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28 November 2010

Dear Friends,

It was 90F or so today. Hopefully, it will cool down some as we just got 1/4“ of rain and it looks like there is more to come. We pray for rain every day, but we did so with special emphasis yesterday and today on being truly sorry for our sins before we dare to ask God for his blessings.

I had hoped to get some seeds planted today but it was so hot and dry that I decided to wait. Maybe I will manage later on. It is 5:20 p.m. right now. I just stopped for a while to work with my helper Makoye. We moved a couple of hens to our brooder house and are trying to get them to sit on eggs that we want to hatch out. We only have about a dozen small chicks now and need to get more coming along. We have 102 chickens that are pretty well grown. We need enough eggs to sell to pay for raising the chickens!

We have some busy days coming up before Christmas. On Monday, 29 November, Fr. Charles Bundu from near Shinyanga will come for 5 days to give retreats/days of recollection to my workers plus those working in the Health Center. I also want to have him spend a day with our choir. With so many workers we have internal conflicts that separate people into groups. We can’t let that happen. We have so much work ahead of us that we have to be unified. Every day brings new challenges. Without our Divine Mercy prayer “Jesus, I trust in you” life would be difficult.

On 6 December we go to Musoma, where our novice Marita Mgosa will make her first vows with the IHSA Sisters. She is our first vocation to the religious life in our 3-year-old parish. After that we have a charismatic lay leader coming with a helper to encourage our people in prayer as well as to have healing services, which attract a large number of people.

At the same time we are looking forward to having with us for 10 days Southern Ellis, a graduate student who we met when we visited the Architectural Department of the University of Texas A&M. I have been drawing up plans for buildings for 30 years but laying out the site for our proposed Songambele Hospital and drawing up lots of building plans is more than I can handle. I also must run the parish and do development projects, plus correspondence, newsletters and phone calls. I still use graph paper, though I would like to have time to learn to use some of the great computer programs they have for planning buildings. I doubt that Southern will have any spare time to teach me. The way we get work done is to get someone else to do it and that is what I do when possible.

Yesterday, Friday the 26th, we celebrated my 50th anniversary of ordination here at Nkololo Center. We already had celebrations at the other 3 Centers. Along with some money, different outstations and Small Christian Communities brought 20 bags of cement, 100’s of feet of building rods, lots of shovels, a couple of picks and other building materials. My workers gave me, among other things, 50 fifty-kilo bags of cement. Former students that got together here also gave me 50 bags (2 1/2 metric tons of cement). Those 100 bags have already been used in making cement blocks and in finishing our big laboratory.

Friday started with unwanted excitement. To make a long story short. a man was falsely accused of stealing some chairs. Actually, he had given them to his girlfriend. When he found out that she had another boyfriend, he loaded up the chairs on his bicycle. In anger the woman cried thief and threw money on the ground to make it look like he was stealing money, too. These days when the cry goes out (in Sukuma we say “ng’wano”) it is often a death sentence for a thief. He will be chased, beaten with sticks, stoned, hacked with a machete and all too often burned.

The amazing part of the story is that this man is still alive, although in the District hospital. Fortunately, he was very muscular and survived a beating that would kill most of us. He may have fractured collarbones but his arms and legs survived. He had a bad cut on his head from a rock. During the chase he managed to get into the Seventh Day Adventist church but they dragged him out. Then he got into the local court house but again was pushed out. They were walking him on the road past the parish when he unbelievably had enough strength to run up our driveway and get into St. Peter church, where he collapsed and was stretched out behind the altar. An angry mob of hundreds plus hundreds of school children gathered around the church doors. A few of the raucous young men, who wanted blood, came a little ways into the church but we were able to get them out. Our beautiful church with the 5-foot high image of Christ the Divine Mercy is quite impressive as are all of the other decorations we have. With God’s help and that of the local government officials, they retreated a bit and we closed the doors. It was a dilemma for me as I didn’t know the truth of the matter (that he was not a thief – we found that out later). I used my cell phone to call our medical staff and ask them to quickly get to the church and start an IV plus clean up some of the blood so that we could assess the damage. Stefano was in Bariadi and I asked him to send the police out because of the mob that was waiting outside. Fortunately, they finally left, knowing that the police were coming.

The good news is that we got the IV going and that helped a lot. The police came and we felt relieved. We already had him on the ambulance mattress so that made it easier to get him on the stretcher and into our ambulance. The nurses went with him and kept the IV going. An armed policeman accompanied our ambulance that was taking the man to the District Hospital. The police went to the site of the alleged crime. They arrested the woman who almost had the man killed. She is in jail and he is in the hospital where he is able to talk but is still in a lot of pain. Our ambulance driver just came back from the hospital and said that he will survive and that he knows that he was saved by our efforts. Most victims are not that blessed. We attribute the blessing of saving a life to our Shrine of Divine Mercy. God continues to bless us in many ways.

The project looming over us now is a hospital. We are going to need a lot of help in many ways. Join us in our prayer, “Jesus I trust in You.”

Love and prayers and a blessed Christmas season. I will be busy so am writing now. Please drop me a note. I do have time to read whatever you write. Just don’t send any pictures!

Fr. Paul

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