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March 23, 1966

Dear Mom,

…….This morning, celebrated Mass at one of the outstations, the one that I’ve gotten stuck trying to get to the last two times.  A WaChaga African priest stayed with us last night.  He is from Moshi and had a landrover, which he let me use.  With the four-wheel drive and the weight I was able to get through.  We have Mass in a classroom of a small cement block school built in the shape of a WaArusha hut.  Except for the size and building material, it’s no different from the huts surrounding it.  The huts are circular, built of mud, cow dung and grass with a sloping roof, having a smoke and air vent at the top.  The roof of the school is corrugated tin and the inside space is partitioned off into four classrooms.  The classroom was crowded with children and about fifteen adults.  The entire Mass, except for the Canon, is in Swahili and they sing hymns in their own language to their own melodies.  I talked with a number of the children before and after Mass and am finding that they are more and more comfortable with me.  Language is much less a barrier with kids than it is with the adults.

Most of the rest of the today, I spent in another area east of here just walking and talking.  There is much fear to be broken down, because many of the people in these back areas have never spoken to a white person and seeing one walking across open country right up to their huts must be very disconcerting.   The children run inside for the most part and the women are very wary at first.  The men usually have had some contact with strangers, so it’s easier with them.  It’s clear that the way to these people’s hearts is through their children.

They have such a tremendous love for them that if you show interest in and a liking for the kids, the adults are quickly won over.  Along the way I met a small boy.  We talked for a while about his family, where he lived, how many cows belong to his family, etc.  Then he decided that he would act as my guide for the rest of the day.  We walked along footpaths from one small group of huts to another, while I was trying to talk to anyone who was around.  He would tell me the right word when I got stuck.  At the end of the afternoon, he was as fresh as when we started and I was very tired.  I’m getting more used to the walking, but am still pretty soft. ………..



My 56-Year African Mission