Barbara Miller, Women of the ELCA executive board member, recently returned from a Women Building Global Community travel seminar to Tanzania. She spent a few extra days there. This blog is a letter she wrote home to her husband while she was away.
I have seen so many developments! More women leaders in more influential positions. More consistent electricity, more running water. In Arusha, I heard a resident say, and I certainly experienced, “more people, more cars, same roads.” Lots of congestion and exhaust fumes in the slow traffic but the upside in my mind was more business, more schools, more clinics, more access to food and goods. I saw roadside produce stands in town.
I was again pleased to see Christians and Muslims together as schoolmates, colleagues, mingling in shops and on the streets.
Our women’s group went to the usual Lutheran institutions, much expanded now: Mwangaza, offering teacher education and partnerships and many programs such as the Binti-Mama (Daughter-Mother), and Makumira (Tumaini University), where most of the pastors we met went to seminary and where we were entertained and enriched by a performance of singers and dancers attached to the new music department.
We drove to a remote community I had not heard of before—Same (SAH- may) where we helped pass out Lutheran World Relief goods at a new small, humble school. What a connection—to have made school and personal care kits and helped make quilts and then to greet and meet the recipients and their two teachers. What a privilege. The students and leaders were very happy and grateful, as we were.
During this week I considered my Christianity . . . how would I fare acting out my faith without the comforts I’m accustomed to? Would I prefer to sit home rather than walk or take an over-crowded bus to worship and offer encouragement to a group of young women? Would I leave my nursing infant at home while I fulfilled my responsibility as the ELCT (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania) director of women’s desk? How feeble or hardy am I in following Jesus? Would I choose to teach in a mud brick, two-room structure with no washroom facilities?
I’ll have to ponder that. I hope you are doing well!
Jesus is alive and well in the parts of Tanzania we’ve visited!
All my love,
Barbara Miller serves on the churchwide executive board. She lives in Washington, Mich.
Photo of Barbara Miller with her Welcome Home balloons. She’s wearing a dress made in Dongobesh, Tanzania.