As I write this E-pistle I am in Zimbabwe, on the continent of Africa. Our team of 21 persons from the Indiana Conference had a great experience at Africa University, seeing that amazing place, visiting with students and presenting our check from the Indiana Conference for $1 million to endow their first chair (professor) in their "faculty" (department) of Agriculture and Natural Resources. This check represents the cash and pledges from our individuals and churches in the Indiana Conference in response to the "Indiana Campaign for Africa University," which was approved at the 2013 Session of our Conference. The total goal is $1.6 million, with the other $600,000 designated for student scholarships. We have not completed all of that part of the campaign, so we welcome additional gifts and pledges to finish that effort.
What have we been doing since we left Africa University? We have been traveling all over Zimbabwe in a bus, pulling a trailer with our luggage. We have learned that Zimbabwe is a big country (we have put many miles and many bumpy roads on our bodies to learn that), and of course Zimbabwe is just one country on this huge continent. Sometimes it seems that Americans and Europeans don't realize how big and diverse Africa really is. Think of it this way: If you take the lower 48 states of the USA, you can fit three of those into Africa and have plenty of room left over!
We are also learning about the diversity of Africa in terms of culture, languages, geography and natural resources. Today we got up at 5 a.m. and went on an animal safari, where we saw elephants, giraffes, impala, zebras, wart hogs and a couple of rhino who came within a few feet of our vehicle – not to mention an incredible number of beautiful birds and other creatures. This afternoon we toured the amazing Victoria Falls – which is more than twice the size of Niagara Falls in the US. Finally this evening we had a dinner cruise of the Zambezi River where we saw hippos and other creatures. Quite a day!
My point in sharing all of this is to celebrate the beauty of God's creation, the diversity of Africa and the enormous challenges which face this continent. People often look for easy answers, when in fact there are none. So what do we do? We do what we can. We focus upon touching individual lives, offering help where we can, developing leaders through education and partnering with anyone who is willing to work for peace.
I guess a similar thing can be said at home in Indiana and throughout the USA. We can't fix everything, but rather than falling into despair, we do what we can.
John Wesley said it better than I can: "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." That is our Methodist way of trying to make a difference ... in Indiana and around the world.