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Moses may have parted the Red Sea but The Reverend Canon Moses Matonya, dean of Msalato Theological College in Tanzania came to Pinehurst, North Carolina and for 5 days shared with many of us his love for and his unfailing trust in God, in spite of living in a hard land with grueling poverty. I’ve tried to think of a word to adequately describe Moses ~ one really isn’t enough ~ but AUTHENTIC comes first to mind. There are others ~ loving, happy, intelligent, warm, man of God ~ the words are endless.

He had been in the U.S. once before with his wife Ruth. Then he stayed in an apartment in Georgia during his year there. This time, he has stayed in private homes and he commented on how nice it was for him to see how Americans live and never with any sound of envy or admonition that we have such an abundance of everything. I was embarrassed for him to see all the clothes in the guest room closet and Jessie said that maybe he didn’t know that I had other full closets! I have to tell you, this great man did the breakfast dishes each morning at my house.

To briefly sum up his time with us for those of you who did not meet him, he spoke at the Country Bookstore in Southern Pines and graciously signed his book: “Real Power: Jesus Christ’s Authority Over the Spirits.” Jessie and I have a few copies if any of you are interested in having one. We drove to Greensboro to meet with Bishop Chip Marble and The Reverend Leon Spencer who spent a great deal of his ministry in Africa. This was New Years’ Eve Day and Bp. Marble was very gracious to take us all to lunch at his favorite place on what was a day off for a bishop. He too is a great man whose passion is anti-racism and truth and reconciliation.

Moses saw the movie, Avatar in 3-D and liked it. I was afraid it would be too violent for him but it had a good message. He had already seen Invictus about Mandela.

Moses looked at a lot of football with Claude and tried to figure it out ~ he said he just about “got it.”

The Reverend Bob Brown, Vicar of St. Mary Magdalene’s hosted Moses on Saturday night and then we were all blessed by Moses’ preaching the next day at St. Mary Magdalenes. He later answered many questions at their “Conversation and Coffee Hour.”

Jessie and I put him on a plane later Sunday afternoon for Washington, DC where he will be the guest of Dean Ian Markham at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria for 4 weeks. He will be translating his book from English into Kiswahili and having some respite from his work in Dodoma.

I for one still feel the warmth of his smile in my home and Jessie and I feel very connected with him, his family and his people. Pray God we can return next summer for what has given me a rich blessing and a new direction in life.
Oh yes, he ate black-eyed peas on New Years’ Day. Maybe a silly tradition, but one that I hope brings him good health and good fortune in 2010.

Thank you all who came out to meet him and to hear him preach. What a message he gave us all.

Watch a slide show of some of the paintings by Jessie Mackay from her stay in Tanzania last summer.  Some of the proceeds from the sale of these paintings goes to KARIMU, their not for profit organization to raise money for projects in Tanzania.

sanzabar woman

For a number of years I wrote a monthly article in Emmanuel’s newsletter titled:  “From the Deacon’s Heart.”  Even though I was always struggling to meet deadlines, I realize that I have missed putting every day ponderings down on paper.  Now I have a blog with no deadlines.  Mind you, I hardly know what a blog is but thanks to Anna Franklin Smith, Hank’s daughter, we are learning the basics.  Someone said:  “You are a blogger.”  Shucks, I thought I was a deacon.

Today I thought about generosity and gifts.  In today’s mail was a sizeable check  for Karimu from a colleague and friend who is not exactly rolling in dough.  Some of you know him and he would be embarrassed to death if he knew I was writing about him.    He models self-giving to the point of sacrifice, although I’m sure he never thinks in those terms.    He has no cell phone, no answering machine, certainly no computer.  I don’t even think he subscribes to a newspaper.  He lives modestly and even into his 80’s volunteers at the hospital here in Pinehurst.   Jessie and I have been given much larger gifts and some smaller gifts for the people in Tanzania, all appreciated and all to be put to good use, but his gift touched me deeply because I suspect he could use the money himself.   The Africans are like this too.  They share whatever they have.  “Little is much when God is involved.”  Peace be unto you.

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