Back in early 2005, our Rector at St. Paul’s Church in Brookfield, CT, Fr. Andy Buchanan, put out an invitation to our parish to have a group of us go to Tanzania to continue to develop our relationship with the Diocese of Western Tanganyika.   Andy and a group of others from our church had visited DWT in the Fall of 2004.  He wanted to have another group go in the Fall of 2005.    I thought about it and decided to go.   I like to travel and thought that this would be an interesting experience.    I did not have a lot of expectations other than to go and represent our church and check in on some projects we had funded in the past.    Over the following months, one by one, those who originally thought of going dropped out for various reasons.   I ended up being the last man standing.    I remember Andy asking me if I really wanted to go alone.   It seemed perfectly fine to me.   I almost relished the idea of being completely on my own, as I have always been a solo adventurer at heart.


So off I flew to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and to Kasulu in early November of 2005.    I arrived on a Saturday evening so my first full blown experience of life in Kasulu was Sunday morning worship at the St. Andrew’s Cathedral.    Don’t get excited by the word cathedral.  It’s a modest building of brick with a tin roof and open window slots all around. No organ or anything like that.    When we arrived for worship, we followed the priests and leaders in procession while singing the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” (in Kiswahili of course), but since I knew the words in English, it was easy to join in.    What a glorious sound!   An entire congregation singing unaccompanied by instruments.  As we moved forward, I was invited to come up and sit around the alter with the worship leaders, priests and deacons.    While we were still singing the hymn, I looked down for a moment to put down my prayer book and bible.   At that moment I felt something very peculiar, like I had been in this place before.   As I looked up, it came back to my memory. 


I had a dream many years before which caused me to wake up in a start.  As I recalled the dream, I remembered that I was looking down much like I was in the present moment.   I felt like I was being watched or that for some reason those around me were waiting for me to do something, but I did not know what that was.  Then I looked up and all I saw was a sea of African faces.   I sat up in bed such that I even startled Cathy.   She asked what was wrong and I told her about the strange dream.    I thought about the dream for a day or so but eventually it faded into the past, as most dreams do.     So, when I saw all those faces looking up at me and I recognized this moment, I started to cry.   I was a little embarrassed and did not want anyone to notice so I looked down again and fussed about with my books until I regained my composure.     I realized that I had been given the dream those many years back so that I would recognize this moment and “pay attention”.    For sure, the Lord had my attention now!  


After worship that morning I was guided by Jackton Lugumira around Kasulu Bible College.   Jackton was the principal of the school at that time. It was a short tour since the Bible College only has a few classrooms along with a dormitory and few other buildings.    We ended up going into a classroom that had a couple of old PC computers in it.  Jackton explained that they had received these computers from a church in the UK recently and was wondering if they could be used by the students for Internet access or any other purposes.   I guess he had found out through someone that I was a computer expert.  I must admit, as gracious as the gift was from those who sent them, these computers quite old.    I booted them up and examined them, but the systems were just too old to be of any practical use. I dreaded giving him the bad news, but what could I do?    Jackton then asked if perhaps the company I work for could donate some old computers we were discarding or replacing.  That’s when it hit me – my purpose for being there.   I just boldly blurted out “Jackton, you don’t need our old stuff.  You need new equipment like we have in the USA.  That’s what we need to bring here”.    You can just imagine the delight in his face at this prospect, and you can image the surprise in my face for having said such a crazy thing.    Where was I going to get the funds to do something like that?    Nevertheless. I really felt after what I had experienced earlier in worship that God had brought me here do something way outside of my comfort zone, yet something I was uniquely skilled and equipped to do.  


So, after spending about 10 days with our new friends at DWT, I went home feeling blessed for having come and felt challenged as to how such an undertaking could happen.  I had no experience in the kind of fund raising that would need to take place, nor did I have any resources in Tanzania to deal with the logistics of getting computers out to a remote place like Kasulu.    But God!! 


I’m referring to Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved.”   I’m referring to this because when I got home from the Nov. 2005 trip, I had no idea on how to approach the task of getting funds to provide a computer network and Internet for KBC.   I really had to rely completely on God to show me the way.   Much like this passage references, I was in a word “helpless” in my situation, but God in his great love had a plan already in place for me to simply walk in by faith.   About three weeks after returning to the USA, I was attending an Executive Committee meeting for the Faith Alive ministry.   During our weekend together, the leader of Faith Alive, Tom Riley asked me how the Tanzania trip went.   I told him about the blessings and about the statement I had made to Jackton concerning the computer systems for the college.    Tom just smiled at me and told me that he was on the Board of Directors for a small Christian charitable trust and that he thought that they would be very interesting in funding the project.    Say what?  “Really?”, I said.   Tom gave me instructions on how to apply for a grant.  The short of it is, six months later I had a grant of $35,000 for the entire project which included a solar power system for the computers and satellite service for Internet access.


Getting the computers to Tanzania was perhaps the next big challenge.   I had been given the name of a very honest and reliable computer vendor in Dar Es Salaam who could supply us with most of the equipment we needed.   But there was one specific item called Thin Client Computers that I needed to get that were only available in the USA.   After talking it over with our vendor, it seemed best that I ship them over from the USA to his location so they would be kept safe until my arrival.   The problem was the cost.   I had not figured in the cost of shipping them over to the Tanzania in my budget.  And at the time, I was uncertain as to how easy it would be to try to transport them during my flight over from the USA.   Then two things happened that were answers to prayer.   The first was a suggestion from my vendor.   He said that if he initiated a DHL pickup of the computers and had him pay for the shipment, the cost would be much less than if I initiated the shipment directly from the USA.   That was amazing to me, that he would front the cost of the shipping and wait until I came to Tanzania to make the payment.   I can’t think of many businesses in the USA that would do that for you.   It was a generous offer for sure.  Then the second answer to prayer came from my US supplier for the thin client computers.  To reduce the cost and stay in budget, I asked my supplier if I could purchase the 10 units we needed at cost. I explained what I was doing, hoping that they would understand the charitable nature of the project.   The day after I inquired, I got a message from them stating that they had a meeting and decided to donate all 10 units to the project.   Wow!   I could hardly contain the joy of that news.    That put us well within our budget again, and as it turned out, for good reason. When I finally got to Kasulu, we found out we needed to purchase a gasoline generator to power up the network because the main diesel unit was down for repairs.    And you guessed it, the amount we needed for the generator was covered by the savings from the reduced shipping and the thin client costs.    Finally, several months later, we were able to install a solar power system to provide electricity for the entire operation from a renewable source.


Seriously, God is good.   That was the amazing start to this adventure which continues today and will do so for a very long time – I’m sure.  And all of this came about because of saying “I’ll go, send me.” to the Lord’s call.   I think a lot of the amazing things that the Lord has done in my life have come about in this manner – just saying “yes” to God, a step at a time.   It’s not that I have done this perfectly or without a bit of kicking and screaming from time to time.   But I am grateful for the chance to serve the Lord with the talents and abilities he has given me.


Yours in Christ,


Bill Schrull

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