MISSION UPDATE APRIL 2020

Greetings from Columbus Ohio!

We have been busy over the past month, NOT with the things we had planned (like teaching second semester courses at Tumaini University Makumira), but busy, nonetheless. As many people are spending a lot of time at home, engaging as they can with others, we wanted to reach out and greet you all.

First, we say with joy: Christ is Risen! Hallelujah! We hope each and every one of you and your congregations had a blessed and joy-filled celebration of the truth of Christ’s resurrection. We know that your celebrations were different this year than other years—as were the last weeks of your Lenten observance, and as your life together is now.

Sunburst batik
Tanzanian Sunburst batik

While many things have changed, the reality of life as Easter people has not! We see new life in the natural world around us, and also in the incredible bursting forth of new skills, new ways of outreach and the making of community, and the blessed persistence of love we see expressed in many places—no matter what impact social distancing is having on us all! Congrats to all pastors, musicians, educators, Council members, committee chairs, and congregations who are taking this all in stride and continuing to proclaim the good news: Jesus lives, and because this is true, we live in him.

We have kept ourselves engaged while in the US. In addition to daily walks (thank you, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department!), praying and worship (thank you, everyone who is streaming and sending resources!), cooking and spending some time catching up on US television, we have been doing what we can to keep ourselves busy and out of trouble. Our activities over the past month include:

  • Preaching and Presenting: we’ve both had opportunities to preach and present. We are open to more of these! We, like many others, have been learning a lot in these days when the computer and the phone are among the few approved and safe ways of contact. And, like many others, we have found ourselves upping our game, out of necessity! And, as learning for any reason is good, we thank God. So, if you want us to preach, teach, or present at your congregation—your women’s group—your youth fellowship—your virtual VBS—or whatever—be in touch!

One particular way we are presenting is a 60-90-minute online program called Teatime with Your Missionaries. By the time you read this, we will have led this presentation a few times with a number more dates already on the calendar.

The presentation starts with a 3 minute video with music, a Palm Sunday anthem from the church in Tanzania sung by the choir of one of our students who already has earned his bachelor’s in music and will complete his bachelor’s in theology this year when the universities reopen for his final semester. (The video is attached to this email.) We continue with a power point presentation on Tanzania, the church there, and our work. We then share about what Covid-19 and the global pandemic means in Tanzania, and how we in the US can be in community with the people of Tanzania at this difficult time. News of projects to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) locally in Arusha and across Tanzania that our medical colleagues are coordinating with others, and the support needed for this project, is part of what we share in the presentation.

If you would like to have us present Teatime with Your Missionaries, or preach, or teach at your congregation—OR if you want to take an offering to support the local production of PPE in Tanzania—OR IF YOU WANT TO DO BOTH–we would love to hear from you. And enjoy the video! It includes a taste of the beauty of Tanzania’s music, land, animals, and people.

Jodi Steve masks
ELCA medical missionaries in Arusha Jodi and Steve Swanson model locally produced masks, which are hard to find and urgently needed by health care providers across the country. This work is really crucial at this moment of global pandemic.
  • Keeping in touch with our students and colleagues: We both have students doing research who have been in touch since we returned to the US. Some of them are being able to continue their research and writing while in their home villages. We’ve also heard from our university colleagues. Life on campus is quiet at present—the students are gone, worship is not happening at the chapel, the library is closed and all staff are on unpaid leave till at least mid-May. The threat of the global pandemic in many countries in Africa, including Tanzania, is exacerbated by fragile health care systems, fragile governments, and fragile economies. We pray for Tanzania, the University, and the people there each day. Thank you joining us in prayer.
Zoom call 4 20 2020
Meeting with our ELCA East Africa colleagues on Zoom, April 20: From the top L—April Trout, Cynthia and Mark, Bethany and Steve Friberg; Row 2, Daudi Msseemmaa, Mark and Linda Jacobson, Mary Jo Maass; Row 3, Jodi and Steve Swanson, Bob Kasworm, and Alex LaChapelle

Finally—we have not been in the US to enjoy spring since 2017, as our normal schedule has us returning to the US in late summer. Here are a few views of the glory of spring here in central Ohio.

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We think of you all and pray that this finds you safe and healthy. Thanks for your support! We thank God for you.

Eastertide peace and joy,

Cynthia Holder Rich and Mark Rich

 

 

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