Dear Friends in Christ,
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty (John 4:13)
It was a blessing to have the opportunity to travel to Tanzania, July 29-August 11. The purpose of the trip was 2-fold:
- To reaffirm the Companion Church relationship between the Northwestern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Dodoma Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT).
- To participate in the 2018 ELCA – ELCT Companion Synod / Diocese Bishops’ Summit, which was held from August 6-10 in Moshi, Tanzania. There are 26 ELCT dioceses that were represented by 26 ELCT bishops. 20 ELCA synods have partner relationships with 20 ELCT dioceses. The ELCA delegation included 9 ELCA bishops, 7 Bishop’s assistants, and a number of Global Mission Churchwide staff members.
I was joined on the trip to Tanzania by NWOS Global Mission Board members, Ron Hiatt and Becky Seibert. Pastor Robert Johnson from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Toledo, and Pastor Bob Noble from Calvary Lutheran Church in Northwood also joined our delegation. Pastors Johnson and Noble were able to reaffirm longstanding “companion parish” relationships. Holy Trinity in Toledo is in relationship with the Cathedral Parish of the Dodoma Diocese. Calvary Lutheran Church in Northwood is in relationship with the Mnadani Parish in Dodoma.
The first leg of our journey involved a tour of many parishes and sub-parishes throughout the Dodoma Diocese.
One particular parish visit stood out for me. On the morning of August 1, we visited the Mlenga sub-parish. This sub-parish is partnered with St. Peter Lutheran Church in Martin, Ohio (Blackberry Corners). One of the gifts that St. Peter Lutheran Church has shared with the Mlenga sub parish is the gift of clean water. God’s people at St. Peter provided the funding for a solar powered well. This well provides clean drinking water for both people and livestock, and the benefits to the community are simply exponential. The children of the village are healthier. Herds of sheep, goats, and cattle have grown in size. The church is planning to expand its worship space. Enrollment in the village school has increased, and includes many young girls, who previously were tasked with carrying water from the river to the village, a 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) journey. When I observed the power of clean water, I thought of the words of Jesus as he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).