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Claudia

James Taylor wrote a wistful song, “Carolina in My Mind.”  I’ve been listening to it this week in the car as I’ve bustled about tying up loose ends before leaving next week (July28th) for Dodoma.  Africa is in and on my mind and has been since we returned last September.  We return on September 11th, the same day we returned last  year.  We didn’t realize it was that infamous date until we got to the airport in New  York and saw the news on CNN ~ that’s how disconnected we were from our world.  This time last year we did not know the name, Sarah Palin, nor had Obama been elected president of the United States.  Walter Cronkite was still alive.  A lot happens in a year.  A lot happens in a day.

I try within my own soul to articulate my feelings about this mission, this continuing journey.   As someone said, “Africa breaks my heart everyday.”  But why do I feel compelled to go back to bucket baths, sporadic electricity and water?  What is the lure, the call, the need?  As poor as Tanzania is I don’t think so much of the poverty as I do their generosity.  And I think of Jesus saying:  “I was hungry and you fed me.”  What do I know of the people I met last summer at Msalato Theological College and the Bishop Stanway Primary School?   What do I know of the Rev. Mary, dear of the diocese of Tanganyika and the villagers and priests that I met?  I am learning about the widow’s mite, first hand.  I am learning that the poorest are often the most generous.  I am learning about love.  The poor are my teachers.

If  love begets love, then generosity begets generosity.  Jessie and I have army duffle bags full of gifts and things to add comfort and beauty to their lives.  There is generosity on this side of the ocean as well.  Money has poured in for us to use in any way helpful to the people we now know and love.  Some have donated their time to take care of Jessie’s dogs.  Some have sent huge checks.  Some have offered prayers.  Two simply said:  “We want to grow up to be like you and Jessie.”

There is a lovely women’s apparel shop on Broad Street, Southern Pines, owned by an equally lovely young woman, Claudia Miller.  (The shop is Morgan Miller).  With great love and generosity Claudia is sending us off with 50 pairs of beautiful, colorful earrings for the priest’s wives and the village women.   Just imagine the joy of the women who have an eye for color and a gift for wrapping kangas around their waists and shoulders that often serves as a shawl in which to carry their babies.

Yesterday was spent in Burlington with the clergy of this diocese and our bishops reporting on General Convention.  Michael Curry, my bishop, stopped what he was doing and put a cross on my forehead and offered a blessing for safe keeping for Jessie and me.  “Go with God’s blessings,” he said.  Under his breath and with all sincerity he said:  “Do you have enough money ~ do you need any money?”  I told  him we always needed money but that we would make it.  His generosity shown like the noonday sun.

With a grateful heart for your gifts, your prayers, your money, your support, I say thank you and God bless you.  Carolina will be in my mind too.   Always with love,  Tally+

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