This was my 6th trip to Tanzania and probably one of the best. My grandson, Luke and I were blessed to be invited to the installation of my dear friend, Pastor Elias Kitoi Nassari. He became the second Bishop of the Diocese of Meru. When this partnership was first started in 1999 between Adoration and Mulala, Pastor Elias was the Assistant to the Bishop. Paulo Akyoo, who had been the first Bishop and had this position for 22 years. This was a popular election and Pastor Elias won by a large number of votes. Mulala is his home parish and it is only a short walk from his house.
The ceremony of his installation was attended by at least 12 or more other Bishops, including our new Bishop Paul Erickson and the government even sent representatives. Several choirs were there, including a Masai choir from Mulala Parish. About 5000 people came to see their new Bishop receive his cloak, his miter and his staff. It was a real honor to be there for this wonderful ceremony and a forever memory. The outdoor service was 6 hours in 90 degree weather.
Following the ceremony, there was lunch for guests in the church’s garden and later supper at Bishop Elias’s home where there were 7 chefs who roasted 7 goats for the occasion. There were people there from St. Matthew’s in Wauwatosa, from Jackson Park Lutheran Church, and Redeemer Lutheran Church in Racine where Bishop Elias had just been pastor. People who had done projects in the Diocese from Germany and Belgium attended.
Then, the following Sunday, we worshipped at Mulala Parish and Bishop Elias was there to preach and serve Holy Communion to us along with Pastor Sarikiaeli Nnko, the pastor of Mulala. This was only a 4 hour service and there had been a 4 hour service the day before the installation also. It is amazing as there are about 75 children in the Sunday School and they sit quietly for the whole service.
Luke was in awe of the hospitality, generosity and faith of these wonderful people. He has heard me talk about this partnership for many years but now realizes how appreciated and vital it is to the people of Meru and Mulala. Please pray for the strength and growth of this partnership, the faithful people of the Diocese and for Bishop Elias and his wife Elly, as they return to their homeland to lead his people as the new Bishop. Our prayers for one another span oceans and more than 8000 miles and I believe that this is what God intended us to do.
~ Sandy Ringwall