Monday, February 20, 2017

“To feel the pure joy of life, donate yourself for the betterment of others.” ― Debasish Mridha


               Biggest news is that a few days ago I was complaining about the heat, the drought, the lack of rain, and the noise from the church crusades which surrounded us.  Well, one by one, the other crusades ran out of steam, leaving only the Seventh Day Adventists (the closest church) going strong.  We couldn’t help but hear that they were also praying (loudly) for rain—and it rained.  The skies have been cloudy every day (unlike the skies in “Home On The Range”) keeping the heat down to highs around 80F (26 C) and lows at night around 70F (21C).  It has rained every evening for a couple of hours for three days now.  The crusade has been buoyed by this response to their prayers, and we heard them say they will keep on past the eight days they’ve already been worshipping.  If they’re the ones bringing the rain, then we may go join them, and we certainly have stopped complaining about the noise.  Rain means so much more than just relief from the heat.  It means animals will stop dying and some crops may still have a chance.  More rain is forecast for today, so prayers have been answered.  Bwana Asifiwe!  Praise the Lord!  (sometimes my autocorrect will write “Bwana Asinine” instead)
                Bishop Monto came by yesterday with all his stamps and official seals so we could complete the paperwork required for Karen’s Labor Permit.  The new president has decreed that all missionaries must also have a Labor Permit ($500 American each) in order to get a residence permit ($250 American).  John and I have ours as our residence permits expired last summer, but it took seven months to get everything done.  Karen’s permit doesn’t expire until next July, but we have to get a jump on things because of all the delays.  Shaban will be traveling to Dar Es Salaam on Wednesday for about five days because Labor Permits must be done there and in person.  We have an attorney there who will give Shaban the papers saying he represents us, so we don’t each have to go personally.  We’ve been told we will only have to pay once for the Labor Permit but will have to renew it every two years just like the residence permits.  We’ll see.  So far, the government never seems to miss an opportunity to get more money from us, but if that’s the price of admission—we will gladly pay it.  Shaban’s well at his house also ran dry, so I gave him $100 which will allow him to have the guys take it down another three meters (10 feet) which should do the job, especially if this rain keeps up.  It seems that money has become something I only hold until others need it.  I have stopped calling it “pesa” (Swahili for money) and started calling it “kipepeo” which is Swahili for “butterfly” as it only lands on my hand for a few seconds before it is gone again.
                 Bishop Monto will be traveling back to Mwanza as our case before the High Court of Tanzania was continued once more to March 2nd.  The attorney needed another $200 for court costs and the travel and accommodations for Bishop Monto costs another $125—it’s always something, Kipepeo reigns.  While there is little question that we will prevail, the case has been continued four times now, and I rather suspect another is in the offing.  In addition, the church at Murambo has built themselves a building and bought the tin sheets for the roof but needed money to pay for the wooden roof joists and trusses.  It was just $150, but I have been spending so much for medical expenses, I just didn’t have the money for them until now.  Happily, I was able to give Bishop Monto the money, and he will take it to them next Sunday and preach for them.  Another pastor in Musoma and a good friend and member here in Bunda have both had to have prostate surgery, and we were able to assist them with their medical costs.  Here, they won’t let you leave the hospital till you’ve paid, and since they don’t provide food, that can be a problem.  Happily, they are both home and waiting to remove stitches.  It is rare for a Tanzanian man to live long enough to develop prostate problems, but it does happen.  The rate of prostate problems for caucasian men over 65 is 85%, but for African and African/American men, the rate is 95%.  Since the average life span here is late forties for most men, the vast majority never experience these problems, but if you live long enough you most surely will.  I can personally attest that these are not minor issues, but I’ve survived and so have my two friends here.
           On a side note, we have found a store in Musoma that stocks frozen chickens (grown here) that are fat and tasty unlike the free-rage birds available here in Bunda.  We bought two and wish we had bought twenty.  We’re going to see if we can arrange a deal with friends with a freezer so we can always have some on hand.  This may not seem like much to you KFC and Tyson surrounded folks, but to us, after twelve years of scrawny, tough chicken—this is like manna from heaven.  That’s all the news from Lake Victoria (no Woebegone here).  Ya’ll have a great day and give thanks to God, often.
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