Throughout the gospels Jesus’ parables used small things as examples. The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. The kingdom of heaven is like yeast. The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking to find pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything and bought it. The feeding of the 5000 started with almost nothing.
Sandra and Martin have been seeing small things that have value beyond measure: trips to villages, the service of Johanna Jacob and Ranjit Mathews, the teaching of pastors’ wives, a visit by English theologians and a plumber.
Trips to villages are special beyond measure. Daniel Fweda, a graduating degree student, invited Sandra to preach and to do baptisms in his first parish. Daniel is a devout pastor who got his call to be a catechist in his home village of Loje. He eventually made his way to Msalato. His wife Karen is from a village near Loje. They have 4 children, all living on the Msalato campus. Daniel proudly told me that all four rank number one in their respective classes. Mercy, age 16, rides with Martin to a high school in town each morning.
Mercy, Alpha, Frank, Giveness, Daniel and Karen Fweda greeting Christ the King
Daniel is sponsored by St Mark’s, Mt. Kisco, NY
For the sake of reference Loje is about as far from Dodoma as one can get and still be in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika. We have made fun of Fufu in past newsletters as being far away (from here to Fufu!), but Loje is 35 kilometers beyond Fufu. When Daniel invited Sandra he warned her, Teacher, Loje is very far into the interior. There are no tin roofs there!
On a bright May 22nd Sunday, Sandra, Martin, Magi Griffin, Daniel, Karen and the four children packed into the car for Loje. (We had checked the size of the children to see if the four of them would sit across the back seat.) They were told not to eat breakfast so as not to get carsick. The road had been recently graded and although not smooth, we made good time without mishaps. Leaving at 7am got us to Loje a bit after 10am. On the way we came across these three young women carrying new roofs back to their homes.
The reception was wonderful for Daniel, his family, and for us. Several family members and friends, including father Stanley, were waiting by the road to greet him.
The church was packed. There were several Masaai families in the congregation and they had their own choir. The Maasai style of harmony and song and dance is different from the Chigogo, the dominant ethnic group in this area.
Sandra preached on the comforting words of Jesus for troubled hearts in John 14:10-19. Daniel and his family thoroughly enjoyed the day visiting with their large extended families and friends. Taking a day trip is a small thing for us but we do it with love and reap the same.
We came back that evening to say goodbye to Johanna Jacob and Ranjit Mathews. Ranjit, an Episcopal priest, had developed a series of undiagnosed headaches, and he decided he needed to return to the states. Ranjit had taught multiple subjects at Msalato and his wife Johanna, an architect, had individually tutored many students in English as well as designing several additions to Msalato. Principal Moses Matonya gave both of them deserving tributes for the work they had done here. We will especially miss their warmth and friendship. We laid out a semblance of a badminton court at their house and played with them almost nightly. It was a special bonding time to be missed forever.
Johanna and Ranjit had been here 18 months, a small part of their life, but their contribution was great as it was done with great love.
We have been blessed with a gifted teacher from New Zealand, Christina Vaughn-Dawkes, who had been to Msalato many years ago as an English teacher. This time she returned to teach English in the Pastors’ Wives’ course for the last quarter of the year. As the pastors become educated in English and theology, frequently the wives are left behind. For the past year Msalato has now had a course for pastor’s wives started with a small MDG grant from the Diocese of NC. The women graduated last week, having progressed through four quarters taught by 4 different volunteer teachers: two from the UK, one from the US, and now one from NZ. Culmination of this last quarter was a series of skits, songs and worship put on by the women students. In English they read, prayed, sang, gave testimonies and did skits to show off their new talents. Their families showered them with gifts and leis to show their appreciation. What a lift in their lives.
THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE, I’M GONNA LET IT SHINE…not a dry eye…
These women, none of whom have gone beyond primary school, have spent their adult lives giving to others. To be the center of attention, to be the one receiving gifts and adulations was something that could only have imagined a year ago. In one skit they drew their life in 2011 and then in 2021. Besides wanting to be nurses and teachers, they wanted to own a car. Little things for us really.
First Pastors’ Wives’ English Course Graduation June 10, 2011
As grants go, it was small ($3,000.00) but it was written in love for the women of DCT and it was received with incredible excitement and joy. Their last week of classes, these women were even able to use the computer lab! At home, nothing , but here HUGE!
Another small thing was the visitation by two English theology students and their mentor. The mentor, the Reverend Liz Tilley, had taught at St Phillips Theological College some years ago. An accompanying husband of one of the theology students was a plumber. God had a reason to send him to us. The water had not been flowing in the girl’s dormitory for some time. With funds from his church, Paddy MacVean bought and installed a new tank and assist pump to remedy the problem. Small addition but great relief.
All of these vignettes are mustard seeds, but all have greatly moved our lives and the purposes of Msalato Theological College. We are looking forward to the celebration of 50 years of Msalato, July 10th to 17th. This will be a great occasion bringing many people back to the campus. It will be the topic of the next newsletter.
Sandra and Martin hope the small things in your life are celebrated with great love.
Peace and joy,
Sandra and Martin