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Neema indeed!

I remember the morning they had first come to see me. It was the same morning that Dif, the daughter of my friend Elizabeth, had come to tell me that her mom had lost consciousness and I knew Elizabeth was going to die.

Among those who had come that particular morning was a mother, with her grandmother, aunt and cousin – and a small child wrapped up in a cloth. Just looking at the child’s color I knew there was a big problem. Her skin was a sickly light brown color and her lips were gray as were her fingernails. And she had been slipping in and out of consciousness.

Treasures

Sixty thousand shillings -- it's not much more than thirty five dollars these days -- and yet, in many respects in this place and at this time, it is truly an unbelievable amount of money. It is without a doubt a tremendous amount of money for the pastor of a small congregation of believers in the little village of Taweta. A incredible amount of money for that pastor to bring to Anyisile, and together with the elders of the church, to say that we have taken up an offering and want to bring this money, as our offering unto God, for the building of the school for the children of this village.

Christmas has come early to Madisi this year

Idda danced a little jig while she sang a song about God’s goodness and how God’s grace had saved her. Her face beamed. The words in her song were her own and they just flowed spontaneously and sincerely and joyfully from within her. What was remarkable about her little dance and song is that it was just a few months ago that Idda was paralyzed on one-half of her body and she had completely lost her ability to communicate. Dr. Leena told me that it was most likely encephalitis.

... and then to see Neema

Where had Neema gone? We were out visiting the sick in Mwefu village, and following up on those who had just started taking ARVs, but Neema wasn’t there at her house. Neema has been part of our lives for eight months now, and not once have I gone to her home and not found her bed-ridden, in real pain with TB, sores, swollen legs and anything and everything else that goes along with merciless AIDS. When the doctors and nurses had come for a "training day" to explain how to take the ARV medication and how to stay healthy, I sent Jovinus with my little car to go get her.

Three hundred trees!!

Fruit! Fruit of any kind – avacados, oranges, guavas! Fruit is so welcomed, and so needed, by my friends in these villages who are living with HIV/AIDS. For some, when they have lost all appetite for food, they often can be coaxed back into eating with a little fruit, and so it’s been my habit when I go visiting people whenever I see fruit for sale I always buy whatever I can find so I have some just in case I need it for someone. And for those who are getting better, especially for the children, fruit gives that added nutrition and vitamins that help make the medicines effective.

The little black plastic bag

Soon after I walked through the door into their little home, I recognized the little black plastic bag, now scrunched up with only a very little milk powder remaining in it. Where could they have possibly gotten that bag from?

I had been teaching in the classroom that morning when I recognized a familiar face at the window. It was Chesco from the village of Ikaning’ombe. He was bringing me news that there was a two-week old baby in that village who hadn’t nursed since she had been born. Please come ….

Every last little bit of that reddish dust

This is the time of year when everything is covered with a thick layer of reddish dust -- I think the last time it rained was in May. The plants -- the cows -- my hair! -- everything lives with the reality that the world has turned to red dust. It is even more so with my vehicle -- on most days you can only barely perceive that it is blue. It has become an accepted part of life – dust in the dry season – no problem. Best to just ignore it and not even try to fight a losing battle against the reddish dust that cakes everything this time of year. Most of the time anyway.

Turning words into metal roofing

I can see myself one day much more of "an old man" than I am now, walking a bit slower than I do now, with Grace walking on my left and Little G on my right. Those two little kids will be grown up then, they'll have gone to kindergarten and primary school and secondary school, they'll be at the age when they'll be thinking about what they want to do with their lives, and I'm planning out how I'm going to call the two of them to go on a walk with me.

Back to sending me messages again

It has been nearly 72 hours without any word from Godfrey and Emmanueli. It was three days ago that I got their last rushed text message to let me know that they were beginning to descend the mountains, Yatima (our car) in the lead, Tunda (one of our dump trucks) following slowly behind. We all knew we would probably be without any contact for a long time. But then the hours dragged into a full day, then into two full days.

April Highlights from Tanzania

April 1-2: Village Schools Canada was among the mission agencies invited to participate in MissionFest, a 2-day gathering in Toronto of Christians interested in missions. Andrew Hutchinson, after serving with VSI for a year in the little village of Kising'a, returned home to Canada and founded VSC, opening the door for people in Canada to make donations for the work in Tanzania and for churches in Canada to be able to send out missionary teachers to serve in Tanzania.