Easter is a time for new hope in the world – a new season, a new liturgical year, new plants in the garden, new plans for the year ahead. Catholics around the world are thankful at Easter for this hope and for the everyday blessings of their lives. Maryknoll Lay Missioner Susan Carpenter saw that Easter hope personified in her community in Tanzania in her 2017 newsletter. Below, Susan tells the story of new hope beginning at the kindergarten where she worked as a teacher. She also shares about the hope and thankfulness shown in the Easter services at her local church. We hope that Susan’s Easter reflection reminds you that hope and new beginnings are all around. Happy Easter from the Maryknoll Mission Archives!

In the springtime many of us enjoy new life.  In the United States, there is new warmth, color, and animal and plant life. In Tanzania, the rainy season is long awaited and much celebrated—it can lead to good harvest. There are many gifts of creation; yes, even new hats!  We may also enter into the ancient story of Jesus’ death and resurrection at Easter. Those of us who dwell upon his life and words find new hope…

In our own Shalom Kindergarten, Rehema and I see that the struggles of our children’s families are often rooted in the fact that these are impoverished mothers or grandmothers raising their children alone without education or financial support. When their mother or grandmother does not have work–and many do not–the family may go without food for days at a time. The need for food is a crying need for almost every family we serve. Therefore, Rehema and I will start a small group for the mothers or grandmothers of our students, in which the women work cooperatively to start and succeed in small businesses. Thankfully, we have models of some fine groups of this type locally from whom we will be learning in the next few months. This past year, Rehema has begun to co-lead a successful group of this type in another area of Mwanza.

Susan Carpenter with teacher aid Rehema at Shalom Kindergarten

Last week, I had the pleasure of spending the Easter days with a small group of Sisters in a village. On Easter Monday early in the morning we gathered for mass. The choir had been tremendous on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, raising the roof. Yet today the women perhaps wisely took a rare opportunity to rest. It was the men of the choir who filled the front pews. One took a drum, another some bells. And all sang. I wish you could have heard the profound beauty. With nary a paper or note, they wove the sounds together in so many ways, harmonizing and improvising as if effortlessly. The drum was like a heartbeat through it all. I’ve heard the singing is the same when groups work together in the fields. None of the men had a new suit; their clothing was tattered. No one shone separately; it was communal. No one took pride in it; it was all humble. They were simply there to praise and to pray, to thank God and renew their strength for another day.