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Letter to Drowned Missionary from the Priest he saved

Dear Adam,
What can I say to a friend who lost his life while saving mine? It’s hard to articulate my feelings in words. Adam, you are a saint who lived next to my room. I never realized how big your heart was. Many a time you sacrificed your time and resources for me and for others. Little did I know this was in your very nature, generous to the fullest!

On Tuesday, 20th of March, at 14:03 I walked with you the Road to Hawai beach as we used to. We entered to swim in the Indian Ocean as you taught me to. We walked quite a distance into the sea because the tide was law low.  We kept on telling stories about our families, our missions and appreciated how lovely the day was.

At 15:50, I saw that it was time to leave. I signaled you and you nodded that we start moving. You were comfortably swimming and you enjoyed it as always.

I realized as I made my way to the shore that the sea had become deeper and waves stronger. I reached a point where I could no longer swim and I felt I was being pulled down. I realized I was drowning. I called for your help Adam! I saw you racing to save me. You never for a second thought about yourself. All concern and focus was all about saving me! I clearly recall you calling me three times Cycus!Cycus! Cycus! Don’t Panic! You immediately began removing your Snorkel diving Mask to aid me breath. You gave me the air pipe first. Then more waves came. You instructed me that we swim together a bit from a higher tide as I held on the air pipe and you remained with the mask. Your mind, even at this was all about saving my life. You helped me swim a few meters. Adam, you pushed me out of a dangerous place to a safer point by using all the energy you had. A strong wave separated that bond and that was the last touch we held. I heard you shout my name twice. I never heard your voice again.

Adam, where you pushed me I found my legs could reach the ground. I never moved an inch I stayed. You left mean air pipe without a mask. It seemed useless but you knew it would be very instrumental.  For sure it did save me because it’s the only tool I could use to wave as I called for help. I was located thanksto that pipe. I was rescued from the very safe place you left me, I didn’t move. So good a heart that I have no words to describe.So good that even in your death you never wanted anybody to suffer. You gave us all the clues where to find you even if you were swept very far. I held your hand pulling you from the sea. How I wished I could return the favour, saving your life, but you had sacrificed it all.

Thank you Adam for giving me your life. Thank you, thank you and thank you. I remain indebted to you and will keep on praying for you and I ask you to share with me that big generous, selfless and loving heart you inherited from your parents.

May God bless and console your mother who brought such a beautiful soul into this world. I will forever be grateful to her. My life is and will always be a testimony that there are saints living among us who, like Christ are ready to give up their lives for others. May God bless your brother and give him the consolation. Adam, together with your father rest in eternal peace till we meet. Bravo my friend and my brother for being Christ like in saving my life.

Eternal rest grant to Adam oh Lord and may your perpetual light shine upon him.

Your Friend and brother
Fr. Chungu Cycus C.S,Sp

Maasai Missionary Drowned

A terrible thing happened earlier this week. One of the two Society of African Mission missionaries that was scheduled to open the new Maasai mission at Malambo with Fr. Arkado of Olbalbal drowned. The 35 year old SMA priest was attending a six month renewal program near Dar es Salaam. The program is being sponsored jointly by the Spiritans and SMA’s. Adam, the drowned priest, was due to join Arkado at Malambo in June.

Adam went swimming with with a Congolese Spiritan at a beach near the sisters convent where the course is being held. Both strong swimmers, they swam a good distance from the shore. The Congolese Spiritan began to tire and got into trouble. Adam came to his aid and managed to help him reach a point nearer the shore where the Congolese could touch bottom. Just then a huge wave appeared, separating them and taking Adam away. What happened next is unclear but Adam was not seen again till his body was washed up on shore some distance down the beach. The Congolese managed to reach shore and cry for help. With his very limited Swahili, he tried to make some fisherman understand that his “brother” was taken by the water and needed help. The fisherman refused to help till they would be paid $100 that the Congolese Spiritan didn’t have. I think that the refusal of the fishermen was due mostly to their not fully understanding the situation. Tanzanians are usually very friendly and helpful especially in difficult situations. He called the renewal center on his cell phone but they arrived to late to help.

Fr. Arkado flew to Poland yesterday with the ashes of Adam. The funeral is due to take place this Wednesday in Adam’s home town in Poland. Fr. Arkado has been with me here at Olbalbal for four years. He will now open a new Maasai mission at Malambo some two yours North of us here at Olbalbal. Sadly, Adam will not be joining him there.

Fr. Arkado leaves Olbalbal for Malambo

We had the send off for Arkado today. Many people came from our different places and we had a good liturgy with plenty of singing. Arkado received many gifts, a goat, honey, blankets and other stuff. Afterward there was rice, potatoes and meat for everyone. He leaves tomorrow.

Arkado found this Black Mamba in his room at 10 PM when preparing for bed.

Fr. Arkado is now leaving Olbalbal to open a new Maasai mission with two other Society of Africa Missionsries. Arkado and I have been together for the last four years here at Olbalbal. He has been a tremendous asset to the Maasai work and a good person to live with. We will miss him but are thankful that the Maasai work is expanding.

Leopard injures goats

At the Maasai village next to us here, a leopard attacked and badly injured three goats yesterday. It happened at night in the goat pen at the center of the village. It is an open pen that the leopard entered by jumping the low thorn bush fence surrounding the “emuata.” The young warriors heard the commotion and were up in a flash chasing the leopard away. It looks like all three goats will recover after an application of the tar like local medicine on their wounds.

Now all the goats are being brought into the houses at night. These attacks are becoming more and more frequent.

Young mother gored

A couple of days ago a young mother, her baby just a month and a half old was bored in the stomach by a buffalo while gathering firewood. She lives in the same area, Lolmunyi, as the man kicked by the donkey that I wrote about in my recent blog. This is a very unusual event because in Maasai country a new mother does not normally do any work for at least three months after giving birth.

Maasai women are constantly on the go, drawing and carrying water, cutting and gathering firewood, caring for the young cattle, sheep and goats, repaired her cow dung house and cooking the evening meal. A big part of her life also revolves around finding something to cook for that evening meal of corn porridge or wild spinach.

This young woman’s family lacks anyone to help her so she had to go for firewood and water. Thus, she she had the bad luck of meeting a Buffalo and was gored in the stomach. She is in the hospital at Karatu some two and a half hours drive from Olbalbal. She is slowly recovering there. Her mother passed by the mission this morning looking for help so that she could travel to the hospital in Karatu and be with her daughter.

Donkey Trouble

It was early morning at Loromunyi, a forested area high above the plains at Olbalbal. Losetu and his wife Ngoyo left their village driving a small group of donkeys to draw water. Each of the small grey bests was loaded with two five gallon plastic containers in leather saddle bags. The donkeys were irritable and very thirsty, one small grey mare especially so. She was always bad tempered. This donkey never missed an opportunity to give another donkey a solid kick when she had a chance. Nearing the spring, the small herd of donkeys jostled each for the chance to have the first taste of the sweet spring water. The mare saw her chance and let loose with a tremendous kick. Unfortunately, Losetu was in the line of fire not another donkey.

Fortunately, help came quickly and Losetu was carried down the mountain on an improvised stretcher and a car was found to take him to Endulen hospital that is two hours away. He was kicked in the stomach and clearly was very seriously injured. We’re waiting to hear something from Endulen.

Cattle Carcasses Burned

In my thirty two years here at Ngorongoro we have had some pretty serious dry seasons but in all those years the situation never progressed to the point that th veterinary department had to collect the carcasses of the dead cattle and burn them, fearing the spread of diseases. Now it has happened.

Cattle carcasses burned by veterinarians at Endulen Ngorongoro.

During the last couple of weeks the rains have come and the situation is getting better, but the grass came to late for many of the older and weaker animals. There was just nothing for the cattle to graze on for weeks at a time. The rains are just in time for many of the cattle to survive.

Here in our immediate area of Olbalbal there are not so many cattle. Since we live on the edge of the desert, the herds here are mainly sheep and goats. These thrive in the desert areas but the drought this year has been so serious that even some of these hardy animals have succumbed.

Nearby Plane crash

Empakaai is a small crater in the Ngorongoro mountains just above us here at Olbalbal. A beautiful reflecting lake takes up most of its floor.

Flamingos often line the shores of Empakaai
Empakaai crater near Olbalbal

Yesterday eleven people died when a Cessna Caravan plane, carrying a single pilot and ten passengers crashed near the crater. Cessna Caravans carry tourists to many points here in Tanzania, Ngorongoro and the nearby Serengeti among them. One of our own diocesan Flying Medical Service air Cessna 206’s crashed at nearby Enkoporoni without loss of about a year ago. The FMS plane was carrying medical personal to to the twice monthly clinic there.

My 56-Year African Mission