A Trip to Africa
Tom and Mary go to Africa
As we ventured into the bush country of far eastern Nigeria at the invitation of our good friend, Father Peter Abue, our mission was twofold: one was, of course, to evangelize and the second was to visit Father Peter's orphans and survey the location for the orphanage that hopefully you and Gospa Missions are building.
Our journey deep into Africa was a true adventure. The experiences were like watching someone in a movie going through what you and I would never go through, given a choice: the proliferation of mosquitoes, the proverbial giant, lightening-fast spider in our sleeping quarters, our sole source of water a contaminated creek in which all manner of objects washed and were washed - including animals and clothes! There was also constant humidity beyond imagination and being transported in a car held together with wire, over roads eaten away by constant wind, sand and water erosion and driven by a man who did not fear driving at speeds of 160 km per hour (close to 100 mph.) I always enjoyed living on the edge, but this was a bit over the edge.
In spite of all this our mission's objectives were accomplished. Father Peter had invited me to Nigeria to speak at a three day rally he had been planning for some months. The diocese of Ogoja sponsored Evangelization 2002, their first annual Catholic rally. More than 4000 people attended this remarkable event, held in an open field, with no facilities for eating, sleeping or restrooms. From 5 pm Friday straight through to 1 pm Sunday - there were 44 straight hours of faith filled words, witness, dance and music in praise of God. It was a sight to behold.
Both Joseph E. Ukpo, bishop of Ogoja, and Gabriel Ganaka, bishop of Jos, were important factors in the success of the rally. And God, Himself, orchestrated the entire weekend, for there was constant electricity the entire time to allow us operate the lights and the public address system. To illustrate how unusual 44 hours of uninterrupted electricity is in Ogoja, I heard Father Peter ask Bishop Ukpo when the last time was that this had occurred. The bishop's response was, "Never have we had more than 12 hours at one time!"
The rest of the week was spent traveling to various parishes within Father Peter's diocese to speak to those who were unable to attend the rally. At each church there were hundreds, even thousands, of Nigerians, Catholic and non-Catholic, anxious to hear "the man from America" speak.
Our visit to the day care site, where 100 orphans were cared for, was a real highlight. These are beautiful children who have nowhere permanent to live. They use to attend daycare in a two-room building of bare concrete, with no lights, windows, facilities or amenities of any kind. There was a blackboard, benches, and 50 children in a 10' x 10' room. Often the teachers would pay for the children's meals out of their own pockets.
It is for these children and others that Father Peter wanted us to build the orphanage. He had the land, thanks to a generous donation by his brother. There is almost enough money to construct the basic facility, thanks to the generous hearts of many Gospa Missions supporters and newsletter subscribers. What is desperately needed now is about another $25,000 and then a consistent income source for the orphanage to be able to actually operate it on a day-to-day basis. A guaranteed monthly contribution from you will solve this problem. Please consider sponsoring a child.
Please consider helping us care for these beautiful, abandoned children. We have made arrangements to be able to accept not only credit card payments as donation instruments, but to give anyone who would like the convenience, the ability to pledge a monthly amount via credit card, which would be charged to his/her account automatically. This would entail simply signing a monthly pledge statement which could be stopped or changed at any time, simply by writing or faxing us a request to do so. Or the pledge could be made for a specific time period to begin with. A monthly or yearly check is the best way to sponsor a child because we are not charged 3% of the donation as with credit cards.
Take a look at these faces in the photograph and try to find the grace within your heart to help them survive.
We invite you to be a contributor to Gospa Missions' Orphanage in Ogoja, Nigeria
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