Supporting the Sisters of Our Lady Queen of Africa
Kevin and Susan Welch will talk about the needs of the downtrodden in Tanzania at a Sept. 11 gathering in Lake Oswego
Kevin and Susan Welch of Lake Oswego are following the lead of the Sisters of Our Lady Queen of Africa: They are seeing a need and taking care of it. And they invite the public to learn about the needs the sisters see in a special presentation to be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at Foothills Park, 199 Foothills Drive in Lake Oswego.
Several years ago, the couple was asked to host a Catholic nun from a remote part of the African nation of Tanzania at their home while she completed training in the U.S. Figuring it would be the closest they would get to Africa, the couple agreed, and Sister Sabina Kabuga traveled the 10,000 miles from her home to stay with the Welches for a week.
Its a little nerve-racking to just say yes to invite a stranger into your space for that long of a time, says Kevin Welch. Well, we quickly realized that Sister Sabina was no ordinary visitor. What we thought was a risk was our reward. Our commitment turned into seven months of having her live with us, not as a stranger but as a part of our family. It was her rock-solid faith, her contagious joy and how she loved others that ministered to us, not the other way around.
Sister Sabinas order is called the Sisters of Our Lady Queen of Africa, a small diocesan order dedicated to serving the most vulnerable of a very remote southwestern region of Tanzania called Sumbawanga. When she returned to Sumbawanga, the Welches kept in contact via Skype.
After all, she was part of the family, Kevin says.
Over the past year, her stories have motivated the Welches and others at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Parish to establish the nonprofit Friends of Our Lady Queen of Africa to support the work of the sisters.
The nonprofits mission statement reads: In community with the Sisters of Our Lady Queen of Africa, we humbly walk with them in their mission to serve Christ by assisting them with encouragement, prayer and financial support in their work in Africa, acknowledging that with prayer and trusting in God, all things are possible.
The nonprofit work was rewarding, but the Welches felt a need to see firsthand the work of the Sisters, so they accepted an invitation to visit in July. Traveling to the remote region required multiple flights and long drives, but the couple said it was worth the effort.
The whole trip was transformational for us, Kevin says. The memories of the sisters at work still stick in my head as exemplifying a true approach to ministry as a Christian. Simply put, theyre for real. They search the entire region of Sumbawanga looking for those places that stand out like sores on a body, and when they find them, they go there and wash them. And this is done with the kind of no-nonsense attitude which makes it possible to serve in the most downtrodden of places.
Susan Welch says she experienced "every emotion" during the trip. "To see the sisters at work and the love they give I just had a feeling we needed to be a voice for them," she says.
The Welches encourage all to attend the event on Sept. 11, which will include foods of the region and entertainment, including a performance by Anansi Beat African Drummers. The Welches will share memories and movies of their July trip to Sumbawanga; they'll also explain the needs of the people of that region and how the efforts of single individuals can make a difference.
"Our goal is to paint a picture of the need," Susan Welch says. "We want people to walk with them and build community with the sisters."