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26 December 2009

Dear Friends,

It is now 4:30 p.m. on 26 Dec. I had planned on writing a note this morning but it was not to be so. This should be a day off as the workers are gone for the weekend and the morning meeting of the Small Christian Community leaders never happened. I believe everyone was tired out from the Christmas Masses and the rain and only a few showed up this morning for Mass and the meeting.

I was heading for my office this morning when a couple of men came asking for help to get their truck out of the Isakalyamhela River (the bush area of rhinos). They tried to cross yesterday, Christmas day, with a load of 300 cases of Pepsi Cola products. As it turned out, all the Pepsi went down the river and the Fuso truck along with them. I will attach a picture. I sent my big tractor and a pickup truck to see if we could help. Then I decided I had better take a look. My original impression was that they had just got stuck. That is what happened, but then rains began that kept coming until we had a total of 3 1/2 inches. The river flooded rapidly and took the truck about 100 feet and rolled it over. They did some digging by the bank and perhaps we can roll it back on its wheels. Then what? We can’t pull it over a 2-foot sand bank. On Monday morning the first thing we will do is go with our front end loader and dump truck and haul back all of the sand that is just waiting there for us. Someday soon it will be part of our new hospital! We need the sand. Just too bad there is a truck partly buried in it.

The garden is flourishing with all of the rain along with lots of flowers. I have a couple of 6-foot fences full of a variety of beautiful morning glories. The new zinnias are a delight to see every morning. Marigolds pop up here and there and I leave as many of them in the garden as possible.

We have a good start on the foundation of our first hospital staff house, along with the attached latrine. The workers have gotten down to about 6 feet. We want to go 14 feet or more if possible. We have plans for an addition to our laboratory, but I don’t know if they are just what we need until we consult with the office of the Regional Lab Technician in Shinyanga. Our “Doctor” who is home on a short vacation from medical school had an appointment with him last week only to find that he had been sent unexpectedly by his boss to Mwanza. We were not happy. That was the second time we missed him. No one likes to travel that far by bus for nothing.

I will try to keep you updated on the progress of our building program for what is now to be a Health Center, and later a hospital. It is a great leap of faith to start something like this. It is a challenge, but not as big a one as building a parish center in an open corn field plus 3 centers and 9 outstations in a 400 sq. mile area, as we have done in the past. We are a missionary parish in a very non-Christian area where it is very difficult to evangelize by word alone, if not impossible. We need actions that save both the body and the soul. Continue to pray for me and for all of us as we do for you. I remember you all daily.

The good news, as the year comes to an end, is that I now have two phone lines that will make it easier for you to call me. Those few of you who have tried have had a difficult time using my number with the Zain server. To add another server was difficult because it would mean carrying two phones. Samsung came to the rescue with a normal sized phone that has a place for two “sim” cards, something that is not so new, but what is new is that there is no switching from one to the other when receiving a call, only when making one.

The Zain cell phone server seems to have taken on more customers than they can handle. We have difficulty calling right here, much less some one calling from overseas. I sometimes have to try 20 times or more to get someone with the Zain network. You will find it easier to call me on my Vodacom server as they have a stronger signal and better service.

A little explanation. Many of you know that to make a call outside of the USA you need to get the international phone service. You do this by dialing 011. Then you have to enter the number assigned to the country you are calling. For Tanzania that number is 255. After that you enter the number of the person you are calling. That is why there seem to be so many numbers when you call me.

The number that I have given you for several years is 011-255-783-231-599. That is my Zain server number that you are having difficultly reaching me with.

Please try my Vodacom number. 011-255-754-080-622

These numbers are not a mistake. We only have 9 digits, not 10 like the USA. I just wanted you to understand that the 011-255 are not my personal numbers, they are just the ones you have to use to get to Tanzania and then add the number of the person you are calling.

Just remember to buy a phone card and not use your local service unless you have some special plan. The cost is not that much. I call frequently from here to you. It would be nice to have it a two-way street. Just remember that we are 9 hours ahead of Wisconsin time, and 8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. My phone is on from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. The best time is during the day. I might be in a meeting, but not that often. I do have a problem receiving in my office as it is in a metal container. Don’t be afraid to try. Africa is part of the world!

Please check my website for updates:

A blessed New Year to all,

Fr. Paul

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