Prayer filled greetings from St. Peter Parish in Nkololo as we continue to celebrate the octave of Easter and prepare to celebrate the universal church celebration of Divine Sunday. Our parish is the Diocesan Shrine of Divine Mercy and a place of pilgrimage. Preparations are a challenge as we never know how many people will make the journey here. Over the years we have had about 1000 people in church and many outside. We will use an outdoor speaker to help people participate. Join with us Sunday in praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and to pray the words Jesus gave us, “Jesus, I Trust in You”.
I have good news and sad news. I learned today of the passing of Ray Eckstein in Paducah, Kentucky. My brother Peter was pastor in Cassville when Ray lived there long ago. That is where a friendship of 45 years began. Ray was always interested and helpful in my multitude of projects over the years. We both loved the Mississippi River and enjoyed visiting as well as going on occasional boat trips together. Sorry to say September 2018 was to be the last time to raise a glass of champagne with him. Prayers.
Good news is that Stefano Isidory and his oldest son Everett will be traveling to the USA this year. We will fly out of Dar es Salaam together on KLM on 12 June. They will visit friends in Maryland before coming to Wisconsin and then on to Arizona to visit cousins Tom and Mary. The trip will provide a break after the unexpected death of Stefano’s 2ndoldest son Dr. Michael M.D. on 15 Oct. 2018.
Other good news is that we have Wisconsin folks, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Edwards with us right now doing whatever they can to help with work here. They will be here to welcome cousin Mary leading a group of seven visitors interested in our parish and growing Songambele hospital. We will meet them near the entrance to the Serengeti National Park on 11 May. We are working as fast as possible to finish the Songambele Hospital volunteer/visitor/benefactor housing in time for their visit. Previous visitors were disappointed that we had no work planned for them. Problem solved this year. We are giving our visitors the opportunity to paint the outside of the new house in which they will be the first visitors. Now and all the years to come our hospital will need the help of visiting medical workers to do hands on work as well as help us in organization, proper procedures etc. We also need to have benefactors visit and see where and how their donations are saving lives.
We also have a mixture of good and somewhat sad news. We have finished the basic construction ( rough floor, walls and roof ) of one of our biggest and most complicated structures, namely a complete fully functional maternity ward that includes an operating room for caesarean sections and a large delivery room. The original plan was for a children’s ward and eventually a men’s ward. However the government priority in the whole country is to improve care of mothers and infants. So I drew up new plans and now we have the potential for one of the best maternity wards in our large region and for miles around. The sad part is that we have had to stop work on the maternity ward as we have used up all available money. We cannot forget to look at our day to day expenses of the month to come. We are grateful for the many many generous donors who have enabled us to build such a wonderful hospital. Happy to say we have used all of their donations wisely and efficiently but the projects this year were big and expensive. Also a lot of funds have to go into infrastructure that is not really visible but necessary like transportation, electrical wiring, clean water, waste water disposal etc. Some of these are major expensive projects. We are very anxious to finish the life saving maternity ward but it will take quite a bit of funding to put in doors, windows, tile floors, water, electrical wiring and fixtures, sanitary facilities , beds and equip a delivery room and operating theater. God started it and will find a way to finish it I just need a lot of faith and a fair amount of good health. I have been getting injections in my eyes for macular degeneration. Here in Tanzania I have to fly 600 miles to Dar es Salaam to a hospital. I look forward to get to Wisconsin and a 60 miles drive to get the injections.
I expect to be in Prairie du Chien, WI by 15 June. My first trip will be to the eye doctor and then if the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers ever go down to a somewhat normal depth I need to get out on the rivers fishing and much needed therapy after a challenging year.