"First do what is necessary. Then do what is possible and the impossible will happen" Francis of Assisi
Its a long way to Tombo, Tanzania home of Sr. Margaret Mkenda, Maryknoll Sister in Bolivia. Today we are celebrating with her as she is making her final vows as a sister.
We began our journey to Rombo from Chipole, Tanzania the home of the Benedictine Sisters. From Chipole to Dar es Salaam took about 18 hours by bus. It was a long ride through forests, farm land and a National Park. The bus driver attained high speeds through the park but we did get to see two herds of elephants, many giraffes, wart hogs, zebras and gazelles.
From Dar we flew to Mwanza to attend the graduation of Melkiadi. Those of you who have been reading our newsletters will remember Melkiadi as th ekid who asked us this question. "Do you think a person can live like St. Francis today?" He asked this question in perfect English which was unusual for a 6th grader from Mwisenge parish in Musoma. I asked, How did you learn English and he answered "I study." We have sponsore4d him at Nyergezi seminary for the past 4 years. Nyegezi is on of the top secondary schools in Tanzania. We attended Melkiadi's graduation in Mwanza with his mother and two aunts. It was an exceptional day for us. As the awards were presented we were surprised when Melkiadi received the award for being the number one student. He also received the science award for being number one Hugs, pictures, congratulations and food. We celebrated this joyful occasion with the graduating studnets and families. It is amazing to me that a kid from a small town Tusoma, Mwisenge parish can be successful in competing with students from Dar es Salaam.
On our way to Rombo we left Mwanza and arrived in Musoma after a 6 hour bus ride. Musoma is the town where we spent 3 1/2 years as Maryknoll Lay Missioners. We attended the grand opening of Tupendane's new building. This is the place where women have a restaurant, sell everything from Christmas cards to renting wedding dresses. Women also build and sell coffins and sell kitchenware. Judy will be home in time to bring some cards and bags that the women make to sell at our St. Michael parish Fair Trade sale in Olympia.
We are sponsoring 13 students in high school in Musoma. We visited the guardians of these orphans, the academic dean, the teachers and the students. Together we are all working to help and encourage them in their studies. We bought solar lamps for the studnets who do not have electricitiy in their homes. On the equator there is only about 12 hours of daylight. Some of the students walk 2 hours to school and 2 hours back home. They have chores with the girls sometime babysitting, cooking, cleanign and hauling warer. We hope that the lamps will them extra time to study at night.
We learned the deeper meaning of karibu (welcome) in Musoma. When we visited home of friends we haven't seen in 2 years we are welcomed in open arms with hugs. Its more now than welcome for tea, or welcome for food, or welcme in my home. Its welcome into our hearts into our relationship with you, into our mutual love for one another.
So we left Musoma continuing on our way to Tombo through Nairobi, Kenya (a 9 hour bus ride.) In Nairobi our cab driver and his partner were lost for 2 hours. After realizing that we were in a Laurel and Hardy movie and not being kidnapped it was a tolerable experience. We arrived at the Maryknoll Fathers house, had food and a good night's sleep begore heading for Arusha, TZ over a dusty torn up road (7 hours). The next day we arrived in Rombo where it all will begin after another 6 hours by bus.
We met Sr. Margaret at Maryknoll in New York in 2003. She and Sr. Mercy, also from Tanzania were in some of our classes as we were in formation to be Maryknoll Lay Missioners. On Sept. 7, 2003, we attended her first vows as she and Mercy used the whole Maryknoll sisters chapel to dance their way in becoming Maryknoll sisters. Sister Margaret was the first Tanzanian we met. We realized there was something special in her and in the Tanzanian people. She taught us some greetings, prayers and a welcome song in Kiswahili. We recognized her complacent nature, her smile, her open heart and her immediate love for us. It is that Karibu (welcome) love that is of our very nature calling us to be one.
Its a long way to Rombo! It was a long and necessary trip, taking the buses, taxis and mini buses bumping along these possible steps along the way to Rombo as Sr. Maggie made all the necessary steps doing what is possible as she made her final vows witnessed by her fleeow sisters, family and firends in her home parish. Celebrating for 9 continuous hours beginning with Mass in her home parish. Together we open our hearts to the impossible, dancing and raising our classes and bottles with love all around us anticipating the future with lov in our hearts.
Love, Roger, Kitty and Judy