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11 February 2012

Dear Friends,

After having had many weeks of continuous rains it is hard to believe that for 6 weeks or so a very hot, dry spell continues to turn fields brown, including rice fields that once looked like little ponds. As I am writing, some clouds have moved in and the 88 degree temperature in the office seems more tolerable. We continue to pray for rain daily but I have been disappointed that the number of people at daily Mass has not increased. Seems that the worse the dry spell gets the less people we have in church. I suspect that I might just be talking about “faith” “trust” “prayer” etc. tomorrow at Sunday Mass!

My hope for better communications is to be more consistent in writing news letters or news notes so that we can keep you better informed and our website updated. If you have not checked it out, please do so. Any suggestions for improving it would be most welcome.

We don’t have a lot to report on at this time on the future Songambele Hospital as we have yet to receive any funding to help get it started. However, we continue to pray “Jesus I Trust in You” and to make what preparations we can afford. We are hauling sand nearly every day from the Isakalyamhela “river” about 3 or 4 miles away. It is a slow process as we have already hauled the easy-to-get sand, now we have to go upstream, using wooden ramps for the front end loader to drive on so that it doesn’t get stuck. Workers have to shovel sand to make it accessible to the loader. Part of our hospital expenses and funding request will have to include a bigger front end loader as our little John Deere cannot keep up with the demands of 100s of tons of sand and rock that will have to be loaded into our Isuzu dump truck and hauled back here to Nkololo for construction. The clutch for the hydraulic pump in our 203A John Deere wore out and we expected to be in for a major expense and time delay.

Amazingly, a mechanic from Lugulu about 20 miles away came here and took our gear box apart, took the clutch to Mwanza where worn out plates were surprisingly repaired with a special glue that holds even submerged in oil. I was really concerned because I thought that I would have to have parts flown over here from the States. After so many miles on the roads hauling many tons of sand the tires on our Isuzu dump truck are wearing out and getting punctures. As you can imagine, 20-inch truck tires are not cheap! We need four of them right now!

On Monday 6 February, I said Mass for my brother Fr. Peter who died on that day 20 years ago. The patron saint of our parish is St. Peter. I reminded people of how helpful Pete had been in helping me get adjusted to the States when I went home and especially when talking in churches. We would not have such a well-developed church infrastructure without his help.

After Mass I left for Old Maswa where I met Stefano. We proceeded to go to Mwanza 115 miles from here. I had not been there for many months. I wanted to visit with my fellow priest, Fr. Masegese, who was in Bugando Hospital. In October he hurt his foot in a motorcycle accident. It did not heal properly and unfortunately he had to have his left leg amputated below the knee. He is diabetic, which complicates healing and he is not doing well.

We also had some expensive business. Seems that every trip that Stefano has to Mwanza we need medicine, vehicle spares, materials etc. This time we picked up a submersible pump with all of the wire, pressure gauge etc. that we need to get water out of our 290 foot borehole. The pump and accessories was not cheap by any means but getting a steady water supply is necessary for the hospital. Next week we will build a 10 to 15 foot high stand on which to put the 10,000 liter plastic water tank that we already have sitting here waiting to be put to use. When full it will weigh over 10 tons so we have to make sure that the stand can support the weight. We know that the foundation is the most important factor so we have dug down to rock. We have observed what others have done and then we build with a little over kill just in case!

We expect the final plans for the building for our operating suites (rooms) within a couple of weeks. While in Mwanza I went to Nyakato where a Health Center is being developed into a hospital just as we are doing. I got some ideas there and realized that we needed to enlarge out building for the operating suites. I also realized that we needed additional storage. So our architect in Dallas, Southern Ellis, is now making the final plans. We have no money to build yet but at least we can work on the foundation. The building will be about as long as our church, 110 feet. It will be a major project that someday will save 100s of lives.

Join with us in this challenging adventure in health care in any way that you can. I would appreciate getting a note from you. I do have time to read email letters! Please pass these notes on to friends who may have an interest in health care and saving lives.

Love and prayers,

Fr. Paul

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