October 12th, 2008

rose window

Better than ugali, anyway

I had to go down to Nashville Friday and Saturday for a UMMen meeting. On Friday afternoon, I met my friends Umba and Ngoy from Morogoro, Tanzania. He is the District Superintendent there. We ate at the Pancake Pantry with Judy and Charlie. Judy is the Missions Chair of First UMC, Hendersonville (TN).

We had a delightful lunch. I introduced Umba and Ngoy to grits, which they really liked. In Congo and Tanzania, the "daily bread" is ugali, also called "stiff porridge." It's a white corn dough steamed until almost firm. They roll it in balls and dip it in meat sauce. I don't care for ugali, myself -- it's awfully bland -- but then, grits are pretty bland, too (though butter goes really well on them). Anyway, grits are as close as we can get to this staple African food in America.

After lunch, Judy and Charlie had to leave, and I was in charge of showing Umba and Ngoy around for a bit before their hostess came to pick them up. I took them to the Upper Room chapel and museum. I showed them the Scaritt-Bennett Center (though I didn't take them through the places where they might be introduced to the participants of the Reconciling Ministries Network retreat, figuring it would shock them and/or break their hearts).

Finally, we went to the Kern Building, which houses the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. This is the home of the Africa University Development Office. Umba and Ngoy have two daughters studying at AU. The elder is a senior on a scholarship. The younger is a freshman who has not yet been approved for a scholarship. We sort of barged in, amidst a bevy of bishops attending their annual meeting for AU; however, we were welcomed, and the Kalangwas got to meet with Jim Salley, our AU Development VP. He made sure he got the name of their younger daughter, and I'm sure her scholarship is now secure. So that was time very well spent.

Umba is the most effective church leader I know. I am proud to assist him in the great work he is doing in southern Tanzania, and it does my heart good to call him my friend.

Umba, Ngoy, Judy, Charlie, Art Umba, Ngoy, Judy, Charlie, Art
Pancake Pantry, Nashville