2 Thessalonians 1:11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
Our readings of the Daily Office recently brought us to the above verse. We are now in Maseno, Kenya, and have feelings of being distanced from home. This verse, the e-mails, and letters from our friends and loved ones at home buoy up our hopes. Elizabeth and Catherine are great about keeping us informed of their activities and of family news. E-mail is very expensive here, but it is an indulgence we gladly allow ourselves, although getting on the internet is out of the question. We want all your news from home, but please do not send pictures.
Our immediate past is known to many of you. After two weeks of mission orientation at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest and a few furious days of packing back in Columbus, we left on Jan 29th for ten weeks of language school in Morogoro, Tanzania...
The Episcopal Mission Office would like us to consider permanent placement in Tanzania, because ECUSA is under-represented there. For this reason we tried to visit as many dioceses as possible while we were at the school. We visited the bishops of the Diocese of Morogoro as well as the Diocese of Central Tanzania in the capital city of Dodoma. In the latter diocese, Bishop Godfrey Mohogolo was very gracious and because of his openness to women in the clergy (Sandra) and ownership of a large hospital (Martin) this may be a place of later mission for us. We also visited the Diocese of Victoria-Nyanza and the Diocese of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the northwestern part of the country. We had previously seen the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro above the clouds while flying between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, but it is really quite spectacular to see it beside the road. This is the most “western” of all of Tanzania, due to the tourist industry surrounding Serengeti National Park, Maasai Land, and mountain climbing.
The Tanzanian people are very laid back. They are proud of adoption of Swahili as their national language, and through there are 120 tribal groups, there is a uniform respect for others. Eighty-five percent of the people are farmers, and although the standard of living is quite low by our standards, the land is relatively resistant to drought and famine and malnutrition are rare. We did, however, see babies dying of marasmus and cholera in an area around Dodoma that had had no rain during the “rainy-season” causing a famine.
We have been in Maseno, Kenya, for nearly four weeks. We are working in conjunction with Nancy and Gerry Hardison. They are a missionary couple who have been in Kenya for several years and in Maseno for the last two years. Their commitment is to boost up a theological college and hospital for Bishop Oketch of the Diocese of Maseno North. Nancy as Principal of St. Phillip’s Theological College is working to put the college back on solid financial and academic grounds. Sandra is teaching Homiletics and Hermeneutics and assisting with the chapel teams and the Anglicanism/Litury courses. Gerry is Medical Director of Maseno Mission Hospital. He is an internist and gastroenterologist who is working to revive a mission hospital which has fallen into disuse. Martin is working in the laboratory to improve microbiology procedures, setup histopathology, and begin quality control.
We are living in a comfortable three room cottage on the grounds of St. Philip’s. The setting is lovely as we are surrounded by large trees, producing welcome shade and wonderful breezes. About ten monkeys are living in these trees, and they use our corrugated iron roof to maneuver between the trees on either side of the cottage. It sounds more like elephants stomping on the roof than small monkeys. They are becoming braver and braver, each day walking a little closer to us. We stare at each other quite a bit! We live on a red dirt road, which will be familiar to any of you who grew up in the rural south. On either side are fields of corn, the main staple of the diet here.
When one talks of a seminary or hospital in Africa (probably excluding South Africa), one must remove all previous pictures from your memory bank. Speaking for the seminary, there are no book lists for the classes, as the students cannot afford books. In fact, finding a pen or pencil or paper is work. It is really quite unimaginable. The students all have a worn out Bible of some translation, usually Good News or KJV, and occasionally a battered paper back tiny hymnal. As you may know, in poor countries, the musical accompaniment is never published for public use. It is simply too expensive to do. These soon to be ordained people do not even own their own prayer books. In 2002 a Kenyan modern English Book of Common Prayer was published, but without the lectionary or Psalter to save money on the publishing cost. Not a single student has this book. It was to be published in Kiswahili in 2003, but the publishers ran out of money. The sad thing is that the students are desperate to learn, so right now my heart is feeling the tug to get each student their own study Bible and prayer book. Perhaps by graduation in November for the six third year students, I will be able to locate an affordable commentary and dictionary for them to take with them to their parishes. I am going today to look at a book store in a nearby town.
We depend on your love and prayers. We especially request that you ask God to clearly show us where we are to work here in Africa and in which way we should use our financial resources.
With much love and affection,
Sandy and Marty