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In August 2017, several members of Holy Trinity went on missionary trips to Tanzania & Guatemala. In Tanzania, we support a local parish in Isimani and we are setting up their very first library for their school. Meanwhile, in Guatemala City, we will be visiting Fundaniños Orphanage to serve the the children who grow, attend school, and play at their home church Casa de Libertad. We’ll be purchasing school materials with your generous donations, leading games/crafts, making a special meal, offering food staples to neighbors as an outreach project, and reinforcing “living” Jesus principles while playing or solving little conflicts between children!
Please enjoy the daily updates from these mission trips. Pastor George Koch, our sitting interim Pastor, will be writing updates on the Tanzania trip. Cristina Dolcino, an International Social Ministry leader, will send updates that have been written by the youth and adults while in Guatemala.
Our final two days here in Africa have been on the Spice Island of Zanzibar. The clove plant is native here, and its quality is so pure that it is highly regulated by the government. Clove Growers must sell to the government any amount of cloves they produce over 20 lbs. The government then controls both price and and quality for this important Spice.
Other spices grown here include Pepper (green, red, white and Black), Vanilla, Cinnamon, and Cardamom. It is a wonderful, magical place.
In addition, its white sand beaches on the Indian Ocean make it a tourist Mecca, especially for our friends in South Africa and Australia who are on "winter break" now ( remember that their seasons are reversed from ours). Zanzibar has been a wonderful end to two weeks learning about Africa: both the good and bad, the rich and poor. No one who comes to Africa leaves unchanged. I will leave a part of my heart in Africa as well.
But there is an underside to the story which spans two continents and hundreds of year. And that is the story of slavery. For Zanzibar is the home of one of the most pernicious slave markets in the world where for almost two hundred years Arab, European and Indian traders - as well as native chiefs - made themselves rich by selling fellow human beings like cordwood. There are no clean hands here. Everyone benefited from the practice of slavery.
Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, begins on a boat in the Thames in London, where the narrator, Marlowe, is telling others about his trip down the "the River of Darkness"( the Congo) to meet an unsavory ivory trader, Kurtz. In the novel Conrad shows that there isn't much difference between so-called civilized people and those described as savages; Although Heart of Darkness raised questions about imperialism and racism in 18th Century Britain, it could have just as easily been talking about current events.
Our African friends wonder why America isn't living up to its message if freedom and justice for all. Remember, many of them can recall colonial rule and the lack of freedom and mobility they had at that time. They see events like Charlottesville and wonder about America's commitment to equality and opportunity.
I preached at both Isimani and Montibete over the last two weeks. At both churches I quoted St. Paul: "In Christ there is no male or female, no slave or free." He makes sure that the early church understood that in Jesus the old distinctions break down. If he walked the earth today, he would have said there is no distinction between Tanzania and American, no distinction
Between Black and White. God's love, in Christ eliminates all human distinctions. And Christ's commandment to love as we have been loved mean that our distinctions also melt away.
Our African friends know this already. They embrace us like brothers and sisters. They share what they have. And they pray for US, as a congregation and as a nation.
Because of human sin, there will always be problems like racism. But we know that God's love is greater than our sin and we look for the day that all will truly be one in Christ.
BLOGS are the first reflections of an author and they demand further reflection and thought. We will have plenty of time to reflect on this African journey into the fall.