Shaban’s mother-in-law needs back surgery, so he is taking her to Dar Es Salaam today by bus—a fourteen hour journey. She has family there that will take care of her, so Shaban will just turn around and come back, but it’s a four-day bus ride. He’ll be back on Monday if all goes well. I don’t envy him this weekend, but he takes care of family. This culture is all about family, and we could learn some good lessons from these kind and gentle people.
John is taking a taxi to Mwanza tomorrow (since Shaban isn’t here) so that he can fly to Dar Es Salaam where he will work for a week to help get computers in the schools and tune up some solar projects. The last time he went by taxi, the driver never turned on the air conditioning even though it worked, so we had words with the driver and this time it’ll be A/C all the way no matter how cold it gets. It costs about $60 for the taxi which is about what it costs for diesel for our car to make the same trip, so it’s no more expensive. John leaves at six thirty in the morning and won’t begin work in Dar Es Salaam until Monday morning, so a mini vacation for him. He’ll be back on the twelfth of November, rested and well fed at the very least.
Karen is getting ready for a two-day seminar in Montessori method teaching that we are hosting in mid-December. We will have about fourteen teachers, seven parents, and two or three pastors here to learn, practice, and get new instructional materials to take back to their schools. From our first preschool here, Santa Caryn Academy, through St. Penny’s, St. Teresa’s, and now four more, we have seven preschools at seven churches all using the Montessori method as well as feeding almost three hundred orphans every day. We pay to feed those here and those at St. Penny’s. The other churches pay to feed the children at their schools.
If we had done nothing else but the work on these schools it would have been enough. If we had only done biosand water filters giving clean, safe drinking water to almost 15,000 Tanzanians, it would have been enough. If we had only grown the church from four churches and 200 members to twenty-nine churches and 4,000 members, it would have been enough. Then there were our sanitation and hygiene workshops (over 35 of them) here and in the villages—that would have been enough, too. Not to mention the wells, pumps, hand-cranked wheelchairs, agriculture innovation, pastor training sessions, our English classes, the scholarship program that will have graduated 70 Christian teachers by next May, and the help we have given local doctors and hospitals—well, you’d think that would be enough, but we don’t think so. We don’t think we’ve done hardly anything and feel guilty about what we haven’t done, but I’m told that’s the mark of good missionaries. Did I mention the pairs of breeding goats we give to new widows with children almost every month? In reality, we have done and do so much that we are not even aware of it. We just do it because that’s we’re supposed to do and then move on, forgetting what we’ve done. I got an email from a teacher who went through our scholarship program (others have thanked us when they graduated but we usually don’t hear after that) to tell us how grateful she was to be a teacher and working to build a better Tanzania. Sometimes, just a brief note like that reminds us that we are not just lazy old folks here even if that’s how it seems to us. Dr. Chris told me we were heroes to him, his family, and the community. If I’m a hero, I want a cape and a cool suit. Do they make superhero suits in XXXL? You probably know at least one superhero for Christ and may be one yourself. Don’t look for the $90,000,000 church buildings, look for the little things you can do to help one other person today. That’s where real heroes are—doing little acts of kindness every day. Ya’ll are all heroes to me. Just sayin’.