Sunday, October 19, 2008
Today I am to speak at Reverend Mwenebalongo's church. Remember the lean to I spoke of earlier? That is the church. Some poles stuck in the ground with a metal corrugated roof. Except they have outgrown that, so attached beyond that is a tarp to give more protection from the sun. The seating is plastic chairs. The type we use here for outdoor garden parties. These chairs look like they have seen one to many party. They are split and broken. Where they can, they have drilled small holes into the plastic and lashed the chairs together. There is not a single chair that any one of us would keep.
Since I am not a preacher by any stretch of the imagination, I chose to share the Romans's road to Salvation. I am sure every one already knew it.
After the service, the women once again prepared lunch. For just us and a Pastor who visited from the Assembly of God in Dar es Salaam. I feel so guilty accepting food when there are so many outside who will not eat.
After lunch, Pastor Mwene and his elders asked Pastor Msoshi and I to meet with them for a few minutes. They gave us a report and a prayer request. The most urgent is of money. These people have NONE. The church is compromised mostly of students, many of them Congolese refugees. Of the few families that attend, 10% are unemployed. Since the church began, they have been able to save $200.00 towards their building fund. The also would like to have a PA system and musical instruments.
After we returned to the Hostel, I went outdoors. I am trying to comprehend all that I am seeing and experiencing. I am sitting in an oasis, outside of the garden wall is abject poverty. I see scores of people who seem to be aimless. I see piles of rubble where once stood homes. We were told the government bulldozed them down. I do not know where the people went, except maybe they are the ones I see on the road above the ruins. What I see is desolation and despair.
Rebeka is having a difficult time with everything. She explained to me how every ones skin is dry and brittle because of malnourishment. She told me that when she hugged her son and daughter in law, they were just skin and bones. Her son said they eat little because they need to feed the children. There is so much need and I am overwhelmed. Who do I help? Rebeka's son asked me to help him purchase needed supplies to be able to work in a salon. He was trained as a hairdresser in South Africa, but since he does not have supplies, he cannot work well.
I met an Benedictine Nun last night. She lent me her electricity converter so I could recharge my camera battery. We talked for a while and then tonight she joined me while I was sitting outside writing. She has traveled the world as a Nun and helped me tremendously with the guilt I am beginning to feel. Most definitely, I cannot be of any help if I allow myself to become overwhelmed with guilt. I am wondering though, if I feel this bad right now, how will I ever be able to handle the camps. Please God give me strength.
Tomorrow we leave for Kigoma and the camps.