‘To help others is from the heart’ - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Home » Tanzania » ‘To help others is from the heart’

Lent 2024 newsletter


Steve and Loyce Veryser, Tanzania

Steve outside math classroom at Bwiru

Steve outside his math classroom at Bwiru Boys Technical Secondary School, with Mwalimu Dan (Kitambala).

For Lent, I usually try to do something rather than give something up. A couple of Lents, I have gone to morning Mass daily. One Lent, I challenged myself not to get frustrated with other drivers in Mwanza (usually I had things to say to myself when they cut me off in traffic). This year, as most years, I was still figuring out what I wanted to work on in the second week of Lent.

I’m not always able to teach my afternoon math class with the second-year deaf students. Sometimes they are busy with other school activities or I am busy with area director responsibilities (meetings, travel etc.).

Steve teaching

Steve teaching math at Bwiru School

In this second week of Lent, however, I was able to teach every day. Yesterday, as I finished the lesson, one of the students requested we do an exam on the topics I have taught them so far. Imagine that, requesting a test!

After class, a senior-year student stopped me to say he remembers our classes and is grateful. It was one of those special “moments” in mission. When national exam results came out recently, all of the deaf students passed. Other teachers at the school attributed their relative success to my extra classes!

You have probably already guessed that for Lent this year, I am going to try to continue teaching the afternoon classes every day. Of all the things I am tasked with, teaching an extra class can seem trifling. Yet it is hard to argue that this hour of my day isn’t the most influential on other people’s lives.

I had another “full circle” moment when my friend Amani (who taught me sign language and is now in university) sent me a few photos from a charity visit he and some of his classmates had gone on. They visited a school for the deaf in Dodoma, where they distributed school supplies. He shared the experience on social media and encouraged people to help others in need saying, “Kutoa ni moyo, siyo utajiri,” meaning “To help others is from the heart, not from being rich.”

Basketball game

Basketball game between Bwiru and Isamilo Schools. Justin Veryser is third from right.

Meanwhile, the basketball team at Bwiru continues to progress well. We recently arranged a game between my son Justin’s Isamilo school team and the Bwiru guys at the international school gymnasium, which is the only indoor court in Mwanza.

I had a hard time choosing who to root for! I have been helping coach the Bwiru team a bit since last year, but when they were up against Justin and his friends, I felt torn. Aside from allegiance to the team I coach, vs. allegiance to my son, I usually root for the “underdogs.” While the international school kids would seemingly be at advantage with their good facilities, once the game got going, Bwiru quickly took the lead. I (mostly) stuck with them anyways, and Bwiru ended up winning 53 to 39.

In other news, we’re hopeful that a local “sports charity” might help with the big expense of finishing the cement slab on the Bwiru court. They came to visit the school recently and were encouraged by the leveled court ready for the slab.

What are you doing for Lent this year? What are some ways your Lenten resolutions have changed your life and the lives of others? We invite you to share your experience in a comment below.

Your prayers and generosity enable us to continue to help develop future leaders such as Amani and make connections between people, such as those between Bwiru Boys and Isamilo schools.

If you would like to support our work financially, please donate by clicking the button below.

We invite you to walk with us as our “COMPANIONS IN MISSION.” Companions in Mission are friends and generous donors who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information, visit Become a Companion in MissionThank you so much for your generosity! 

Steve Veryser
Based in Mwanza, Tanzania, Steve Veryser is Maryknoll Lay Missioners' area director for Africa and Asia. He also teaches math to deaf students at Bwiru Boys Technical Secondary School. Steve and his wife, Loyce, have been Maryknoll lay missioners since 2018.