We are still in the throes of red tape and bureaucracy but are taking a machete to a lot of it. My residence permit expires tomorrow, but I don’t have a new one yet because the lack of a labor permit is holding things up. The Chief of Immigration has been very understanding and told me if I need to leave the country, he would stamp my passport because he knows it’s just red tape holding everything up. Shaban has been a real trooper since I am stove up and has gotten all the pictures and paperwork we need from the church (twice as much as last time). He has also been doing the same for John as for me since John’s residence permit expires one month from today. Shaban was willing to ride the bus for fourteen hours to Dar Es Salaam and back since he has to report to the labor board there in person. John, generous to a fault, has given him money enough to fly there and back since Shaban is also getting John’s labor permit at the same time. The plan now is for Shaban to fly down Saturday and return next Wednesday. If all goes well, John and I will get our residence permits at the same time, so we can stay and continue to do the work God has called us to do, and all for the low, low price of $2,500 (not in our budget of course). Karen doesn’t have to worry since her residence permit doesn’t expire until late next summer 2017. In the meantime, John still needs to make trips to Musoma and Mwanza for his solar projects, so logistical planning is taking a hit, but we will survive. Karen is still working on her Chicka Chicka Boom Boom projects, and she posted pictures of them on Facebook yesterday, so if you haven’t seen them, look up her timeline and see how great things look.
We had a minor Christmas yesterday when a package arrived for one of our best friends in the U.S., Mike Flanagan, who bought our generator for us and who serves as the vice-president of the One Book Foundation. It was full of over-the-counter medications unavailable here, like Pepto-Bismal, Tylenol, and some heat packs for sore joints. There was also garlic salt, Greek seasoning, taco seasoning, and liquid smoke, so our rather bland diet will get spiced up (pun intended). It also contained a doggy-door for Sissie, and we will be getting a fundi (craftsman) to make it work after we get all this labor and residence permit stuff behind us. Mike works in computers and electronics and put enough stuff in there for John that we probably won’t see him for a week or two—he was excited to say the least. Knowing my passion for watches, Mike bought me a new one with a couple of bands to go with it, so I’m a happy camper, too. Thanks to Cami Smith in South Carolina and Mike Flanagan in Boston, we get enough packages a year to have several Christmases. They take a lot of the sting out of being so cut off from everything else, and sending packages to us is expensive. My daughter-in-law, Brenda, in New Jersey, is sending a big package on Saturday, so three weeks or so from now, we’ll have another Christmas.
Our final High Court of Tanzania appearance is on the 26th of this month, and we hope that finally puts an end to all our persecution from the Kenya Methodist Church which is so corrupt the General Board of Global Ministry of the United Methodist Church ended over a hundred years of funding to them and Uganda in 2013. It’s a sad commentary on clergy in power but not exactly unique to East Africa. I know for a fact that many churches and denominations in the U.S. also have problems with corrupt officials. When I was serving as a pastor in Northwest Arkansas, the district treasurer embezzled over $300,000 and went to jail for several years. We are praying here for the General Conference now going on. We pray that cool heads, gently speech, and Christian love will carry the day in the end. There is too much that is good to see the church suffer from those chasing their own agendas and not those of Christ. God bless all who are there and may the love of Christ and the peace of the Holy Spirit fill their hearts.