Yesterday was a special day for our group. After visiting with Bishop Alex and his staff at the Central Diocese office in Singida, we drove to Puma Lutheran Church with Pastor Manase Msengi and his family. Bob and Sue sponsored training for an evangelist (lay minister) from Puma and he wanted a chance to say thank you. We also delivered some guitars to Puma Lutheran from Pastor Nick Fisher-Broin in Cannon Falls, and the musicians and choir wanted to say thank you, too.
Pastor Manase had another purpose for our visit. He wanted to ask us to sponsor a parish worker from his congregation. This woman wants to go to school so that she can teach children in the parish, perform administrative tasks, and prepare the sanctuary for worship. Knowing that we were going to be asked this question, we wrestled with our response before going to Puma. Our covenant is with Iambi Lutheran Hospital to provide medical supplies and expertise. There is no shortage of need for support in this country, and so we constantly have to ask ourselves if what we are being asked to do is in line with our covenant. We were prepared to say no to the request to support another worker.
As the choir sang, the musicians played, and the congregation welcomed us into their church family, our hearts were moved. Providing education for this woman could make a huge impact on her life and in the lives of those at Puma Lutheran Church. Beyond that, Barb Peterson was on our minds and it became clear to all of us that sending forth this woman into ministry in the church would be a beautiful way for us to honor Barb’s life and ministry.
As our reception ended we were each invited to plant a tree outside of the church. It was a powerful moment for each of us. I planted my tree in honor of Barb. Later we learned that the leaves from the trees we planted would be used to treat people with malaria. How fitting that the tree planted in Barb’s honor would grow to provide healing to the people of the village.
Before leaving we asked to have a photo taken with Mrs. Christowaja Clement Itonye, the woman who will be attending training to become a parish worker. It was a powerful moment for me as I thought of Barb’s work, offered a blessing for Christowaja, and prayed that God go with her.
Immediately upon leaving Puma Lutheran Church we learned that Barb had died. I miss my dear friend and partner in ministry immensely, but my heart is full to know that a young woman was being sent forth into ministry in Barb’s honor. The Holy Spirit moved in our hearts. Thank you, dear Barb. May the witness of your life continue to inspire us all. ~Pastor Lisa