Mission Giving – Tanzania’s New Hope

Project Tanehope :

Abundance for Every Good Work

It’s fall in the church, so that means it is the season of stewardship and the annual appeal. This year’s theme of From Scarcity to Abundance comes from this verse from 2 Corinthians 9:8:

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything, and provide in abundance for every good work.

In the last several months, our congregation has been experiencing a living example of this verse. However, only a few of us know about it (Session, Finance Committee, me) and it is far too good to keep to ourselves!

Our story begins back in 2008 when Daniel Laiser, a young man from Tanzania, spent the school year at Mount Vernon High School. He occasionally sang in our choir and became friends with James Taylor and his family. That connection continued after Danny’s return home and as Danny started medical school. When Danny needed several hundred dollars for the national medical exam fee, our congregation provided that money from our mission funds. He passed the exam and now serves as a doctor in a large hospital. But the connection wasn’t over.

God has given Danny a deep desire to serve others, and he began dreaming about helping people in parts of Tanzania that are underserved. Thus, Project Tanehope was born. Danny knew how to start a medical dispensary for basic prescriptions and perform basic lab tests; all he needed was the financial support. He discussed this dream with James Taylor last winter when James visited Danny before he returned to the US. Based on James’s experience with the Peace Corps in Rwanda, he reported to the Session his confidence that Danny could both start and sustain this project.

So, this summer Session authorized $2000 from mission funds for phase one of Project Tanehope. With the first gift, Danny and his team were able to secure an office to use as the clinic, renovate it and buy the necessary shelving and security to meet the criteria set by Tanzania’s national food and drug agency. After registering the center, they purchased the first phase of drugs.

The dispensary opened its doors on September 5, 2018 and immediately people started coming and asking for service. It was so successful, they were running low on medicine within a few weeks! So, at our October meeting the Session approved another gift of $1000 to purchase additional drugs and one more shelf.

The next phase for Project Tanehope is to establish a laboratory by adding a room, purchasing basic lab equipment, and training a lab technician at a cost of $2200. As Danny says, they need to be able to diagnose illnesses to best help people. Finally, they have requested $2800 as a final gift to purchase the last needed items (furniture, additional lab equipment and other medical supplies). Their goal is to eventually be self-sustaining.

Danny emailed us after receiving the second gift:

I don’t know how to thank you and the whole session but, please pass my sincere thanks from my heart, and I pray that you continue supporting this project until it is something standing on its own feet, and that you will be so proud of the work of your hands as the future of my community is brightened through your kindness…I am very grateful for what you are doing for me…may God continue keeping and blessing you abundantly as we work together unendingly.

Because of the faithfulness and generosity of Doris Whiting and Mary Byerly, we were able to use the designated mission funds from their estate gifts to support Project Tanehope. God provided us with blessings in abundance so that we can pass that blessing along!

For the last two phases of Project Tanehope, we intend to invite the community to join us. Danny proudly says that his time in Mount Vernon taught him the value of serving others, so it seems a fitting thing to honor this young man’s experience here and the connection we have with Tanzania because of him by encouraging others to join us in this good work. And it will be good to work toward something positive together across any sort of lines that may divide us from our neighbors. Project Tanehope is a gift that keeps on giving!

(While there are many needs closer to home, it is a great joy to be able to partner in doing good work in the wider world with this gifted and giving young man. And there is no denying that it is cost effective! Where in the United States would $7000 have so much impact?!?)

May you, too, find deep joy and gladness in recognizing God’s abundant gifts in your life and in our world.