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Chosen Family

June 17, 2013

By act

My time in Tanzania so far has been spent in Dar es Salaam. I’ve been hosted by Canon James Armas, the Executive Secretary of the Diocese of Masasi.

We spent a full day talking about the possibility of sending Canadian Interns to the Diocese. Two areas of need he identified were health and education. The Diocese runs three dispensaries (health clinics) and presently they do not have a doctor.  They are looking at trying to train someone from the Diocese to be a doctor, but that takes time and money. So in the meanwhile, an intern with experience in the health field would be appreciated.

The Diocese also supports the running of a secondary school. The second need that was identified was a teacher in the areas of physics, chemistry and biology. We did a lot of work around determining when would be best for interns to come, how long they would stay, and identifying work for the interns that would be put into job descriptions.

After a long day of work, we shared a meal together. He told me about his work in the Diocese, when he was ordained, about his family and the names of his children. After we finished our meal he picked up his cell phone and made a call. He said, “There is someone I want you to meet”. After a conversation in Swahili that I clearly didn’t understand, we were off in a taxi.

He told me about Margaret. She is 80 years old and originally from the Diocese of Masasi. She moved to Dar es Salaam about 60 years ago. When he was studying in seminary in Dar, he met her. She had a daughter, but quickly decided to “adopt” him as her son. And he has been considered family ever since.

We pulled into Margaret’s house. I am introduced to her and her daughter Mabel. They tell me of Mabel’s daughter’s upcoming wedding in July. I am shown photos of the engaged couple.

They ask if James will be at the wedding. He hesitates and says that he’ll see. I’m not sure if I can do justice in words as to what happens next. There is a cacophony of words shared (mostly in Swahili, I think, could have been English”¦ it was all a jumble!). Margaret is upset, Mabel is echoing her displeasure. This goes on and on for minutes until James says, with as much might as he can, “I will try”.

I start to laugh. They all look at me. I say, “You really are like family! Only families can fight like that and still love each other. “They laugh as well.

Before I leave Margaret brings me out a Mother’s Union bandana. She says, “You are family too, come back anytime and visit me.”

It is very special to have chosen family all over the world. And for this I feel incredibly blessed.

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