Dispatch 6, 17 Dec 2009, Thursday of the 3rd Week of Advent

Well, thanks be to God.  This mission teaching trip is ending and seems to have been a holy success.  Let me begin by responding to some questions.

How do I get home?  I left Geita on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec 13 2009, after the liturgy celebrated by Bishop Boniface Kwangu.  By heavy duty 4-wheel drive SUV, we traveled 100 kilometers to the ferry that crosses a small bay off of Lake Victoria.  The ferry took us to Mwanza, the 2nd largest city in Tanzania.  During this part of the trip, Bishop Kwangu asked many questions, first about the teaching and the students, and then about the Missionary Society and the status of the Anglican Church in America.  Upon arrival in Mwanza, I stayed at St Dominic’s Catholic Conference Center.

On Monday, I visited the office of Precision Airlines, the local air carrier in Tanzania.  My original flight had been cancelled and new flights scheduled.  I had to arrange to fly to Dar es Salaam in order to make my Emirates flight out of Dar. Tuesday, I flew to Dar and stayed overnight at a Lutheran Church hostel next door to Azania Cathedral, the Lutheran Center of Tanzania.  Azania is the ancient Greek name for this area of the East African coast.

Wednesday, I flew to Dubai, on the Persian Gulf.  Thursday I will fly to JFK airport in New York City, clear customs, and catch a Delta flight back to Cleveland, and especially to Patricia. I will arrive Thursday evening.

What do I eat in Tanzania?  I eat everything offered; to not do so would be discourteous.

What is generally offered for breakfast is untoasted white bread (mkate) with margerine & jelly, hard boiled eggs (yai), boiled sweet potato or cassava root (both delicious), and chapati (like pita bread).  I take coffee (kahawa); the Africans take tea (chai), heavily sweetened with raw sugar and lightened with milk.  Not all those selections are served every day but two or three are.  There is no decaf coffee where I go.

Lunch (served 1:00 PM) and dinner (served 8:00 PM) are about the same.  They include a selection from boiled white potatoes (Irish potatoes), or rice (wali) or boiled bananas (ndizi) or ugale (no American name), a pasty bread used for dipping and collecting bits of the other food, in place of forks and spoons.  Assorted greens, beans (like pork & beans – no pork) are usually offered.  And lastly, boiled chicken (kuukuu), or boiled tilapia fish (samaki) still whole with the head, or roasted beef chunks (nyama), one or two selections.  Not much variety but sufficient for sustenance, and usually tasty without being so exotic that it would discourage an American from trying.  I usually drink bottled water (maji); occasionally soft drinks are provided.

How do I take the heat?  After a week or two, I am more accommodated to it, but in many places it is hot.  I sweat – a lot.

Have you seen any lions?  No.  In my trips, I do not come as a tourist.  I travel on donated money, given to support the ministry.  I come, I work, and I leave and return home.

These are personal questions often asked of me.  The more important focus is the students and the legacy of the classes.  We have re-visited people and places where we taught over the last almost ten years to examine what is the legacy.  The legacy of this education is alive and well.

Students from years ago still remember the four qualities of the best pastors – personal holiness and integrity, servant’s heart, leader like Jesus led, and professionalism. They speak of their efforts to live out these values.  I saw prayer books (BCP) we provided years ago, still in use, with well-used bookmarks for liturgy, lectionary, psalms, and morning devotions.

I heard stories of first experiences and continuing experiences of the use of ashes on Ash Wednesday, foot washings on Maundy Thursday (Amri), and processions on Palm Sunday (Mitende).  I heard stories of clergy we trained now being accepted into local Christian ministers associations and becoming valued contributors to the work, thus showing both their new confidence and their new competency.   I heard stories of the old students working hard to receive more education.  I heard stories of new parishes starting, existing parishes growing, and increases in sacramental ministry.

The investment by God and you over the last ten years is continuing to bear great fruit in East Africa.  It is a holy legacy.

The ministry of OFM is to provide ministry education in places where such education is hard to get.  The Gospel command is teach the teachers so that they may teach the saints, the people!

The teaching has been completed for now here in Geita.  Your prayers and donations made a big 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 continue to bear great fruit here in East Africa.   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, and the rural church in Africa, all rely on you and all thank you. Without such support from you, this ministry dies.

Asante sana!  (Thank you!)

Fr Francis Wardega MSJ

Mission Station, Emirates Flight 203, Somewhere over Iran

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