A couple of years ago, we went to Tanzania to begin our partnership and collaboration with the community of Chanika and the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament who are serving there. It was a blessed trip, and our vision for bringing Christ’s Eucharistic presence and sustainable change to the communities we visited has quietly grown since that trip.
Last year, we were able to purchase brick building machines for the community and fund the completion of two chapels in small missionary outposts where the need was greatest. There are still many communities waiting for chapels and we hope to continue funding them with the help of you all, our primary partners in bringing Eucharistic-centered community transformation to these periphery communities.
In addition to the chapels, your donations have allowed us to regularly send food supplements to at-risk families and send funds to plant mango groves in multiple communities.
We have always known the greatest need and the key to real, sustainable change in these communities was water. It is nearly impossible for any other aspect of life to work well for you if you do not have access to clean water. All the other idea for agricultural and educational initiatives in these communities is dependent upon access to water. So drilling wells was a priority.
Over and over again, the Scriptures use thirst as analogy for our need for God and God’s great desire for our souls. It is because thirst is so easily understood, a feeling we all relate to. We all know the discomfort of being thirsty. And we all know the sweet relief of a cool drink when we are feeling dry and parched. For most of us, spiritual thirst is the only dire thirst we will ever know. We may experience physical thirst temporarily, we might even run the risk of dehydration during a particular moment of our lives, but the constant lack of access to clean water that will bring us life and relief and physical hope and possibility? We will likely never know that kind of thirst.
But our brothers and sisters around the world, especially in many parts in Africa, and more specifically in these small communities outside of Chanika, Tanzania, this is a thirst they have become accustomed to. I think of my friend Esther, tucked away in her little mud hut with her mama and her kids trying to grow enough food to survive, working her dry fields, brave, beautiful but thirsty. I remember looking around at the buckets she saves to collect water when it rains. Empty. being used as chairs when I visited her.
Thirst like that is hard to comprehend. But I can imagine it if I try. And I can imagine with great joy it the relief it must be when machinery drives in and you start to see water springing up from the muddy earth of your community for the first time.
But joy of joys, I do not even have to imagine it. Because thanks to our generous donors, I get to see it really happening. And so do you! In July, the day before I left the States, I got to head to the bank and send the funds to drill wells in two of the communities we are serving with our collaborative partners, the priest of the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament.
This week, we received the first photos of the work beginning!
What an incredible blessing to bear witness to this process, to know that this life-giving water, much like the water Jesus offered the woman at the well, spring forth from his presence in his communities and that because of your generosity and the faithfulness of our partners on the ground in Tanzania, these communities will not have access to what they need to slake both their spiritual and physical thirst.
We are overwhelmed at how faithful God is to our small efforts to live mercy and put faith, hope and love in action through St. Bryce Missions. And we are consistently blown away but the grand and glorious impact of your small yeses to be generous.
While we celebrate the great gift you have given these two communities, we want to remember there are many others in our outreach waiting for their spiritual and physical wells, waiting for chapels and wells for their communities.
Think today about the gift it is not to ever know the kind of uncertainty of being physically or spiritually thirsty and not knowing when that need might be met, if ever. Let’s be a church that sees our brothers’ and sisters’ doubt and reaches out with hope, that assures them that they will not go thirsty, not on our watch, not when they are members of our very own bodies, which are full to the brim with all we need.
Ask God is there is some small fast you might offer that would allow you to give just $10 toward a water well for another community. Just a few hundred us doing so could bring life-giving water to another community.
Proverbs tell us, “Like water to a thirsty soul is good news from a far off land.” Today, we have the great joy of drinking in this good news from our friends in Tanzania. Let it animate our hearts and grow in us the conviction to live and give generously so that we remain always in the cycle of sending and receiving the Good News with great joy.
Copyright 2016 Colleen C. Mitchell