McCann Mission Today
Newsletter # 30
March 2011
LENT

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say,"Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples,"Where is their God"

Joel 2: 15-17 NRSV

 REV. PHANUEL M P. MUNG'ONG'O ASHING A PARISHONER AT MSALATO

Where were you when they crucified my Lord? Where were you when they nailed him to the tree? Where were you when they laid him in the tomb?  (African-American Spiritual)

Sandra gave the sermon at the Ash Wednesday service in the chapel of Msalato Theological College.  This service has become a big event.  Ashing started some 6 years ago when Baptist minister Ruth Stock from England was teaching over Easter term.  Sandra, the chaplain, wasn't sure it should be tried here in an area generally considered to be low church, but Ruth insisted that we must ash them.  Sandra gave the first sermons explaining the significance of Ash Wednesday, both to the college students and to the parishioners of St. Andrew's Church that share the college's chapel.  Both St. Andrew's and the students have come to love Ash Wednesday and large numbers of them were at the service with the crowd overflowing into the courtyard.  There is an Ash Wednesday service at the cathedral in Dodoma, but no imposition of ashes, so a couple of car loads of people from town, mostly missionaries, came as well. 

The general feeling was that this is how Lent should begin.  Sandra called all of us, and especially pastors, to be ambassadors for Christ, little Christs, as Martin Luther would say.  This resonated with the congregation and the phrase little Christs was used in subsequent sermons by other pastors.   The people were called to the traditional Lenten disciplines of fasting, the giving of alms to the poor, and prayer.  In song we were reminded that it is a period of self-examination:
It's ME, it's ME, it's ME, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.
Not my mother, not my father, but it's me O Lord standing in the need of prayer.
So the Lenten journey began with sermon and song. And on April 24th, we hope to end with a glorious Easter, singing Welcome happy morning, age to age shall say!  or perhaps Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!, but the hymn for Dodoma is the second verse of Morning has Broken: Sweet the rain's new fall sunlit from heaven, Like the first dew-fall on the first grass.
Unfortunately, the rainfall has not been good this year.  When Martin returned in early January, it rained nicely every night for about 10 days, but after that there was a long dry spell and lots of crops were lost.  It has rained a few times in March, but it is too late in the season to replant.  Drought is an ongoing refrain in out Lenten letters, but that is unfortunately the way it is.  Central Tanzania, with only one rainy season, is very drought prone.
On a positive water note, a project has been launched from St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Dahlonega, Georgia.  Sandra and Martin met with rector Albert Daviou and parishioner Tom Roberts, a water engineer, in 2009.  Tom, now retired, and his former partner, Tim Tieslau, another water engineer from St Gabriel's, Oakwood, were interested in helping a water situation in the Dodoma region.  In 2010 Sandra did the necessary homework with the regional water commissioner and chose the village of Tinai, some 50 kilometers north of Msalato.  The residents, shown here in July of 2010, gave thumbs-up to contributing the physical labor to the proposed project of bringing water to the center of their village.  One of the men said to Sandra: Pastor, I am ready to start digging today!
On February 23, Albert, Tom, and Tim arrived here.  Magi Griffin, missioner from the Atlanta Diocese, arranged many necessary contacts and meetings for them.  In short, they met with general secretary of The Diocese of Central Tanganyika, all the important local officials, and the local water expert.  Meetings went well and Albert, Tom and Tim are now in the process of raising $50,000 for the pump and generator.  The local towns people will provide the workforce to dig trenches and lay piping to distribution points.  This will be a great help to a dry remote area.  The three men explained the project in depth to the villagers, mixing easily with them.  The three were actually beginning to catch the beat. Unfortunately, we cannot send the videos of them dancing with this ethnic dance group shown below!
Tim Tieslau, Tom Roberts, and Albert Daviou+ enjoying ethnic music and dance
Tinai just happens to be a parish under our good friend and Area Coordinator, the Reverend Emanuel Petro.  Emanuel, Albert, Tom, Tim, Magi, Sandra and Martin all went to Tinai for a Sunday worship service.  The whole village turned out—Muslims and Christians, Methodists and Anglicans, young and old.  It was an out-door service as the church was far too small to accommodate the appreciative villagers.  The whole scene brought to mind the Biblical images of tribes from every nation and of Jesus and the multitudes.

Albert baptized and later preached a beautiful sermon about water and how it binds us all together.  There was something in the sermon that was both basic and full of deeper meaning.  The water guys left the next week satisfied with their accomplishment and hopeful to raise the monies.
Right along with the water guys we had a visit from our boss, the Mission Personnel Director of The Episcopal Church, the Reverend David Copley.  He had come from the NY office to see the church's missionaries in the Sudan and Tanzania.  In all there are 7 Episcopal missionaries in Dodoma: Primary school teacher Peter Prewandowski (Diocese of Western MA); Rev. Ranjit Mathews and architect wife Johanna Kuruvilla, both teachers at Msalato (Diocese of MA); Will Brooks, U.S. liaison for Carpenter's Kids (The Diocese of VA); and Magi Griffin (Project Advisor to the Bishop) and Sandra and Martin, the latter three all from the Diocese of Atlanta.  For the Episcopal Church, this seems like a high concentration of missionaries in one place.   However, David was able to see that the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, under the visionary leadership of Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo, has a vital impact on spiritual formation and delivery of basic services in the region.  DCT is the strongest Anglican diocese in Tanzania and the only one ordaining women.  Msalato Theological College has become the school in Tanzania.

Front: Dr Marigail Wynne (visitor from VA), Johanna Kuruvilla, Bp Johnston (The Diocese of VA), Sandra, Martin, and Rev. Copley.  Back: Ranjit Mathews, Magi Griffin, Will Brooks, Suzanne Johnson (VA liaison for Carpenter's Kids), Dr. Susan Lukens (Houston, TX, short term missioner at Msalato Theological College), Bp Mhogolo, Peter Prewandowski

At the same time Bishop Shannon Johnston of The Diocese of Virginia was visiting Bishop Mhogolo.  He was especially here to see Carpenter's Kids' parishes sponsored by his diocese.  We had met him before as he is first cousin to Paul Johnston, who designs and maintains our website, mccannmission.org.  Bishop Johnston showed amazing ability to connect with everyone to whom he spoke. He, along with Virginia's Mission Coordinator, Buck Blanchard (not present on this trip), represents another strong link of The Episcopal Church to The Diocese of Central Tanganyika.
And last but not least

We are feeling especially blessed as yesterday, March 21, in Shanghai, our daughter Catherine presented us with our first grandchild.  He is doing well as are his parents.  We plan a visit over Easter break.

We hope this Lenten season is proving meaningful for you as it is proving so for us.  We both want to be better ambassadors for Christ and are spending time meditating and thinking about the ways in which God wants us to improve in our daily walks.

 

A Holy Lent,

 

Sandra and Martin

 

www.mccannmission.org

 

www.msalato.com