Tanzania: Dispatch Two

bishop-chidawali-and-secretary.jpgbishop-chidawali-and-secretary.jpgbishop-chidawali-and-secretary.jpg 

November 16, 2007

Greetings from the southern highlands of Tanzania.  Bishop Daudi Chidawali and his people send greetings and love and prayers to all of you.  He has been hosting Fr. Francis in his home since Nov. 10th.  Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world but the people must be among the happiest.  They have so little – sometimes going a week or more without eating meat.  Most do not have electricity.  The land is clean and the roads are well maintained.

tanzania-marriage-blessing.jpgThese days are currently spent at Buigiri Theological School, around thirty kilometers from Dodoma.  The school has three rooms:  a classroom with a dirt floor, a dormitory room with a dirt floor where the students sleep on mats on the ground, and a similar made cooking room.  Rev. Canon Harold Hango is the principle, Enoch Chi Bamdo is a teacher, and Mrs. Rhonda Maboraa is another teacher.  The school provides church education for young men and women who are serious about their commitment to Christ and also serves those men who are called to ordained service.  Their educational offerings are very limited.

The lesson plans of Fr. Francis were received gratefully so they may be used in the future.  There is no electricity – only a few desks and chairs, a blackboard that requires a wire brush to erase, and a volunteer to drive away lizards during class.

The first seminar for Fr. Francis was expected to serve 15-25 people.  104 came for the seminar and lived at the school for the four days of the seminar.  Sixty of the attendees were ordained priests and deacons, many with their wives, and other parish leaders.  Less than 10% had any understanding of English.

Before class had a chance to start, the people had much to say and many questions to ask about the pain of church that they had experienced over the last few years.  Given their history with prior church affiliations, they were not inclined to trust anyone.  They were hurt and angry.  Point by point, question by question, comment by comment, relationship was slowly built.  Trust began to happen.  Good things began to happen.  It took eight hours and that was only a start.

This was not normal mission ministry but it was what was needed.  It was why so many people came.  The future became possible, very slowly.  The focus turned to real classes, very slowly.  Good people began to hope again.

These are good people eager to learn but without much experience in learning.  Bishop Weeks had provided their first glimpses at church education and Fr. Francis builds on that.

Old priests came and shared joy that good things were starting again.  Young people begged that the teacher stay long than he is scheduled.  Communication is hard and slow but it does happen.

This journey has started.  We pray God’s blessing and grace on it.  Thank you so much totanzania-home.jpg tanzania-home.jpgtanzania-home.jpgall of you who prayed and supported this ministry.  It works in the most difficult places and situations.  Only by the grace of God.  This dispatch was written by candlelight under duress before the computer battery died, from a mud and cement hut near the main road.  It comes to you, dear God’s people, who have made this possible.

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