No departure from the States is ever what I hoped it would be. There were so many people that I wanted to pay a short visit to say goodbye but it didn’t happen. There were also so many phone calls that I had hoped to make and in the end I simply ran out of time and could not make them. Happy to say a few people were kind enough to phone me and say goodbye. Also, there are so many things that can only be done during the last day or two. Then it comes down to the last hour and the final minutes and one simply has to get in the car and drive away feeling bad that some things that would have been nice to do never got done. It happens every year when I leave there is no one in the house. It was much different when mom was home, but then again it was very difficult leaving her, especially in later years. It is simply part of an overseas missionary life.
My flight back was tiring but happy to say uneventful! I traveled as usual with 3 big bags and a carry on. Two bags are the normal allowance and the 3rd bag has to be paid for. Everything arrived safely and I was allowed to walk out without any inspection by customs. Stefano and Illuminata, my two right hands, were there to meet me, along with former students and friends. Stefano and I stayed at the hostel at the Tanzania Episcopal Conference Center at Kurasini It is hot in Dar es Salaam this time of year so an overhead fan in the room was welcome as well as the fact that there was electricity to make it work!
I arrived from Amsterdam late Friday night and stayed in Dar until we flew to Mwanza late Monday morning. I visited with former students and friends on Saturday, although I could have used a little sleep! Sunday more than 20 former students, two of them with their husbands, came for a late morning Mass that was followed by a party that they had planned right there at the canteen at Kurasini. I had not seen some of my students for years. Some of them had changed a lot from the days when they were skinny little Form I (Freshman) students. We had a great reunion. What I appreciated most was that some of my former students now have the means to help me a little bit in my education program. They also decided to keep in contact. The only reason most of them know each other is that they were part of my education program.
Monday night in Mwanza we had another former student get together at the Le Kairo hotel. I received gifts and they, too, decided to form a union called the Padri Paulo Family. I could not have dreamed of such events when I was ordained 50 years ago!
There have been parties and there will be more in November. Right now presidential and other elections are upon us. They will take place on Sunday so I will just have an 8:30 Mass here at St. Peter’s and not travel to an outstation where few people could attend Mass. There has already been some violence between opposing parties. One of the victims is one of my “nephews.” He was seriously wounded in a machete attack near my former parish of Old Maswa. It should not have happened but he made a poor decision. Sometimes it is better to run or just stay away from a possible confrontation.
I have done some garden work after we had two big rains that came with very strong winds that blew some roofs off. I was very happy to find that my grounds keeper had lettuce, radishes, swiss chard and mustard greens ready to eat. Other vegetables are on their way.