Tanzania 2008 – Dispatch 1

MISSION DISPATCH NUMBER ONE:  Mwanza, Tanzania, Saturday, August 9

The mission trip has started.  I landed yesterday, Friday, in Mwanza, a city on the southern coast of Lake Victoria, after a journey that started very early Wednesday morning in Detroit, and took four airline flights.  It is hot-90 degrees-and humid, normal life in Mwanza.  Rt. Rev. Boniface Kwangu, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Victoria-Nyanza (DVN) was there to welcome me personally.

Today, I rest and accommodate to the time change – eight hours ahead of the time in Detroit.  Tomorrow, I celebrate and preach at the English service at the downtown cathedral.  Monday, I begin teaching at the theological school.  In Tanzania, there are two official languages; Swahili and English.  There is often a third language – a local tribal language – also.  I teach in English and it is interpreted into Swahili.

Tanzania is normally a peaceful land.  Its first president, Julius Nyerere, called Mwalimu – the teacher – taught the people that they are family, ujamaa in Swahili.  He taught a spirit of cooperation that transcended tribal animosities and history.  It worked!  It has stood the test of time.

Tanzania is a union of Tanganyika, old German East Africa, and the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba (clove capital of the world).  It is approximately evenly split between Christianity and Islam.  The largest Christian group is the Anglican Church.  Rt. Rev. Dr. Valentio Mokiwa, the Anglo-Catholic Bishop of Dar es Salaam, was elected primate of Tanzania in February of this year.

I will spend the next approximately 19 days teaching clergy and lay leaders.  I will teach basics of the faith, introduction to liturgy, introduction to ordained ministry, fundamentals of sacred Scripture, and sacraments to those who are the main teachers of the diocese.  Every student will receive a copy of every lesson plan, building up personal ministry libraries in a land where there are very few libraries at all.

So the work begins.  I thank you all for sending me here.  I will work hard to make the most out of what you and God have given.  I give thanks to God for overcoming all obstacles to get me here.  I give thanks to all of you, the donors of the years, friends, who have been faithful supporters through all the fitful journey of church in recent years.  I give thanks to my bishop, Rt. Rev. Frederick G. Fick.  I am also grateful to Most Rev. Walter Grundorf, Deaconess Tina Jenkins of the Missions Office, and the people of the Anglican Province of America who have supported this trip mightily also.

May the blessing of God Almighty be with all of you.

Fr. Francis Wardega, MSJ

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