Romans 1: 12 That you and I maybe mutually encouraged by each others faith.
Paul’s expectations about his voyage to Rome make us think about our expectations from the visit of Bishop Mhogolo to the U.S. and from the upcoming visit of Bishop Alexander to Tanzania. Since our last newsletter there has been a lot of mutual encouragement. After Bishop Mhogolo’s return in early May, we had him to dinner to get the full report. He was glowing from the warmth and hospitality he received everywhere, but especially in Columbus and Atlanta. The mutuality of this encouragement has been reported to us by Sherry Wade, Charlie Roper, and many others. Bishop Mhogolo’s genuineness and presence was definitely felt by the people of the Atlanta Diocese. We now feel much more connected to the people at home through this common bond of friendship.
One immediate fallout of Bishop Mhogolo’s trip is that he has given glowing reports about the Episcopal Church in America to many groups. We feel fairly certain that the students of Msalato Theological College are the only theological students in Africa whose bishop has spent an entire Sunday with them discussing the love and vitality of the Episcopal Church in America, as well as expounding on the complexity of the issue of homosexuality. He was able to put the latter into some cultural perspective by comparing polygamy, a crime in America, to homosexuality, a crime in Africa. We have two women who are graduating this year who are in polygamous marriages. One is the eighth wife. We have yet to hear if these women have been approved for ordination by the diocesan committee, but they were approved by the college staff. They are both in the Kiswahili two year course, so I have not personally had a chance to teach them or to get to know them. The way we look at it is that these women only have one husband, and even for that one, they were not given a choice.
Bishop Mhogolo was accompanied to the US by Brian Atkins, a volunteer part-time business advisor to the Diocese of Central Tanganyika. Debbie Shew, the Director of Community Ministries in Atlanta, did an incredible job of arranging their schedule. Our own, if we may say, Charlie Roper took charge in Atlanta and showed them around, taking them to the Carter Center, the Martin Luther King Center, and the Emmaus House. At our request Charlie also took them to Medshare in North Atlanta. This is a not-for-profit clearing house for reconditioned hospital equipment. They send shipments by sea containers (about the size and shape of a small railway car) to developing countries. Since Bishop Mhogolo has plans for equipping and upgrading four health care institutions in his diocese, this is a golden opportunity to help. A list of medical equipment that had been prepared by Martin and others was left with Medshare. Although the equipment is free, the shipping costs are in the range of $20,000. Bishop Alexander has graciously committed the diocese to raising the funds for this project.
While in the U.S. Bishop Mhogolo also visited the Office of Anglican and Global Relations at The Episcopal Church Center in NYC. After meeting there with the Rev. Canon Benjamin Musoke-Lubega, Partnership Officer for Africa, it was decided that Bishop Alexander on his upcoming trip to Tanzania should visit the Congolese and Ruwandan refugee camps in the Diocese of Western Tanganyika. The St. Thomasites might remember that this is where the seminarian, Gerald Mpango, that they supported through Virginia Theological Seminary in the early 80’s is now the bishop. This trip is to be arranged to fall between the graduation at Msalato Theological College on June 26th and Sandra’s ordination to the priesthood on July 3rd. As Bishop Alexander is to be the guest preacher at both of these events, he will be very busy during his short time in Africa.
From the last week of May and continuing up to the present we have had a very pleasant visit with a professor and three students from Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS). The Rev. Jacques Hadler came to Tanzania in the 60’s as a Peace Corp volunteer. After seminary and marriage he returned to St. Phillip’s Anglican Seminary and taught there for three years. St. Phillip’s is one of Tanzania’s two provincial theological colleges and is in the adjacent diocese. Jacques continues to have a heart for Africa. His vision is this: Rather than have a very few African theology students come to the U.S., we could be doing more by bringing teachers and resources to Africa. On this trip, in addition to his own teaching, he has brought three senior women students with him to evaluate a model for short term parish placements and teaching positions for seminary students. Leslie Steffensen is a senior working on a Master’s in Theology who is teaching intensive courses in theology for two weeks at St. Phillip’s and for one week at Msalato. Her syllabus and lectures were done as part of an independent study project in theology at VTS. Allison Sandlin from Decatur, AL, is testing her call to rural ministry in a village setting near St. Phillip’s, and Caron Gwynn from D.C. is in a town parish in Dodoma. Both of these women are planning to be ordained after graduation. As these VTS visitors near the end of their three week commitments, it is fair to say that both they and we have received grace upon grace from their time in Tanzania.
We also had a visit from our older daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Wilson, in late April/early May. We will post a few new pictures (www.mccannmission.org) from our short safari with them to Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater in the Serengeti. Since returning to the states, Elizabeth has graduated from Columbia University School of Medicine and will begin a one year medical internship at Beth Israel in New York City later this month. Her residency will be at Brigham Hospital in Boston. Wilson also graduated last month from the University of Delaware with a Master’s degree in Environmental and Energy Policy. As we could not attend either of these milestone events, our wonderful time together immediately prior to them made us feel more connected. Elizabeth spent a day at the Mvumi Anglican Mission Hospital on one of her dad’s teaching days and Wilson a day with Missionaries of the Precious Blood who put up windmills to draw water from wells. We feel that seeds were planted.
We are blessed to have Charlie Roper and Sherry Wade co-ordinating fund raising efforts for our support and work. We hope in the very near future to have our list of needs posted on the website as well as progress reports on the amounts raised. In the meantime, please continue to pray for mutual encouragement that we may more clearly see what our part should be in midst of so many needs.
With much love and joy, Sandy and Martin