July 23, 2013 Update #2
Dear Friends of ours at TATENDA International;
We are sorry it has taken us so long to compose this 2nd Update. It is amazing how full the days can be and how wearying the heat and humidity are. Despite the fatigue that goes along with such weather, we are enjoying immensely the gentleness and hospitality of these sisters. They are phenomenal. Gracious, generous, and so sweet.
On Sunday, Sr. Michelle took us to Apon, an Addiction Rehabilitation Residence for males, females and boys. It was founded in 1994 by the Holy Cross Brothers and 76 year old Brother Ronald Drahozal from Iowa is still working the project. Their motto is “An addict is sick, not bad, not mad.” Many of these men, boys, and now women, come from street situations where, drugs, alcohol, glue-sniffing, and addiction to amphetamines are common. It was an amazing thing to witness the work that is being done there, the rehabilitation of lives and behaviors, along with training in skills that will help provide a livelihood.
One memorable moment occurred when Br. Ronald asked a nine year old boy to sing a holy song he had learned while hanging around a mosque. He enthusiastically stood up and began to croon passionately with his eyes closed while other boys joined in. It was touching to see these “addicts” moving with the song in such a human and tender way. These are some of our photos of these young boys we were with. While we will have little opportunity to make other visits to sites where such work is being done, this visit was a powerful one.
Since then, we have begun our first retreat with 33 sisters of all different ages. The topic is “Finding Balance in Ministry and the Spiritual Life.” While the heat is a major factor in our energy-levels, we have gratefully been offered the use of the sisters’ new hall, complete with A/C, fans and a sound system. Thank you, God.
We have purchased some Bangladeshi clothing to help us “blend in” a little, but we are afraid two tall white women stick out no matter where we are. Even on our first CNG ride (a three-wheeler with a cage on it), we got attention. We are quite busy right now so that is all for now. We hope to get back to you with more stories in a few days.
Peace and gratitude to all of you,
Nicki Verploegen and Jackie Dombrowski