Dispatch 4, 6 Dec 2009 2nd Sunday of Advent

The ministry of OFM is to provide ministry education in places where such education is hard to get.  The ministry is very effective but not glamorous. The teaching day starts at 9 AM after breakfast.  Whenever we begin a session, we sing a hymn from the Swahili hymnbook and a class member prays in Swahili.  We end each session in a similar way. The usual schedule is listed below:

8:00 AM                        Breakfast

9:00 AM                        Class

11:00 AM                         Tea

11:30 AM                        Class

1:30 PM                        Lunch

2:30 PM                        Class

4:00 PM                        Tea

4:30 PM                        Class

6:00 PM                        Dinner

We usually meet in the church with little table-desks for each student.  See the pictures. Often noise or heat forces us to move, usually outside, under a tree.  One time, my chair was placed uncomfortably near a pile of goat manure. It was not a quality comment on the teaching by one of the students, but something that the Africans just do not notice.  I noticed!  Sometimes rain then forces us back into the church.  Students take copious notes, page after page.  See the picture of one of the student’s class notebook.

It is interesting and ironic to be teaching about the beauty, grace, and details of liturgy and then hear the Muslim call to prayer being sung throughout the town.  Muslims are a small minority here but their money gives them some influence in the town.  I have seen very little of the town because of the daily schedule of teaching.

The students have grown to love learning.  After class, they talk and compare notes to make sure they have all information and understand it all. They are working extra hard now because there is an examination for record coming.  Feelings of being second-class citizens of the church are disappearing rapidly.  The pastor here, who coordinates all the Anglican churches in the Geita area, is thrilled with all that is happening here, and already talking about next year.  Local pastors have also visited me from the Assembly of God Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the African Inland Church. All three pastors had heard of the classes from others in the town, asked for copies of the lesson plans, and inquired about me coming to teach in their churches.

Your prayers and donations are making a difference here.  These twenty pastors will change the nature of church in these rural areas.  They will become seed for sowing in God’s kingdom here in Tanzania.  Thank you God.  Thank you people of God.  Your prayers and financial support are bearing great fruit here in East Africa.  The teachers of God’s people are being taught.  Without you, all this does not happen.  We are grateful for those who supported this trip and we are grateful to the monthly donors who keep this ministry alive.  This ministry, the students in Africa, the rural church in Africa all rely on you and all thank you. Asante sana!

Fr Francis Wardega MSJ

Mission Station Geita, Republic of Tanzania

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