My daughter and father-in-law used to play April Fool’s tricks on each other. It was all in good fun, something we laugh and tell stories about. Alicia started it one year by telling her Grandpa that his truck in the driveway had a flat tire. He went running out to the driveway. Alicia followed so she could say, “April Fools” at the right moment. The next year Alicia was told the wheel of her bike had fallen off.
The culmination of these tricks was a grand performance by Alicia. It was on a Sunday after we had been to church. We were going to stop in to see Grandpa Jim and Grandma Bub. While the rest of us waited in the car Alicia went up to the house. She arrived breathlessly showing up at his door claiming, “my parents left me at church.” She told them we thought she was going home with a friend, but her friend had already left. So, we had left without her. She had run all the way to their house. Chaos ensued or so I have been told. Alicia waited until they had picked up the phone to call us before saying, “April Fools!”
I am reminded of the story in chapter 22 of Genesis. You remember this story. God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham obeys and at the point where he is about to kill his son an angel stops him. Because Abraham obeyed God he is given many blessings. Abraham loved God so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son.
I remember the first time I heard this story, sitting towards the back of St. Bonaventure in Bloomington. I was horrified that God would do that. I mean asking someone to kill another person. And then, stopping them at the last possible instant? God and Abraham, this had to be the worst April Fool’s joke ever. Can you imagine Isaac sharing a laugh later with his dad about the time he was going to slit his throat? How could God do that? And what sort of parent would send their own child to die? Wouldn’t that be the hardest thing imaginable?
There is a literary technique called foreshadowing. It can mirror something that happens later in the story. The best ones also give some understanding of the events to come. You’ve probably heard the Bible described as the greatest literature ever. Well the story of Abraham sacrificing his son has to be the greatest foreshadow ever.
God, the Father, sends his son to earth to be sacrificed. It was a hard thing to do. But, because God’s love for us is so strong, because He wants us to be in heaven and not separated from Him due to our sins, Jesus is sent to die for us.
magine turning on your water tap and nothing happening. What would you do if you didn't have water available just by turning a handle marked "H" or "C"?
I composed that opening for my blog on Sunday night as I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to come. Monday morning there was a notice from the city water department on my door when I opened it to retrieve my paper. It said that they were repairing a water main break and they would be shutting off the water from 8:30 that morning until early afternoon. For a large part of the day I was living the situation I described above.
We are truly blessed to have the water system we have. It comes from the work of many people. Others in this world are not as fortunate. Hundreds of millions of people do not have access to safe drinking water. The leading cause of death for children under five years old is diseases from unsafe drinking water. Wednesday, March 22 is World Water Day. A day set aside by the UN to raise awareness of water issues.
While I was in Tanzania I became aware of how much we take our water system for granted. Most nights we stayed at the Lutheran Center in Iringa where we had running water. We also spent a couple nights in staying in the village of Mwatsi where we had 5-gallon buckets of hot and cold water delivered to the guest house in the morning. And no, they don't be a water heater like we're used to. For us to get hot water in the morning it was heated over a fire.
Mwatsi is fortunate to have had a water system that was built by St. Paul Partners (www.stpaulpartners.org), an organization that works to provide safe water and health education in partnership with local communities in Tanzania. Unfortunately, there was a construction accident that cut off water to the taps that were nearest to the guest house. The water they provided to us came from a tap that was about a half a mile away. Then there would be a half a mile walk back carrying the water.
It was a common sight from our bus to see women and children walking to or from water carrying buckets. While we have water available anytime we need it night and day, that's not the case for many people. They carry buckets to their water to be filled. If they're lucky there's a well, sometimes it's a stream. Someplaces the water is clean, someplaces not. Once they fill their bucket they have to take it home. It takes us under a second to get water. It takes them many hours every day.
Someday we will have a world where clean water is available for everybody. It will take a lot of little steps to get there. One that I've seen that encouraged me was at my own church. Shepherd of the Hills' companion congregation Kidamali mentioned that one of their preaching points needed a well for water. So, we started the process with St. Paul Partners and were told the cost would be $4,500. Shepherd decided to devote the offerings taken at our Wednesday Lenten services to this. The response has been tremendous. We should reach our goal to fund the well at Nyamihuu. It is a little step on the way to the goal. I am so blessed to be a part of such a giving congregation. [Update: The goal was reached and surpassed. The extra money will be used to help Kidamali in other ways.]
Whenever you turn on your water, remember how blessed you are.
There was a point in time where my most commonly used vocabulary word was “what.”
I’d known for years that my hearing was not very good. I worked for a manufacturing company and all employees had to have their hearing checked because of the noise in the shop. My tests always came back showing that I had hearing loss with higher frequency sounds. That makes it hard for me to distinguish between some sounds.
I noticed that I was having conversations where I was politely nodding and saying “yes” without really understanding what the other person was saying to me. Or I would figure out what they had said later after it was too late to respond.
Finally, Debbie talked me into looking at hearing aids. I had one tryout that didn’t work. After some time, with my family getting more frustrated with me, I went to another place. The audiologist there worked with me and explained that a different type of hearing aid would work best with the type of hearing loss I have.
This time the one that I used worked well. The first time I walked out of my audiologist's office I was noticing the sound of my shoelaces as I walked. It took some time to get used to having them in my ears, but I eventually got used to them.
I could tell that they were working and helping my hearing. Either that or Debbie and the kids all stopped mumbling.
Still I wasn’t sure exactly how much they helped. One morning I was listening to an audiobook on my phone as I was putting in my hearing aids. It wasn’t as a test; it was more from a suspenseful book. I put the first one in and it was amazing the difference I could hear from that.
My hearing aids have two settings. I can pick the second setting when I need more of a boost.
When I go to the theater I can boost them to hear the actors better. If you think you see me scratching behind my ear, I may be adjusting the setting.
I love being able to hear better. I have more confidence in talking to people; it helps when you can understand what they’re saying. If you find yourself saying "what" a lot, consider having your hearing checked.
Flying into Tanzania our plane stopped at Kilimanjaro Airport. I was sitting on the aisle. There was a man sitting next to me and a woman by the window. As we taxied all I could see out the window was the wing of the plane and the runway. The man and the woman were looking out the window towards the gate. The man turned to the woman and said, “Caribou.” I thought, "that’s amazing, I didn’t realize they had Caribou Coffee in Tanzania." Then I realized he had said “karibu” which is the Swahili word for welcome.
We heard a lot of music in Tanzania. Whenever we arrived somewhere and got off the bus it seemed like there was always a group of people singing a song that included the word karibu.
Many churches in Tanzania were upgrading their sound system. Apparently, the younger generation likes electronic amplified sound. So the traditional choirs are slowly changing. At one parish we went to they were having trouble with their sound board. Finally they got it solved. The music started and the four or five people in front started singing along with the music. However, we quickly realized that they were lip synching.
At our next stop the choir sang with a few drums to accompany them and they sounded fantastic. After they sang they told us that they wanted to get a sound board and speakers. This was the last thing we all thought they needed.
I can’t really do the music justice trying to describe it in words. Instead, I’d like to include some with this post.
The first is at Kidamali; before we went up to the church the choir sang to us outside the pastor’s house. I’m sorry. I always try to tell myself to not pan too fast when I do a video, but sometimes my brain doesn’t listen to itself. I apologize for my fast panning.
This one is from the worship service at Kidamali and includes a traditional dance. You can get a good view of the church in this also. See if you can see the kids looking in the window to watch. My translator told me that Pastor Kisoma said people had complained about there being some stones sticking out of the dirt floor. So, they would try to fix that with this dance.
This one is not a video, but a recording of the students at Image Lutheran School singing to us. The song starts about 20 seconds in.
Here’s a choir at one of the preaching points we visited.
This is a group that showed up to sing and dance for us as we were looking at the water system in Mwatasi.
Last week I posted about scholarships in Tanzania. I talked about how scholarships are a triple gift to the student, the community and the school. And then I dropped the ball and didn’t include any instructions on how to donate. I’ve updated that post to include the instructions and I’ll also include them here.
If you are interested in making a donation for scholarships check with your local Saint Paul Area Synod ELCA Lutheran Church to see if they have a companion parish or you can send donations to: Bega Kwa Bega c/p Saint Paul Area Synod, 105 University Ave. West, St. Paul, MN 55103.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.