Tuesday, May 19, 2015

“You may be closer to the end of life than the beginning, but it's good to finish strong.” ― Morton Shaevitz

Here’s the news:  Shaban returned today after a five-day trip to the funeral of his aunt quite some distance away (we paid for his bus fare, but the trip was over ten hours long—ugh).  Charles, one of our best workers, was stung by something and missed several days as his finger became extremely swollen and painful.  He may be allergic.  We paid for his hospital bill and the medicine, and he is back at work today (only missed three days) with his finger back to normal size and the pain all gone.  We have had two teachers in a row quit the preschool over the last two months (we suspect former pastor Nyansa hired them away) but we have a new one who is excellent.  The idea was the kids who had parents would pay enough for us to pay the teachers, but that hasn’t worked out and maybe was a bit of pipe dream anyway, so our costs for the school have gone up about $100 a month.  Since we are on a fixed income, we just have to cut back other places.  Right now, we are being helped by it being an election year as the price of diesel has fallen from $11 a gallon to less than $9.00 a gallon.  That makes a big difference when you have a thirty gallon tank that went from costing over $300 to fill to just under $200.  The prices will probably go back up after the elections in October, but in the meantime, we are enjoying seeing the prices go down for a change.  The Tyson people have decided that they want to buy a few biosand filters to try them out before they make any further commitments, but we don’t make God’s plans, we just make sure we’re available when He needs us.  Sissie, our Tibetan Terrier is still adding joy and a bit of adventure to our life at a time when we need it.  Neither Karen nor I has improving health and both of us are in pain every day and hurt to walk, stand, and move around.  We seldom leave the house for weeks on end, but still get out every now and again—mostly to go to the doctor or the dentist, but that’s what we get for living so long.  As long as we can go on loving and serving, it’s just the price we have to pay.  All three of us have made our last trips back to the United States, it is simply too expensive to go, and we are very grateful that my mother left us enough money for both Karen and John to take trips back last year.  I was blessed to have Boston University fly me back in 2013 and my Aunt Amelia helped pay for the plane fare for me to see my grandchildren in Arkansas.  Only John is really physically fit enough to make those long flights now, and he has no real reason to go—being very happy here working on his solar and electronic projects that will help hundreds of people.  He has been asked to teach basic electronics for a week or two in the next few months at a college in Tireme (about an hour and a half from here, near Kenya).  Our daily life doesn’t change much.  We still have two schools in operation here at the mission on a daily basis, still feed almost 100 orphans a day, still are making and placing biosand filters in places where they will do good.  We are still distributing Bibles, teaching seminars when asked, I am still counseling and teaching the other new bishops and pastors who come by every Sunday afternoon, and every day we deal with people who come by seeking our help.  Our case in the Tanzanian High Court has been postponed to May 27th, so we won’t know for another ten days how that will turn out.  If they rule against us, we will have to leave Tanzania to go wherever God guides us, but we don’t think that is really a possibility.  Could still use prayers for our court case, however.  Winning just leaves us right where we are but keeps the Kenyan church from ever suing again and will give us the right to try to recoup some of the money we have spent on the lawyers through six court cases.  In spite of everything, we are all three (Karen, John, and I) still firmly committed to serving the church and the people of Tanzania until God calls us to His home.  Life may not be as exciting as it was in the first seven or eight years when we were traveling more and going on safaris, but our work here is still vitally important.  Karen secretly saved enough money for us to go to a nice hotel in Mwanza for two nights (June 4th and 5th) to celebrate our Golden Anniversary.  She always comes through even when I have given away too much money, finding it difficult to say no to people in real need.  My eyes are getting progressively worse, but I can still read because my Kindle lets me increase the size of the text.  If only the rest of life would be so easily adjustable to aging (especially for men with prostate problems—happens to over 85% of men my age, so nothing dramatic—just life as it is).  We soldier on, carrying the crosses we voluntarily picked up as we were asked, and we follow and serve as we have been called to do.  That much of our future is a known quantity which is a good thing.  
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