I are sponsoring him at the college here. He’s quite bright and showed me a paper he had written on oppression and I was glad to see a full paragraph on the oppression of women. I congratulated him on his forward thinking in a country where it seems women do all the hard labor, and his desire to see a change here in Africa. His children cooked our meal of rice and stew. I asked him what meat was used. He replied: “cow,” a real delicacy for his family I am sure. His wife Cecilia spoke no English but Alex translated for her and for us. She had lots of questions about America and our families. Even though they have college housing it was very meager and very humble. He is a priest and when I asked him his dreams and hopes he said he wanted to be a teacher.

Much sadness today. A much wanted baby boy died this morning after the mother was delivered by C-section yesterday. Infant mortality rate is disgraceful. Sandy McCann saw the baby this morning and said he was beautiful but nearly white from loss of blood. He died today and was buried today without his mother there. There is no way to embalm a body. Sandy said seeing the grandfathers cry broke her heart. Children, especially boys are much loved and treasured here. But life is as fragile as butterfly wings. This baby would have survived in America.

Thomas Acquinas wrote of the degrees of poverty: ordinary poverty, acute poverty, and destitution. We see destitution every day.

I have not felt much like a deacon since leaving Emmanuel but John Calvin defines deacons as “stewards of the poor.” Perhaps I am where I am suppossed to be. God only knows.

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