Today, Monday we visited education centers and Nazareth parish. The secondary school is the only one in the area. And covers years Senior 1 through Senior 4. This is the equivalent of ninth through twelfth grades. The school was built in 2018 and this year 5 students challenged the national exam. This is a huge feat!  The results aren't yet back, but even the fact they have written is a success. Nearby is the diocesan college and a diocesan vocational school. We watched some students practicing brick laying. We saw the facilities for this, carpentry, tailoring, computers, and general classroom space. The goal is to give young people marketable skills to provide for themselves and to give hope that will help keep them from trouble. The school has but six computers, insufficient for the number of pupils. They would love at least that many more (laptops running at least Windows 10 and able to support Office). This, too, is part of raising the educational level of the people and raising up the whole community. The diocese has taken the initiative in many programs, starting at the very basic level and then increasing as they are able. Part of the plan is to add a department of agriculture to the college, and they already have orange trees to help with the sustainability of the programs. They want to be able to give graduating students the tools they'll need to exercise their trade so that they can put these skills to use. There is much to share about these things. They are truly inspiring. There are certainly partnership opportunities, and much we can learn, too. The parish we visited today is made up of self-described "peasants." Last year they laid the foundation for a new, permanent church building. The four parishes of the deanery are working together to plan for the future and to do the practical work of fundraising and labor to see these through. Tomorrow we are to participate in a community wide day of fasting and prayer. I expect that will bring many of its own stories. Until next time...

Fasting Prayer

It is just coming up 5:30 in the evening on Tuesday here (10:30 am in Dallas). It is raining at the moment, cooling the air but complicating the trek to the "facilities". Supper was a bit earlier this evening after the diocesan day of fasting and prayer. We are called upon for a complete fast (not even water) between 6 am and 4 pm. We were to gather at Freedom Square, but shifted to the market for the sake of shade. There were a hundred or so present there. Others were within earshot of the sound system, and parishioners across the diocese gathered at their parish churches at the same time. The call came in response to the continuing "insecurity" in the nation and the difficult reality of reduced harvests of late. A number of crops, including the daily standard cassava plants, have been decimated by pests, weather, or unknown causes. The program had 14 different items, centering around four teaching/sermon sessions. Each followed by an associated time of prayer led by different people. Mine was the 4th of these and was "The Power of Prayer". Veronica was the appointed "pray-er" for the session, with the focus of the nation and it's leaders. Bishop Kamani rounded off the day with some summarizing comments and led us in prayer. We finished almost an hour ahead of schedule, but at perfect timing, as a strong wind arose just as he concluded, driving everyone to head for home ahead of it and the accompanying storm. The shelter for the day was courtesy of a couple of big mango trees. As we left, the wind knocked several down, and I now have the experience of being struck by falling mangos.  Tomorrow we are going separate ways, as Veronica is going to spend time sharing with the clergy spouses and I will be visiting Madebe. It is also scheduled to be our last full day in Ibba.