Dormition 2011 Update

Dear friends,

Sisi tuliona utukufu wake kwa macho yetu wenyewe.
We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
– 2 Peter 1:16

Greetings from Mwanza, where I have returned after several weeks in the hills of rural Muleba District in Kagera Region. In the three weeks leading up to the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor, more than one hundred Orthodox Christian young people from the Muleba countryside gathered at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in the hamlet of Ibale for our annual Archdiocesan youth seminar.

It was my joy to participate in preparation for the seminar, as well as to assist in hosting the Finnish Orthodox Mission/ OCMC Team which taught Christian education during the ten days leading up to the Feast of the Transfiguration. The Archdiocese of Mwanza works very hard to integrate foreign visitors into our ongoing projects, and it was a delight for me to be together with this Team as they settled right into sharing their lives with local youth in a fairly rustic and difficult setting. The sacrificial love that they brought with them, and their willingness to lay aside their own cultural baggage and learn to see the world through Tanzanian eyes, was of special encouragement to me. In a future email, I hope to tell you more about the Team Members.

Caring for 100+ young people and a dozen foreigners in rural Tanzania for three weeks is no joke. Our local infrastructure consisted of: one church, one house, one creek, and plenty of rolling hillside. So we chopped down hundreds of eucalyptus trees to make tent poles, constructed huge tents for classrooms and for sleeping, brought in mattresses and water tanks and a towering truckload of firewood. Every day, between or after classes, the young people took turns walking to the creek and hauling water- in buckets on their head- back to camp to refill the water tanks. With no refrigeration, I ended up going grocery shopping almost daily- each day, the market is in a different hamlet, and you never know what you’re going to get. Once we found some really amazing catfish (long as your arm), and that was a treat.

God provides, and both the youth and the visitors stayed in good spirits despite various difficulties. Nearly every night we danced for hours to drums, singing songs that had been composed especially for the event. Until the moon got too bright, the Milky Way was visible overhead so clear that it might have been daytime clouds. And now the young people are back in their homes, teaching others the things that they learned about Christ, about themselves, and about their faith.

What’s next? Plans. Reports. Budgets. We’re starting to prep for something brand-new- a series of rural clinics in Mwanza Region which will be staffed by an OCMC Health Care Team in October. I look forward to receiving the Team, along with fellow OCMC Missionaries here in Western Tanzania, and to caring for them while they are with us.

It is good to be here. It was a special refreshment to be with the youth and our foreign guests up in the hills, to catch a glimpse of the glory of God, and to return to the daily routine of life as an eyewitness of that majesty. May it be borne also in your hearts.

Thank you for your prayers. They are felt, and their effect is plain. Thank you for your friendship, for your encouragement, and for your consistent and generous financial support. I am here because of you.

Stay in touch!

By your prayers in Christ,

James Hargrave


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