Sunday, July 29, 2007

More On Africa - Havilah Video w/Voice

Back from The Motherland

(Havilah Village's first residents move in)
Finally back from our trip to Tanzania. Havilah is open! The dedication went off swimmingly. After much praying, prepping, painting, shopping, tweaking, sewing, sweeping, planting, planning - the house was finally ready. There's a lot I want to talk about in regards to this trip, but also a lot I'm not sure I should put in this blog. I'm still debating which parts to out and which parts to keep.

But on the which part to "out" - It was a big day for all those who have worked so hard to see this project from dirt to destiny. Having been a part of the thing since the dirt days 3 years ago, to see the house setup so beautifully was very moving. These kids will live in a standard far from what they've ever known. I'm just praying that we don't end up raising a bunch of selfish brats - as is known to be human nature.

As I watch this project, I see a kind of grand experiment. Nothing like this has ever been done before. What happens when you give children who have so little, so much? How do you guide them into the realization of their blessings and the obligation that because they have these blessings they MUST grow to serve their community with honor and dignity. They must give back. It's not optional. How do you teach that? I watch parents in America struggle with the communication of those values every day. So, I wonder what the plan will be to communicate that big picture message to these kids as they grow. It's a deep thought - and I welcome comments on it. How do you make sure that you raise great Tanzanians - and not American wannabes?

Now on to dedication......

Dedication day began cloudy and cool, but because of much prayer ended up sunny and even hot! There was a stellar lineup of speakers..... African church leaders, the village chief (we love Loti!), the leadership of Global Vessels, and of course, the local African dignitaries.

First and foremost, we began by asking God's blessings on the homes and all who work and dwell there.

Then came the lineup of speeches.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of talking. There were the dedication speeches, (here's Bob Wallace with the dedication to his mother).

And the dedication of the second house by Pastor Gene Donaldson of the Capitol Hill SDA Church in Washington, DC to Gilda Allen's mother.

Our Pastor, Marcellus Robinson gave congratulatory remarks on behalf of the Emmanuel SDA Church in Ashton, Maryland.

The Chief of the village of Ngongongare- Loti Nnko - made his remarks as well.

My personal favorite bunch of fellow musicians helped us praise the Lord with music.

"Unity Singers" from the University of Arusha

And Rebecca Trotter, the new housemom (Mama T, as she will be known) was introduced to the village.

After all the praying, speechmaking and praising....the ribbon was cut. Havilah Orphange Village is declared open by Virginia and Frazier Mathis.

Then came the food and the tour. EVERYONE in attendance (more than 300 people), sampled what had been provided, and then toured the facility. It was truly a day of celebration for all!

Here are a few pictures of the
house interior spaces...furnished and ready to go.

This beautiful artwork is set in the tile at the entrance to the house

Here's our new dining room. This one's fit for a king.

Bunk beds anyone? The girls get Dora the Explorer.

This ones for the boys..

There's a room for Mama T (Rebecca Trotter, our housemother)

And here is a "themed activity room"- all about reading

Thursday, July 05, 2007

For the Fourth of July

Frederick Douglass gives one of his greatest speeches. . .
July 5

Frederick Douglass

*On this date in 1852, Frederick Douglass gave the speech "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro".

The abolitionist was invited to address an audience in Rochester, New York at Corinthian Hall. That day Douglass delivered the following indictment of a nation celebrating freedom and independence, while keeping slaves.

“Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too; great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory....

Fellow citizens pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us? Would to God, both for your sakes and ours that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man.

In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as a hart." But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me.

This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.

My subject, then, fellow citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America. is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.

Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, "It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, an denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed." But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshiping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look today, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom, speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively? To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, today, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. "The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. 'Ethiopia, shall, stretch out her hand unto God."

Reference: The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass,
Volume II, Pre-Civil War Decade 1850-1860
Philip S. Foner, International Publishers Co., Inc.,
New York, 1950

Africa - AGAIN

Yes, yes, I am preparing to go to Tanzania for the third year in a row. Believe me, I'm not sure how this happened. All I can say is that it must be God's will. On the steps of a clinic in usa (pronounced oooosah) river last year - I asked the team Dr. if she'd miss me. She pretended to be "appalled" and began to inform me that since I've been infected by the service bug - I would never be the same, nor be able to quit doing it. Apparently, she's right. This year, I had no money and decided that I would hand my entire participation in this project to God. I asked him to provide the funds if he wanted me to go. I indicated that it was all on him this time. He provided more than I could have hoped for - and not a cent came out of my pocket (not that I had it anyway). I have experienced generosity and my faith in the individual (mind you, not in society) has been restored. Good people want to do good things. I'm proud that I have good people around me.

We leave on July 10th. If I can, I'll update this blog from there. If not, pray for us. It's the grand opening of Havilah and we have a lot planned. There will be approximately 60 people on this trip to Tanzania - all going to lend a hand in the continuing building project of this great orphanage project. This time, there are 3 houses completed. We'll be working on the administration building and meeting the new kids that will be moving (or have already moved) into the house. If you've been a part of this project - stay tuned, great things to come.

For Global Vessels and Me - I say, Assante Sana to you all.

It's all about Jesus

It’s All About Jesus
by John Fischer

“When I came to you … I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 NIV)

The Gospel message has gotten a little foggy these days with all the attention being paid to politics, family values, and culture wars, and a lot of folks have lost track of the fact that it’s all about Jesus. Ask the man on the street what a Christian is today and you’re likely to ask a long time until you hear anything about Jesus or the cross. Our message, from beginning to end, is Jesus – who he was, what he said, and what he did.

The last recognized revival in this country was a movement primarily among baby boom youth in the early 1970s that was quickly dubbed the Jesus movement. It got that name because everything was focused around Jesus. When you think about it, Jesus was the ultimate hippie – he wore long hair, sandals, and he was against the establishment – and a generation of ideological kids embraced Christ, even while they rejected religion and the institutional church. Jesus was the central figure in all of this. What is now called Christian music was originally called Jesus music. Christians were called Jesus freaks. Now I’m not suggesting we all go back to tie-dyed T-shirts, bell-bottom pants, and Jesus rock, but I am suggesting we could learn something from this emphasis that transcended politics and religion.

Our message is all about a person, and our mission is to share that person with the world. God made us to belong to him; we wandered away; Jesus is the way back. A whole generation of young people found that out 30 years ago and nothing’s really changed about the heart of the message. It’s a personal message. It’s non-threatening. It’s all about a meaningful relationship with God that comes to someone by way of a meaningful relationship with them. There’s not a lot of baggage here. Our main concern is to introduce ourselves to people and in doing so, to introduce them to Jesus, because, as far as we’re concerned, that’s who it’s all about.

Jesus came to save us, unite us, and teach us to love one another. We’ve added a lot of other stuff to this and I’m not so sure it’s helping us do what we’re supposed to be doing. If it makes you more loving to your neighbor, then it’s probably a good thing. If it makes you your neighbor’s enemy, then it’s probably not. If it’s all about Jesus, then it’s definitely “right on!”