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3 April 2011

Dear Friends,

It has been awhile since I finally got enough gumption to sit myself down in front of my computer for any length of time. No inspirations showed up until this great day came along, April Fools’ Day 2011, or as we say here in Kisukuma,“lushiku lwa bajinga”. As far as I know, no one has “April Fooled” me. Nor do I have any plans to do such a thing.

Perhaps there are just too many serious things going on to be fooling around. Just now I came back from church where a small group of us said the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 p.m., the hour at which we remember our Lord’s death on the cross. Hopefully, many others stopped for a moment and bowed their heads in remembrance of that great moment of salvation. We have Stations of the Cross and Mass at about 5 p.m. as today is Friday. Attendance today may be poor because of the weather.

I got back to the office just in time to close windows before rain began to pour down. We have been getting rain almost every day now after having a devastating dry spell that damaged many crops. My garden is thriving along with the many flowers and bushes that surround us. We have lots of trees on our l3-some acres, and they have really grown now that they are well rooted.

The highlight of this past four weeks was a visit by Fr. Herb Gappa, M.M., a native of Urbank, MN. He was not only my good neighbor for 25 years but was instrumental in making one of my dreams come true, namely to build St. John parish in Bariadi town. That was for years one of the four Centers in my 1200 some sq. mile parish of Old Maswa. While visiting here he spent much of his time in the Bariadi area meeting with the two priests in the parish plus many parish and government leaders brainstorming for ways to assist in the growth of a rapidly expanding city. The chickens and goats that feared for their lives while he was visiting are happy to see him go, but not so for the rest of us.

Tomorrow we expect a group of Tanzania Young Christian Students here for a 10 a.m. Mass and a get together. There are 7 Secondary Schools within our parish. However, with the rainy weather I won’t expect a big crowd. We also have a meeting for all of the catechists in the parish. We have a great dearth of catechists making it difficult to spread the Good News in all of the villages in the parish. Our response to the problem was a decision to have classes for catechists for a couple of days a month in an attempt to attract new catechists and encourage the older ones. A number of people are willing to try but have no confidence in themselves as they have no training. I have already bought a number of books and have catechists who are school teachers who will help in teaching.

You will find pictures attached that show you the laboratory that we have built and that we expect to open as soon as possible after we get registered by the Ministry of Health in Dar es Salaam. Stefano is in Mwanza right now and will return with a rather expensive Austrian manufactured solar powered chest type refrigerator that we will use for storing blood for life saving transfusions. We will work with the local hospital and the referral hospital of Bugando in Mwanza to assist us in having safe blood.

We are also building a small house with two bedrooms, a living room plus a utility room. Each bedroom will have an attached latrine and shower (having of course hung up a bucket overhead that has a showerhead attached and in which the visitor has put warm water heated on a stove). We are trying to get prepared for volunteers who may come to help us, not so much in building the hospital, but to help us learn how to manage it and have proper supervision. We have hauled 100’s of tons of sand and made more than 14,000 cement blocks in preparation for building the hospital and staff housing. I would still be making blocks but I can no longer afford at this time to buy the cement and pay the other costs involved in making blocks by hand one at a time. The well of donations is getting too low.

Mr. Southern Ellis, a Masters of Architecture student from Texas A&M visited us last year. He now has a site plan almost complete and has been consulting with experts in building design so that we will have the best in design for constructing our operating theater, ICU, wards, administration building, dental, eye and mother child health clinics plus related buildings. We could not think of undertaking such a big project without the invaluable assistance of the Architectural Department of Medical Facilities at Texas A&M plus the expert help of the WellShare International of Minneapolis who have been doing health work for dozens of years. We will also be receiving beds and equipment from the Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach program based in Springfield, IL Our limiting factor right now is that we are still in the process of preparing to write up funding grants so have yet to get any funding. We have to have our act together before we venture out into the funding world.

I have nearly exhausted what funds I was able to raise last year, using remaining money to keep workers busy so they can earn their salaries that I have to pay at the end of every month just like everyone else. Our Divine Mercy prayer “Jesus I Trust in You” keeps me going.

I am anxious to get home the end of June so that I can get prepared for my annual visits to parishes to update them on our hopes and fears and progress as well as to pray with them. I also can’t wait to get in a little fishing time, plus the quiet time that goes with sitting in the boat under a tree on the beautiful Wisconsin River, sometimes with nary a soul in sight.

Bye. I have to go to church for Stations of the Cross and Mass. As always you are all in my daily prayers.

Love and prayers,

Fr. Paul

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