One of the members of our trip was Pastor Rich Larson from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Bayport. For the first part of the trip it felt like whenever I would refer to him as Rich someone would correct me to tell me it was Rick and then when I would refer to him as Rick someone would correct me to tell me it was Rich.
One day in Tanzania we went to the Image Lutheran Parish which is the partner congregation for Bethlehem. We also visited a hospital and a school. That evening at dinner someone asked me which part of the day was my favorite. My first reaction was that it would be like comparing apples and oranges and bananas, but probably the hospital or the school. Later, after I thought about it though, I realized my favorite part was Image Parish.
We arrived on the bus and pulled in. As we unloaded there was a group of people singing to welcome the group. We went into the church and were led up to the front where we sat facing the congregation. Leaders of the congregation were introduced and each stood up. We all introduced ourselves and received applause. There were some reports made about the partnership.
Then it was Rich’s turn to speak. He stood up at the podium and began to talk. He talked about Bethlehem and their partnership. There was frequent applause for his remarks. Then he told them he had an idea he wanted to discuss with them. Rich wanted to come back to Image and spend a more extended time with them walking with and learning about them. Rich is usually a pretty confident speaker, but as he talked about this he was pausing and seemed to search for the right words to say. He ended with asking the congregation what they would think of this idea. He didn’t get applause, he got cheers. Rich’s expression was joyous.
Afterwards as Rich was giving gifts to the congregation we saw a man coming up the aisle and leading a goat. He sat down with the goat. After Rich was done with his gifts, the man with the goat came forward. The goat was their gift to Pastor Rich. I’m not sure how much a goat costs in Tanzania, but I know this had to be a pretty significant gift.
We may look at the lives of these people and say that they are poor. And they certainly are by monetary and material measures. I left there amazed by their generosity and love and feeling richly blessed. So, think about what measures you use for people and who in this story is rich.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.