In Tanzania for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Serving with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
The rainy season has started. As we write you, the rain, which began before we arose this morning, continues unabated. This makes it hard for the electricity to continue, which makes us grateful for the generator owned by the University – which generally brings power back a little while after it cuts out. We’re also grateful for a warm and dry house, and for the University’s work to paint and repair the house over the last month, which has helped our efforts to make this a cozy and welcoming home. It is a very gray and wet day at Makumira – the first of more than a month to come, we understand, as the annual “short rainy season” continues.
October was a month of PREPARATION, VISITS, and THANKSGIVING
We have done much to prepare for long-term living in our house. Although some of our books are on shelves, we have ordered more shelves from the Watoto Foundation, a local social service agency which houses and educates 54 former street kids, offering them a chance at a better future. We visited the Foundation during our Kiswahili class. “Watoto” means children in Kiswahili – the Foundation’s founder, a man from the Netherlands, first learned of the plight of street children in Tanzania when he studied Kiswahili at the same training center where we studied. The students learn trades, including carpentry, welding, cooking, and hotel management, along with school subjects. We look forward to our bookshelves being delivered soon. One delivery has arrived, however–Cynthia’s keyboard, which our missionary colleague Randy Stubbs offered to bring along with him! As our visas when we entered the country wouldn’t allow this as part of our luggage, we’re very grateful to Randy. Thanks be to God for supportive co-workers! Thanks be to God for the University helping us make our house a home!
We’ve both been very busy preparing to teach. Classes start on Monday, November 6, and both of us will be in the classroom that day. Mark has picked up another class – he will teach Systematic Theology I and Synoptic Gospels-Acts to undergrad students and Theology of Religions at the Master’s Level. Cynthia will teach Introduction to Christian Education (thanking God daily for the good work of Drs. Jack Seymour and Linda Vogel of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, her main professors in the Master of Christian Education program) to undergrads and Gender and the Bible at the Master’s Level. Please pray for us as we begin this important work!
As classes begin next week, New Student Orientation is going on now. Mark and I got in on a bit of it, attending the first chapel service of the new school year (which starts every day at 7:20 am) – thanking God for the ability to get up in the morning! We met the Student Body President, who was busy with many responsibilities during orientation. We were grateful to see two women students leading Chapel worship, and to see so many more people on campus. Tumaini University Makumira has over 3500 students enrolled in a host of subjects. We thank God for the opportunity to teach at this vital institution.
We were pleased to visit the Lutheran Centre, head office of the ELCT. We visited with Mr. Brighton Killewa, General Secretary, and the Rev. Anza Amen Lema, Youth Coordinator, learning much about the ELCT. The church is a very large and fast-growing church that is engaged in mission work in all of its eight neighboring countries, as well as conducting serious evangelism efforts in three mission areas in Tanzania, which may become dioceses at some point in the near future. We thank God for the opportunity to serve with such a vital communion.
We also received a visitor from the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Daniela di Mauro, part of a team from the WCC working on the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, which will be held near campus in March 2018, and the companion Global Ecumenical Theological Institute, which will gather 120 theological students from across the globe to learn together on the Makumira campus. We are grateful to God to be part of the local organizing committee. Ms. di Mauro met with Faculty of Theology Dean Angela Olotu (our boss!) and University Administrator Mr. Eliakim Lekoringo and us to plan, and then toured the campus, ending with a visit to the Cultural Arts Center, where Director Randy Stubbs greeted us. We’re looking forward to a great event in March!
We also visited Moshi, Tanzania and caught our first glimpses of Mount Kilimanjaro last month. What a thrill! We continue to thank God to live and serve in such a beautiful place.
WE GIVE THANKS FOR YOU!
We received word late last month of our first sponsoring congregation-THANK YOU, Calvary Lutheran Church, Green Bay WI! We continue to receive contributions to our missionary fundraising page-THANK YOU to all our supporters! We are grateful for all who are supporting us through the ELCA Tanzania page-THANK YOU! And most importantly, for all of you who are remembering us in your prayers, daily, weekly, and/or at worship-THANK YOU! We are still looking for congregational sponsors and individual supporters. More information on how to covenant to provide ongoing support is available here. THANK YOU!
Prayer requests: For wisdom and strength as we begin teaching; for our children, Joseph, Paul and Ella, all involved in young adult adventures in growth and learning; for Tumaini University Makumira and its ministry; for the ELCT and its many ministries; and for the people of Tanzania, many of whom live in significant poverty. Although the economy is growing fast, many people are not benefitting from this growth, and women and children are among the most economically marginalized citizens. Thank you for including us and all of these prayer concerns in your devotional and worship times. We could not be here, nor do the work we do, without your prayers and support. Thank you so much.
In Christ, Mark Rich (Mark.Rich@elca.org) and Cynthia Holder Rich (Cynthia.HolderRich@elca.org) And please follow us on Facebook: M&CinTZ