Dear friends, Sunday Feb. 3rd, 2019
We are living in a time of extremes; may your extreme be peace.
We have had rainrainrain so that I can hardly remember when so much came down in so short a time. But our staple food of maize is as high as an elephant’s eye and making elephant size ears.
When I hear or see the news, the extremes stretch around the world from the hottest weather ever in Australia to the North Pole with its warming. The extreme’s stretch around the world causing suffering; fire, water, mud, heat, cold and more. Now you have extreme freeze and snow. It makes us be in touch with our faith, our values and goals in life.
It is just over 6 weeks until I, with two Zambians, will be boarding a plane toward Chicago. Our tickets have been sent from the family that is supporting Sue, who is our St. Francis Schools’ only international student at St. Mary of the Woods College, Terre Haute IN. We will witness Sue receiving the cherished College ring which is awarded only to students who have scored over 90 points. She is the only African in the College and has outshined most of her classmates. Her mother and her school Principal travel with me for the occasion. We will enjoy a couple weeks of travel afterwards visiting schools and friends. I will stay on for a couple months after they return to Zambia.
Education is one of the greatest gifts that a person can receive, principally the African youth. It is evangelization, building faith, and life and hope. I have found that promoting education is one of the most fruitful missionary ministries whether it be in a parish, village, home or school. We need only to look at our own lives to see what education has accomplished for us.
I can’t resist telling about education at our St. Francis Technical School which I started in 2000. Now we are just beginning the 2019 school year with about 600 students, most of whom are disadvantaged coming from the appalling compound where they have one meal a day and come to school hungry. Despite their environmental circumstances, we have just learned that our Grade 12 students, scoring 98%, are No. 1 in the District for the 4th year running.
Before mid-March when I fly out, we will have completed two technical departments of the school. A large poultry house we built couple years ago is now being set up for our students to learn the rearing of broiler chicks, layers in cages and hopefully quails. We are even preparing to teach our agriculture students how to make their own chicken sausage. Ask me about it when we meet.
Another project which enhances the name ‘Technical’ is the Tailoring & Design Workshop. The building was built couple years ago but has never been set up beyond a few Home Economics sewing classes. It will be set up and qualify us to register for TEVETA, a Govt. organization which will give year end exams. Students who pass will receive a certificate which will qualify them for employment. It gives them hope.
Much as I love the people here and the challenge of bringing education to their lives, I look forward to a time at home reeducating myself with family, friends, and my fellow Franciscans.
With the love of Christ,