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23 March 2010

Dear Friends,

May God Bless all of you as you prepare spiritually to celebrate Holy Week and the great feast day of the Resurrection of our Lord.

I am writing this on a cloudy late afternoon this 23rd of March 2010. Happy to say rains have returned after a dry spell that harmed or wiped out many crops. We have begun planting again and pray daily that rains will continue until June so that we have food for the months that follow until we can plant again. I have been able to water the garden so I continue to have fresh greens to cook and of course lettuce and radishes every day.

I will attach 3 pictures. One is of the damage to the roof of our outstation of Byuna 5 miles away. 6 metal roofing sheets were torn off by high winds last Friday. It is now repaired but not an expense that I needed at this time. The other pictures are of our medical laboratory showing the lintel poured over the doors and windows. I am talking with our lab technician Lucy Leonard. The other picture is that of our staff house. We are now making the rafters and will put the roof on when we are able to buy the necessary materials.

I wish I could say that we have received help in what is for me a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to build a Health Center that may some day be the only hospital in the area. Unfortunately, to date I have not received this help. We have the chance to save hundreds of lives and are doing so even now with our dispensary. As I mentioned earlier, the Ministry of Health granted our request to become the only Health Center in our Diocese. One of the great benefits it will provide will be life-saving blood transfusions. At present many die before we can get them to the local government hospital. It is a long trip because roads have deteriorated badly. I have had to stop road work for 2 years as I do not have sufficient funds for roads along with medical work and education. We continue to pray that we will be able to continue with our work.

It has taken me some time to decide to tell you the following story. I very seldom mention that I have been sick or under the weather because it is something that happens to all of us at some time or another. However, I have decided to let you in on the love and care I received.

About 4 weeks ago I woke up in the night not feeling well. My chest, shoulders and arms ached in an unusual way. I had shoveled a big pile of sand into our chicken yard the morning before but somehow it didn’t seem like that kind of tired muscles. Of course, when anything like that happens, I think back to my open heart surgery of 15 years ago. Anyway, I headed for church for 7 a.m. Mass, but realized that I would not be able to stand that long. I told the catechist to take over and I headed back to bed. I had no fever or aching joints associated with malaria so took a couple of Tylenol and stayed in bed.

Word got around that I wasn’t well so I got a visit from our medical staff who suggested that they test me for malaria. Surprisingly that is what I had. I began a 3-day treatment. I had no appetite so the concerned people around me tried to get me to eat some porridge so that I could take the pills. Sunday morning I was weak and people were wondering what to do to get something that I could eat. I told my office assistant Illuminata that there was nothing in the world that I was interested in, unless perhaps a bit of ice cream. I said it because I knew that it was an impossible request.

Eight or more people were in my house, separate from my room behind the office all Sunday until night. Their concern! What to do for me and how to get ice cream. Unbelievably, Illuminata called our friend Geoffry in Mwanza and asked him to go to a shop that had ice cream from Nairobi, Kenya. He bought a 2-liter carton of ice cream, wrapped it in lots of cardboard, went to the bus stand early Monday morning, put it on the bus that passes by Old Maswa. Stefano was waiting for the bus. Picked up the box, make the nearly one-hour, 14-mile drive to Nkololo. It was beyond belief when several people walked into my room with a carton of ice cream. I will never ever forget the ingenuity and love that went into that carton of ice cream. I have wondered how I would make it on my own now that I belong to the Diocese. Now I know. I will never have to make it on my own.

End of story. I love all of you too.

Easter Blessings.

Fr. Paul

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