Thursday, June 23, 2011

Question: How Can We Help?


As I’m sure everyone reading this knows, Katie and I have been diligently working to get over to Africa for the last decade. Our Tanzania placement with Maryknoll Lay Missioners is a dream come true and the answer to many prayers. We appreciate all the support that folks have given us over the years.

Since we’ve found out about our placement in Tanzania, we’ve been asked this question a lot: “How can we help you?” So I offer both an answer to that question as well as an appeal for support and assistance. Up until this point we really haven't had an answer to how people could help us. So much was unknown that we couldn't give any specifics. Now that we're much further into the process, we have come up with a list of three ways that you can help:

1) Monetary Donations.
Unlike many other mission-based work, our service with Maryknoll Lay Missioners does not require extensive fund-raising, nor is our acceptance contingent on raising a specified amount. MKLM has their own fund-raising staff who, with the occasional support of the Missioners, raise enough money so that the mission staff can concentrate on what they were hired to do--service to the poor and the marginalized. That being said, the organization does rely heavily on donations for its operations. We have been asked to raise $1000 prior to our departure in January 2012. If anyone would like to contribute to our goal, we would be most grateful. Donating financial support to MKLM is a very important way for people to get involved in our mission. It is a great way to support not just us but an organization that has been working for decades with some of the world's most needy people. I know the economy is rough right now and many folks are in less than ideal circumstances, but even the smallest donations add up, so please give whatever you can. No amount is too small.

If you would like to make a donation, you can send a check directly to:

Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Advancement
PO Box 307
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0307

Please put “Chris and Katie Reid” in the memo line of the check in order to ensure that we can be "credited" for bringing in the donation. We can also take cash and mail a check to them ourselves with your name on it, if you would prefer.

2) Storage Space.
Although we are selling/donating most of our possessions, there are a few things (photographs, family heirlooms, etc.) that we will put into storage while we are away. Some of these things need to be stored with care because prolonged heat/cold might hurt these items. Obviously, obtaining a climate controlled storage unit for 4 years can get a bit pricey (though we will do it if we have to), so if anyone has any storage space that they are willing/able to let us use for at least 4 years, please let us know. We'll weigh our options and then figure out the best solution from there. We don't want to have boxes spread out at two dozen homes around the country!

3) Prayer.
This is the most important need, of course. The changes that we are making in our lives (and in the lives of family, friends, colleagues, etc.) would be insurmountable if it weren't for the Grace of God and the Peace of the Holy Spirit. We ask for continued prayers for us, our families, and our friends, as well as for all Missioners around the world working toward peace and justice. We would love it if people would add our intentions to any prayer groups or Church services that you know of. And if you are not religious, then happy thoughts are equally appreciated.

For those of you who are not familiar with Maryknoll Lay Missioners, here’s bit from the MKLM website:

“… [MKLM] are a lay Catholic community called through baptism to witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, crossing boundaries of culture, nationality and faith to join our lives with impoverished and oppressed peoples of the earth. With them, we discern the presence of God’s Spirit in all creation and in the world’s many cultures and religions, and work toward human liberation and inter-religious dialogue in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

…We strive together for justice, peace and fullness of life, and so our ministries are offered in response to the needs of the people with whom we live and work, and with respect for the integrity of all creation.

…We challenge unjust structures and systems, seeking transformation of the very powers that create and benefit from the marginalization of communities, and we commit to becoming a dynamic anti-racist organization that reflects the ethnic and cultural richness of the US Catholic Church and the world in this millennium.”

Learn more about MKLM at their website.

Any support you can offer is greatly appreciated. We could not embark on this endeavor without the support that others give us. Thanks to everyone for being an important part of our mission- a mission that has just begun!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Official Placement: Tanzania!!

I made a quick Facebook announcement about this the other day, and the word is spreading amongst friends and family, but I wanted to take a moment and give more detail for those interested.

In case there are some who do not yet know, Katie and I have been selected to be Maryknoll Lay Missioners, and we have accepted a 3.5 year placement in Tanzania. The exact location and work we will be doing is yet to be determined, but knowing the country is a big step. And it’s info we are thrilled about, as Tanzania was our top choice. Over the next few months we’ll determine what we will be doing, but it will certainly involve our social work training.

Tanzania is a peaceful country. It is in close proximity to some famously unstable places, but its almost 60 year history is one of peace and stability. But also poverty, and lots of it. It’s one of the UN’s Least Developed Countries and is considered one of the economically poorest countries in the world. If you would like to read more about the country, visit the CIA World Factbook for a basic overview.

MKLM in Tanzania is based in the Lake Victoria region in two cities: Mwanza and Musoma. If you look at the map above, you will see both cities on the map, on the southern and eastern shores of the lake. It will be in one of these two cities that we will work. I believe we’ll have our language training in Musoma, and depending on the work we do, we’ll either stay in that city or relocate to Mwanza (which is the larger of the two cities).

The realization that we’ll actually be living in Tanzania in January 2012 is a bit mind-boggling. As many who are reading this blog likely will know, we’ve long dreamed of living in Africa. We applied to several programs in 2005 with the hope of heading over for a few years starting in 2006, but these plans were derailed by my father’s cancer. We went back to the drawing board to sort out what to do next. Skip ahead several years to 2008, and we began a dialogue with folks at MKLM to lay the groundwork for possibly applying to the program. We did officially apply in fall 2010, and here we are now with a confirmed placement in Tanzania. Rest assured, the process I just described entailed considerably more effort and work than my brief write-up describes.

We’re excited about this for obvious reasons. It’s a dream come true and a prayer answered. We’re excited to be able to answer the call to really delve into some tough stuff and see what we can do to help. We’re ready to test our mettle. We’re also excited because we’ve been to Mwanza on our trip back in 2006. We spent a week in the area we’ll be living (in a small village called Nassa in between Mwanza and Musoma). We still have friends in the area and remember the beauty of both the people and the place. It’s gonna be a hard adjustment- no matter how many amenities we get, it’s gonna be a harder life there. But we’re looking forward to it, and it’s a challenge we are ready to take up.

I’ll be posting further information in the next few days.

Mwanza, TZ
Mwanza, TZ, June 2006

Mwanza, TZ
Another shot of Mwanza, TZ, June 2006