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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Tanzania: Dispatch Six

Bishop Mpango

New Challenges

The time with Bishop Chidawali has ended. There was a last celebration of the Liturgy at the cathedral of King of Kings. Following this the last distribution of things were made; lesson plans, books, and thank you notes with little girls. There were tearful good-byes, “please come again. Your visit was so good”. It brought hope and expectation that the future would indeed be better.

It was a long bus trip to Dar es Salaam. I arrived during rush hour and 98 degree weather. My stay was in a hotel there on the seventh floor – a hotel without a lift (elevator)! I won’t be staying there again. Now I transfer to the next task of ministry.

The next task is to pay an official church visit to the Diocese of Western Tanganyika, the biggest diocese in the Anglican Church of Tanzania, under the leadership of Bishop Gerard Mpango. The Bishop was in Dar and we met at dinner with his wife, Margaret. It was delightful. He has traveled extensively in the USA and Margaret went to school in Michigan. The purpose of the visit to the diocese is to become familiar with the bishop, the diocese and the the people there and for them to get a flavor of who we are in order to begin a long lasting, mutually supportive relationship.

Later I found myself on the flight to Kigoma on the southwest corner of Tanzania. It was a three hour flight. I arrived on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. Across the lake, in plain sight, is Congo (old Zaire). Further south along the border is Zambia (old Northern Rhodesia). It is a stable country. Their first president, Kenneth Kaunda, was one of the bright stars in a time of rising democratic African leaders that included Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenyatta of Kenya, Obote of Uganda and Nkrumah of Ghana. Further down the river you will find the country of Mali, which bears no relationship, other than a name, to the ancient historic African kingdom of Mali which was located in western Africa, above Nigeria. Then comes Mozambique, most famous now as the coastal country along the Indian Ocean which produces and bottles Coca-Cola for this part of Africa. Read the rest of this entry »