A major activity Saturday was accounting. Due to interesting interpretations of procedures by the local rotary club we have been borrowing funds from Global Outreach to pay many Internet Library expenses until budget line items are complete. Saturday we got an advance against operating expenses and set about setting all accounts straight. Let’s just leave it at that for details – but it doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the task we undertook.
One of the challenges in all this is the 1000+:1 exchange rate, meaning Allen returned from the bank with about 7 million shillings – and the largest bill in the country is 10,000 shillings. His wad measured about 8 inches high. We spent several hours moving money and concluded only when we got to within $5 of everything balancing. Daily exchange rate fluctuations make it impossible to get to anything closer. I will be very happy to stop walking around with multiple envelopes (personal funds, Global Outreach funds, Rotary project money, construction budget) of cash in my briefcase.
Saturday night I was invited to a dinner party to celebrate the presence of Mark Hanson, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and President of the Lutheran World Federation. This makes him kind of the hierarchy equivalent of the pope for Catholics. He has been to Iringa three times and in my early days was a person I phoned for advice on travelling in Tanzania (before I understood that he wasn’t just a parishioner.) The partnership between the Lutheran parishes of Iringa and the St. Paul MN synods has served as a model for Lutheran outreach activities over the last twenty years and has grown to encompass close to one hundred congregations. I was quite honored to be invited since I was the only non-Lutheran there other than the head sheik from the region – and the only non-cleric other than diocesan managers.
On Sunday we made our first actual use of the new office. Miraji returned from Dar with a pallet of computers that we had purchased from a US-based NGO called World Computer Exchange. (No, I don’t know how they got theirs cleared faster than we have even though it was the same ship.) Although the facility is not quite finished, the storage room is basically done so we were able to move the machines right in. I am still optimistic we will fully relocate before my departure Thursday. That’s right! I AM coming home.