Friday, October 9, 2015
“We have the capacity to create a world that is peaceful...one that spreads kindness and love rather than hatred. If we believe it to be so, it will be our truth, and we will create it.” ― Kristi Bowman
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away there was a young hippie couple living in Abilene, Texas, in the summer of 1969. It was the summer of Woodstock but we are not among the forty or fifty million old people who claim to have been there. We did pack up our little Opel station wagon and head off to “Texas Pop” a couple of months later. Most of the groups that were at Woodstock were also at “Texas Pop” —check out the list of groups on the poster in the picture at the right. Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young—it was three days out of time and place. It was held in Lewisville, Texas, just outside of Dallas, and there were at least three or four hundred thousand of us. Most of us camped in a nearby state park where we bathed in the lake (Ivory soap was a premium because it floated and didn’t disappear when you dropped it). The “Grateful Dead” came to the campsite every day and performed for free for a couple of hours. This young couple thought that they could change the world. When it was over, they drove back to Abilene with their two-year-old son, and the wife went back to teaching first grade and the husband finished his last year in college (his seventh year) to get a degree in Elementary Education. As soon as he graduated, they left Texas and moved to Los Angeles, California, where they both taught in elementary schools in the ghetto. Of course it was us. We didn’t change the world quite as fast as we thought we would, but we never stopped hoping and praying the change would come. Now, some forty-six years later, we are working in our eleventh year as missionaries in equatorial Africa where we have expanded the Methodist Church in Tanzania from four churches with two hundred members to thirty-two churches with over 5,000 members and still growing. We don’t do enough, but we still distribute pre-treated mosquito nets to pregnant women and women with babies (over 2,000 so far), we have started seven preschools in our churches that use the Montessori method with teachers trained here at Maisha Na Maji by that hippie-chick from so long ago. We feed almost a hundred orphans a day, produce and place biosand water filters (over 500) that bring clean, safe drinking water to almost 15,000 people a day, and have place deep-water pumps for three villages, have taught sanitation and hygiene in over thirty villages, work on solar projects, and help with computer solutions. We have helped many young girls with their school fees to they can help change their own situations. We have also helped the medical community with supplies and equipment, and, at this very minute, have a portable, battery-operated, blood pressure machine waiting to be picked up that I brought back from the U.S. We do more, or course, but it doesn’t seem like much in the midst of all the crying need that surrounds us. That hippie couple that wanted to change the world are finally doing it, but by planting trees they will never see grow and bloom and dropping pebbles in a pond never knowing where the ripples will end. It is enough and it takes help from a lot of folks in the U.S. and other countries who supply us with money, prayers, encouragement, and emotional support. We’ve come a long way since “Texas Pop” but finally found the direction and the means to do what we have always dreamed of doing but to slightly different music.