I expect that my news notes will be shorter than the last one because it is 90′ F here in my office as well as in my room. The windows are open but there is no breeze. We don’t mind the heat as much as the lack of rain. Some corn crops are already ruined or damaged. The soil here is not that fertile that it can hold moisture for a long time nor is corn planted so thick that the sun cannot reach the soil. I have a big garden and lots of flowers so it take a lot of water to keep plants alive. I built a big water tank by the garden. We get good exercise dipping the water out and carrying it around the garden.
We have various building projects going on while we wait to get our fund raising underway for the hospital. Architect Masters student Southern Ellis from Texas A&M visited us for ten days in Dec. Now he is working hard on drawing up a site plan for the hospital while conferring with people with experience in medical architecture. He will also be doing 3 dimensions drawings of each building. We need all of these plans plus a lot of talent in grant writing to get this project off of the ground. I am going ahead with related projects like finishing a beautiful big laboratory plus a two bedroom guest house for future volunteers. We will need some funding soon so that we can keep moving forward. I have over 40 workers to pay at the end of the month whether they are working or not!
I was in Shinyanga for a couple of days the end of Jan. for the ordination to the Diaconate of two seminarians. They will be ordained to the priesthood sometime in August this year. I had not seen some of the priests since I returned in Oct. so it was a good chance to visit. We had a flat tire on the way to Shinyanga. That is not so unusual except that we had new tires. We had picked up a nail somewhere along the way. On our way back on 26 Jan. we were bouncing along over the rough gravel road. As we approached the bridge over the Simiyu River we saw a large crowd by the bridge along with parked buses and cars including a police vehicle. We parked behind a bus and got out to see what happened. It was not a pleasant sight. A young boy was herding cattle and getting ready to cross the bridge when a bus came around the corner. He didn’t have any choice except to watch the cattle start to enter the bridge. There was no way to stop them. Unfortunately a bus loaded with people had left Bariadi with defective brakes! Apparently they slowed some but could not stop. We were told that they killed or maimed 26 head of cattle. The dead ones were lucky. So many cows had broken legs, hooves, horns etc and were not able to move. The owner of the cows had to be taken to the hospital after he got the sad news. Eventually the cows were dragged off of the bridge and we were able to cross. I have heard nothing since then.
The news we received on Sunday morning, 30 Jan., was much worse. A Mexican missionary, Fr. Caesar, died in a one car rollover on the blacktop highway near Ng’wanangi parish. I only have 2nd and 3rd hand information. What I heard is that he had just finished Mass and was traveling to an outstation for his 2nd Sunday Mass along with two secondary student altar servers. Apparently his double cab pick-up started going off on to the gravel/dirt shoulder of the road. He must have over corrected causing the truck to roll over 3 times. Neither he nor the student in the front seat with him had their seat belts fastened and they were thrown out of the car and died as a result of their injuries. The student in the rear was injured but survived. News travels fast with so many people having cell phones. The people who had said good bye to him after his first Mass were shocked by news that came after only a very short time that he was dead. Some of them had to be taken to the hospital. He was a wonderful hard working much loved priest and is a great loss to all of us and our Diocese. He and the Pastor, Fr. Gilbert, had been together in the seminary and had come to Tanzania together. There are also 4 Mexican Sisters working at the parish.
It is a tough introduction to their new missionary venture in Tanzania.
I am getting out to outstations when possible and working with Small Christian Communities. The latter are very necessary but also difficult to keep moving forward. The Divine Mercy devotion keeps me going. To say “Jesus I trust in you” is easy, to mean it from the bottom of your heart is something else again. I do my best.