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To each of us is given the occasional burning bush or mountain top experience.  Sometimes we don’t even recognize it but other times we feel a deep shift deep in our soul.  I am not even sure we have to be attentive.  Most often they just happen and we are surprised but we know it is of God.

My husband Claude wanted to go to his home parish today. I didn’t. Something was pulling me to St. Thomas’ in Sanford or St. Mary Magdalene’s in Seven Lakes. Up until the last minute I didn’t know which way my car would go ~ north or south.  There was some freedom in going wherever the Spirit led me. To make a long story short, I went south to St. Mary Magdalene’s not knowing that they were celebrating their 30th anniversary, not long in the Episcopal Churches’ history in North Carolina.  Emmanuel is well over 100 years’ old and St. Thomas’ is even older. But this sweet-spirited mission church is committed to growth and to serving God by serving others.  What came as an even greater surprise was Father Bob’s sermon.  He spoke lovingly of  The Reverend Moses Matonya’s visit to St. Mary Magdalene’s last Sunday with his message of “love and thanksgiving.” Bob also read an e-mail to Jessie and me from Moses written when he reached Virginia Theological Seminary last Sunday evening. When he arrived they had already eaten their evening meal but Moses had in his possession a small gift given to him by someone at St. Mary Magdalene’s ~ something wrapped in blue paper that he clutched in his hand as he signed his book and as he talked at their Coffee and Contemplation time after the service.  None of us, other than the giver knew what was in the small package.  Moses wrote: “Thanks be to God because I have the cake I was given at the church I am eating it before I go to bed.”  He closed his e-mail with these words: “I truly enjoyed so much my stay with you. You have so nice hearts you ladies and God bless you richly. You will always remain in my heart and I will NEVER EVER forget the care and love you and your people (St. Mary Magdalene) gave me.”  Bob said that a simple gift of cake, wrapped in blue paper became Moses’ Sunday supper and that God’s grace transformed that tiny gift into an abundant meal of love.”  He went on: “Can’t you just see Moses’ smiling face as he ate his gift of love, and remembered with fondness and thanksgiving the people of St. Mary Magdalene Church? Can you have any doubt that God was smiling too? Can you ever doubt that God was well pleased?”  By then tears were coursing down my cheeks; Bob was crying and the congregation was in the same boat. We all felt the grace of Moses’ visit.  After the service Bob said to me that now that Moses has gone from this place that it is not unlike the lovely fragrance of incense after it has burned out when there is nothing left but ashes. That is the way we feel about Moses Matonya.  His loveliness is still here with us. I am deeply moved by his visit, his faith, his trust and his way of always finding reason to give God thanks.

I learned later this afternoon that due to heavy rains the young sister of Seche who cleaned, washed and baked bread for Jessie and me lost her home yesterday when it collapsed due to heavy rains.   Pendo which means love in Kiswahili has two small children and I want to help her in any way we can. She works for Sandy and Martin McCann.  If any of you readers would like to help don’t forget Karimu. We will see Sandy next week just before she returns to Tanzania.  We will give her what we have to aid this young and good family. Rain is fickled over there ~ it is not enough or it is too much. Even so I am sure Moses will give thanks to God.

Pendo's Little Girls

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A week ago we were on our way back home. Am glad that trip is behind us…34 hours of flying, transferring, waiting. First two days were physically challenging, wild sleep patterns, muscle aches, probably dehydrated.

Gone through 7 weeks of mail, caught up with family and friends, Tally has written a grant for $3,000. Hope that it goes through. Processing what we have learned, what we can do next to further the projects we are involved in.

Have started painting some of the scenes and people we saw, so would say – am back home. For now. Jessie

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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

Oh, it is lonely here tonight with branches brushing up against the house. Soon I will crawl into my mosquito-netted bed and pull the covers over my head! I think of Jessie possibly sleeping on a cow skin although Sandy said she might have a bed. She is staying with Moses Motonya’s mother. Moses is the principal of the college and he will visit us in December just before he begins 6 weeks sabbatical at Virginia Theological Seminary. I had dinner tonight with Kate and Iri Moto, he from New Zealand and she from Tasmania. Both teach here and they are the salt of the earth. They even offered me a bed tonight if I was nervous about staying alone. I’m trying to prove my courage and think of my favorite things! Iri blessed the food before dinner and prayed for Jessie. I asked if the villagers would entertain her with songs and dance tonight. If not tonight, certainly tomorrow he said. Since there is no electricity there will be no “Sleepy Time” tea and no reading. Aren’t you just dying to hear from her?

A knock just came at my door with the familiar greeting: “Hodie.” I thought it was Sandy checking on me and opened the door. It was Jackson, the night guard (with a rifle) giving Jessie and me an invitation to a staff luncheon tomorrow to honor the people from New York here with the Carpenter’s Kids, a New York based organization that goes into the remote villages chosing the most vulnerable children and giving them school uniforms, shoes and school supplies. We met many of them last year when we went with them to distribute the uniforms.

Many have written asking how they can help. Checks can be sent to Mr. William Rose at 10 Walnut Creek Road, Pinehurst, NC 28374. Checks should be made to Karimu our tax deductable non-profit organization. For all who have been so generous I thank you with all of my heart. You can’t really have a grasp of this unless you see it. Yesterday we went to the Amani Hospital which sits unused and empty. It is a sound building but no money to reactivate it, but we have hope. Martin McCann dreams that someday it will be strickly a maternity hospital. Had the little baby that died this morning had the proper care he might be alive tonight. I took pictures of the OR and the instruments. They looked like something out of the dark ages. We are limiting our pictures because it uses up a lot of giga-bites on the Msalato bill. Plus I’m not sure I know how to download the pictures. I just take them.

Blessings to all who read our blog and who pray for us. Night-night.

Busy day for Tally and me.  We had our usual traumatic English class, we did not know how to explain when to use “present continuous”, heck, we are back to learning how to conjugate the verb “to be” ourselves so we can teach it.  We went with our tails between our legs to the head of the English department hoping to be fired, and instead were given Murphy’s Red Book on Essential Grammar In Use.  Pray for us!!

On the way to this meeting with the Head of the English Department, a four and a half foot snake sidewinded (or is it sidewound) across our path, a person coming towards us said:  “Oh, we interrupted his meal, he was after that lizzard.”  We looked and saw the big green lizzard happily going on his way to live another day.  Interestingly, Tally didn’t mind the snake one bit, but a half centimeter spider is another story…

This afternoon, I went with some of the teachers from “my” school to visit other schools in the area to talk about how they conduct their schools, guess you would call it a “fact-finding” mission.  Very informative.  Tally and I worked with the children making quilts for the schools in the States that have partnered with the school here, the children are also working on paintings for me to bring back for an art show. Good night!  Jessie

In the midst of utter reality there is much here that is surreal. We are face to face with poverty, famine, children in rags and daily beggars at our doorstep and yet we were gifted tonight with fresh milk from Mama Tupa’s cow. Mama Tupa heard me say we were nearly out of milk for our cereal and tonight around dinner time there came the now familiar greeting: “Hodie,” which means “knock-knock, may I come in?” Many of the huts have no doors so they use a verbal greeting. The response is: “Karibu,” which means: “welcome, come in.” Two young girls, Nellie, a secondary school student, and Lydia, a student at the Bishop Stanway Primary School were hand-delivering fresh milk, still warm, from the cow. Imagine for one second the value of that gift from people who have so little. Their stomachs may be empty but ours have been filled. We have much to learn about relationships, sharing and what is really important in our lives. I’m not preaching – I am still in school myself.   Jessie, the world’s best traveling companion and I will turn in with full bellies and full hearts.

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