Monday, February 10, 2014

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” ― Muhammad Ali

When we first came here in 2003, we were staying in a Mennoite hostel in Musoma.  If we wanted to use the internet, we had to go across the street to a place called Juasun where we met a man named Robi Machaba.  He was warm, inviting, and allowed us to use his equipment whenever we needed to.  I told him about my son, John, and after we had returned to the States, through email, John began helping one of Robi’s workers named Samson, so before John even came to Africa or met Robi, he was helping Juasun and its workers.  Since we have moved here, John goes to Musoma at least once a week to work and teach at Juasun which has provided our internet connection for all the years we have been here.  Robi also works with solar power and has brought light to several villages that still have no electric power running to them.  Robi used to live in Boston (working for Polaroid) and took courses at Boston University, so he and I have a lot in common.  He has lived in Tanzania for over thirty years and was a good friend of Bill and Jimmye Whitfield who were the United Methodist missionaries living in Musoma for seven years.  Robi and I have helped each other many times and are good friends.  While I was downloading my new operating system on Saturday, we sat and talked for several hours (conversations between Americans my age are limited to my wife, Pete O’Neal in Arusha, and Robi in Musoma), so it was a good time for both of us.  I was sitting in a rocking chair that he had had built for him, but I liked it so much, he gave it to me.  He has also been working hard to get high-speed internet back to Bunda after an absence of over two months, and it looks like we might get it this week.  Robi is a big basketball fan and loves movies, so we have a lot to talk about when we get the chance.  For those of you who know Shaban and have seen the machete scars on each side of his face, he got those while traveling with Robi and both were cut up and left for dead, bleeding on the highway for hours before help arrived.  Neither he nor Shaban hold any anger or hatred for the men who did it to them.  There are always a few good men around.  It has been my good fortune to have known many of them and to have two very good friends, both former Americans, as my good friends here.  True friendship is a rare thing and something to be treasured.  I am blessed.
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