One of the things that I love most about my work as Director of Bega Kwa Bega is the opportunity to see God's Spirit at work, stirring up the imaginations of individuals and communities alike to engage in God's Mission. This network of relationships that we share is so broad, and the work that we hold in common so vast, that there are myriad ways in which meaningful contributions can be made. I'm regularly amazed and inspired as people from all walks of life use their gifts, skills, and curiosities to make a difference in the world.
Take what I observed this past Sunday as an example:
I found myself with a carload of students from the University of Minnesota on our way to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Almelund
- about an hour north of the cities. The students had recently returned from a study tour to Iringa with the College of Science and Engineering and were invited to share the results of the class project in which they devised a solution to the water issues facing Immanuel's companions in the mountain village of Itonya. Although they had officially completed their course requirements with presentations earlier in March, they freely volunteered their time to carry forward what they had seen, heard, and learned.
In Almelund the students shared their presentation with the entire congregation. Making use of a nearby waterfall as a primary source, the student's proposal involves capturing and filtering clean water in a cistern before distributing it through a couple kilometers of piping to houses, schools, and a dispensary in the village. The students had done their homework - calculating pressure and flow and trying to find a way to maximize impact while minimizing cost. The congregation listened intently and asked many questions afterward.
The hope of Immanuel's leaders is to make this project a reality. The exciting news is that they are positioned to do it! Working in cooperation with Saint Paul Partners
, one of our BKB Affiliates
, and with a matching grant from an outside organization, the people of Immanuel in Almelund are well on the way to raise the necessary funds. Adding to the sense of holy serendipity around the endeavor, a member of the congregation who is a pipefitter by trade is now exploring ways that he may contribute his skills to the project as well - Mungu akipenda (if God pleases), of course.
As I travel across Iringa and Saint Paul, more often than not, this is how I observe change occurring throughout the wide life that we share. One person and one action leads to another, which leads to another, and yet another in a string of events. In this instance a class project leads to a public presentation, which leads to a fundraising appeal and the very real possibility of water arriving in Itonya in the not too distant future. All of this is exciting to see and cause to celebrate.
All thanks be to God,
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega and Assistant to the Bishop