Amazing Woman from Tanzania

I had adoration today at St. Louis parish. It was an unusual day in adoration, to say the least, for a few reasons:

  1. Workers with heavy equipment were making terrific noise and vibrations as they crushed the concrete steps and sidewalks outside the main entrance. They are working to expand the parish, which is great and we’ve been waiting for it for a long time, but it is teeth-rattlingly loud.
  2. I spoke with an elderly black woman at some length who had an amazing story.

She told me her name and said she was from Tanzania originally. I, being quite ignorant of both geography and history in any part of the world other than Texas and the United States (and even for those, I don’t know as much as I should), only had a vague idea of where or what Tanzania is. She proceeded to tell me how she was quite well off decades ago in Tanzania when Socialist and Communist ideologies began making their way into the country. Eventually, all people with bank accounts more than $250,000 were targeted as being too wealthy. She said she had more than this in the bank, and so they came for her, froze her money (or stole it), and then put her in a detention center no bigger than our adoration “chapel” (the baby cry room at St. Louis).

The only thing they left her with was her rosary, and she prayed it over and over. Eventually, she began to lose hope that God would help her and thought about flushing the rosary down the toilet. But then, she said she felt Jesus come to her and start to pray the rosary with her. So she kept praying it. Everyday she spent locked up in this detention cell, for over two years. After those years, she was told she could leave.

Immediately she called her daughter who was living here in the United States. Her daughter sent her a plane ticket to Kenya, which was the only way the Tanzania authorities would let her leave. “When are you coming back?” they asked her. “Next Tuesday,” she said. Of course, she got out of there and once in Kenya made her way to London and then to the United States!

While we talked, she would turn to the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance and say “I love you Jesus” and “Thank you Jesus”. I tried to imagine how I would endure having everything taken from me and being locked up without a trial nor contact with my family or friends for two years. I can’t fathom how I would make it. The grace that God has given to this woman must be tremendous.

How is it that I still complain to God about my life in light of such sufferings others undergo?


I work with many interesting people. I believe God loves all of them. Most of them do not share my belief in Jesus Christ. When I first began full-time work after graduating from college in early 2001, I was afraid to put up anything on my cube walls (like posters or even pictures of my friends and family), mainly because I felt I needed to prove myself first at work and not “make myself at home” until I had been there for a good while.

After a year or so, I got more comfortable and started decorating the inside of my cube with pictures and what-not. Eventually, I started putting some stuff up along the outer walls of my cube that anyone who passed by would encounter. I didn’t put up much Catholic-specific stuff for a long while, though most of my coworkers knew I was Catholic because we had lots of conversations about religion.

Finally, I grew in boldness and put up very Catholic articles and pictures outside my cube. It was cool because it opened up lots of good conversations with my coworkers about God, religion, politics, and life. Now my coworker across from my cube, who is a liberal atheist (I would say), puts up lots of leftist liberal articles and pictures outside his cube, so our cube walls face off each day. With interest we read each others’ propaganda and debate differences in our beliefs.

So if you workplace allows it, or at least doesn’t proscribe it, I encourage you to put up the Catholic propaganda!

For an example, outside my cube at the moment is an article by Mark Shea about the foolishness of the statement “You Can’t Legislate Morality”, a batik from India of Blessed Mother Theresa, pictures from the National Catholic Register of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger with young people cheering and crying around them.