Mission Update Sept 2021 – Preparing for what’s next

GREETINGS FROM MAKUMIRA! We write on a sunny day, after many months of grey and chilly Southern Hemisphere cool weather. Spring has arrived, and we are grateful to be able to greet it here one more time.

The past month has been busy with final examinations, reading student theses, and the many meetings that are required to close out the academic year. As always, we had many exams and theses to read, comment on, and grade, and our master’s students orally defended their work. We are grateful that we will continue supervising student research after we leave in October, with both of us having continuing and new relationships with students at all academic levels.

Theses and exams, waiting to be read

We are happy to continue this part of our work in Tanzania, yet we are also preparing to leave behind many other parts of our life on this campus: dear people, good friends, wonderful ministry we have shared with colleagues. Leaving these will not be easy! We are giving away and selling many things as we prepare to return to the US. Our library—over 1500 books gathered over two PhD-holding pastors’ careers—and the bookcases we had built to hold these were received this week by the staff of the Makumira university library.

We’re grateful to be able to build up the university library here! We gave both our own books and many new volumes that many of our sponsoring congregations and other friends and supporters have given funds to purchase. We plan to revisit the University at least once a year to meet with students whose research we are supervising, so we hope to continue to build on this good foundation. Watching the books and bookcases go out the door inspired us both to remember key moments in our time here, and to thank God for this opportunity. We are also feeling melancholy as we anticipate the grief of leaving this wonderful place. We thank you in advance for your prayers as we transition to the next things God has planned for us both.

Last month, we escaped to the Indian Ocean coast near Tanga to read theses and exams, and to swim daily. We were granted beautiful weather in a beautiful part of God’s creation, to read, to think, and to enjoy the beauty God has gifted to all who live here or are able to visit.     

We are reflecting and praying a lot as we prepare for the next adventure to which Jesus calls us. The campus becomes a quiet place after the students leave. We are both engaged in research and writing, while doing needed tasks to be ready to depart next month. This quiet time, before the storm of departure and transition, is a blessing for which we are very grateful.

We continue to pray for you all. Difficult news from the US, with the pandemic, storms and wildfires, and continuing upheaval for many congregations, communities, and families, draws us to think of you all. How are you all faring? Are you back to worship in person, or online, or both? How is ministry going as the pandemic continues?

Next month, Cynthia will co-lead a day-long Bible study with Dr. Angela Olotu, the dean of the Faculty of Theology here, on “Misleading Theologies in the Tanzanian Context”. We were invited by Lutheran Mission Cooperation, an organization of all the international partners with the bishops of the ELCT. The meeting will be held here on campus, and we look forward to good conversations there. On the next evening we will board a plane to return to the U.S.!

Thank you for your continuing support, financial, notes, calls, and messages, and your prayers! Without these gifts, we surely could not have taken this journey, and we couldn’t begin to think clearly about how to journey on from this place.

Blessings on your ministries,

Cynthia Holder Rich and Mark Rich

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