McCann Mission Today
Newsletter # 26
July, 2009


No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matt. 5: 15-16 

Sandra and I are still reading Forward Day by Day as our morning devotional.  The author this month has written several notes reflecting on the subject of light.  Soon after graduation at Msalato, on July 10th in fact, a Solar Team arrives.  They are primarily from St. David’s in Roswell, GA.  Their goal is to put solar panels and electrify buildings at Msalato.  The team is led by Alden Hathaway, an electrical engineer, who when not working his day job, works for Solar Light for Africa (SLA.)  By the way, one of his first jobs years ago was working for Georgia Power in Columbus, GA.  He and his wife sang in the St. Thomas choir when Charlie Roper was the rector.  His father, Bishop Alden Hathaway, former bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, founded SLA.  SLA has done many solar installations in remote parts of Uganda and Kenya but was untested in Tanzania. Sandra, along with Charlie, met with the SLA Board and members of St. David’s in October of 2008.   She explained that Msalato had electricity (although sometimes intermittent) but thought Msalato might be a place to start and to promote solar power in Tanzania.  They agreed and before they came panels were ordered in the states, shipped by container, cleared after the usual hassle, and trucked to Dodoma.  Magi Griffin, Partnership and Project Adviser to Bishop Mhogolo, made trips to Dar es Salaam to order batteries, to shop for connectors, and to bring the panels to Msalato.  This done the solar team of eleven arrives. They live in the dorms on campus and go right to work.

SLA Team: MR: Brian Jacob, Bonnie Underwood, Allison Brady, Judy Beecham

BR: Scott Freeman, Marge & David Garrett      Ladder: Loretta Cecil

Roof of Dining Room: Chris Fadely and Alden Hathaway, Jr

Not pictured: Kate Dunaway   Remainder are students from various places.

They put 8 panels on the cafeteria and two on the library.  As you probably already know the panels absorb light, produce DC current by photovoltaic action, and store DC current in special 12-volt batteries.  When needed an inverter takes the DC current and produces AC current for power.  Part of the thrust of Alden’s installation was to teach Tanzanians about the components and circuitry involved.  Along with 6 Msalato students there were 2 teachers and 4 students from Don Bosco, a Roman Catholic neighboring vocational school, who came to learn and to assist. Yohana Sudayi, an electrician who has done a lot of work for the college, readily picked up the information and will be available for further installations.   We would like to think a panel for the office or home of a pastor in a remote village would be an immense gift.  We are told that a panel large enough to charge a phone and light one room would be less than $200.

Toward the end of the week, Bishop Hathaway and his wife Barbara arrived.  Bishop Hathaway led the lighting ceremony held in the cafeteria.  His enthusiasm for the project and for the transforming power of light (and THE LIGHT) was felt by all of us.  The next day he and the team went on to do confirmations in two villages with Bishop Mhogolo.  The Solar Team left on Sunday and went to Mikumi National Park on their way to flying out.  They were fortunate to see lots of game including mama lions with their cubs.  They were delighted. 

July, August, and September saw the return of several visitors.  First, Jessie Mackay and the Reverend Tally Bandy, from the Diocese of North Carolina.  As they did last year, Jessie taught art at Bishop Stanway Primary School and Tally taught Pastoral Care at Msalato.  In addition, this year they also both taught English classes for the secretaries and students in the English Foundation course.  The Reverend Dr. Paul Elliott from St. Michael and All Angels in Stone Mountain returned for the fourth time and again taught Psychology and Pastoral Theology.

At the same time, the talented Rev. Beth Palmer, Rector of St. John’s West Point, VA, Diocese of Virginia, returned for a third time.  Beth had sponsored a student, Emmanuel Petro, through the three-year degree program.  He graduated this year and he and his family relocated to Hombolo, a village some 70 km from Msalato.  His wife, Theresia, was 7 months pregnant with their long awaited second child.  Beth was planning to preach a Thanksgiving service for Emmanuel’s graduation at Emmanuel’s new parish.  Unfortunately 2 weeks before Beth’s arrival Theresia began bleeding.  This was diagnosed as placenta previa, a condition where the placenta blocks the uterine outlet.  She was admitted to the regional hospital in Dodoma, but shortly sent home.  Fortunately she stayed in Dodoma as that night she began bleeding profusely.  She was readmitted and had an emergency C-section.  The baby boy was premature and very anemic.  He lived only about 12 hours.  Emmanuel and both sides of the family were distraught.  Sandra, Magi, and I were in attendance to give some support.  A burial was quickly arranged within hours after his death with the Msalato bus taking family and friends to the paternal great grandfather’s remote village so that the baby could be buried next to his paternal great-grandmother.  Through the remarkable instrument of the bush telephone the paternal great grandfather was having the grave prepared when the bus arrived in the late afternoon.  Tragically, Theresia never got to see or to hold her son or to be at his burial service.

At the request of Emmanuel and Theresia for Sandra to do a Thanksgiving service for the baby, Sandra and Beth decided by Emails, as Beth had not yet arrived, that Sandra would do Beth’s service as a combination Memorial/Thanksgiving service and Beth would stay at Hombolo to be with Emmanuel, Theresia, and Gloria, their 4 and one-half year old daughter.  The service was September 6th and Beth stayed there over the weekend.  The service was sad but seemed to bring some liturgical closure, especially for Theresia who had basically been left out of the short life of her son.  We thanked God that Theresia’s life was spared, for the support of Beth so that Emmanuel could graduate debt free, and for his new parish who were tenderly supporting them.  So although Beth’s celebration of graduation was marred by unforeseen events, her skills at pastoring were sorely needed.  I did say talented, didn’t I?

Before this we went to Dar to pick up Beth Palmer and Paul Elliott on 26th of August.  At the same time we were taking the other Atlanta missionary, Magi Griffin, to Dar as she was to fly out to see her newly-born grandchildren.  Unfortunately, we witnessed a terrible bus accident on the way.  About two hours out of Dodoma, we came upon a bus that had crossed the road, run down a steep embankment and flipped over.  We did not see it happen, but it was only shortly before as the wheels were still turning.  It was pure chaos as those who could get out staggered from the wreckage in shock.  There were many head injuries as the roof had collapsed down to the seat tops.  You would expect wailing and screaming but it was eerily quiet.  We did what we could with shirts to bind wounds.  The police arrived and bought some order.  Local buses were loaded with injured and taken to Morogoro Regional Hospital.  We learned from the paper the next day that 8 had died and 54 were injured.  This is unfortunately all too common.  Martin’s Tropical Medicine course taught that the most dangerous thing you face in Africa is riding on the roads.

Martin’s cytology and histopathology practice are getting busier and busier.  He is trying to promote Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology as a cost effective tool in diagnosis. This three-year old boy has hydrocephalus and lesions of the scalp show cells of a medulloblastoma, one of the few pediatric CNS tumors to spread outside the brain and spinal cord.  Sandra helped interpret the skull films and the chest X-ray.  He may have tumor obstructing a bronchus.  Sorry no CT scan or MRI.  He is courageously facing a difficult future. His father wanted this picture. A kanga with Obama’s likeness drapes my exam table.

It seems that after the solar project, the narrative crept on to the dark side.  It was not meant to be that way. But these are the matters that test ourselves, our souls, and our faith. 

Love and peace,

Sandy and Martin McCann

PS.  Martin wrote the letter.  I am adding the pictures and sending on, but when I saw the Obama kanga, I thought of another kanga that I saw a young woman wearing at the Thanksgiving service for Baby Petro.  The Kiswahil words translate: We will always remember.