News from Africa
The Living Compassion team is back in Zambia in January. Read all about it in the blog.
Theresa with her beautiful smile and one of the Living of the Living Compassion women.
Theresa is coming to the United States!
Most of you know Theresa Kapenda, the Kantolomba Project Coordinator in Zambia for the Africa Vulnerable Children Project (watch her story on video). She is coming to the United States this summer. It is getting closer and closer to reality. An excerpt from her most recent email:
"The good news is that I got my passport and it was so great that i almost screamed when I got it. All this because of Living Compassion, imagine. Thanks guys never in my life have I dreamed that i would get a passport for what? And to go where? Thankyou thankyou!!!!!!!!!! so so so so so so so much from the bottom of my heart."
The plan is that Theresa and Jen will fly back from Zambia together in late August. They will meet up with Cheri, who is doing a retreat in western Massachusetts. We would like to have as many of you as possible meet this extraordinary human in person. Let us know if you want to help host her in Boston, NYC, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, DC, North Carolina, Seattle, Los Angeles or anywhere else not yet on the list!
Visit our Peace Practice Pages
One of the features of our Peace Practices webpages is a monthly opportunity to turn attention to peace in our lives. It can be a guided imagery, a reading, questions upon which to reflect, or perhaps a particular practice to do throughout the month.
The Evolution of the Meditation Hut
In the beginning days of the Monastery, meditation took place in half of a 32' X 16' army tent. In the other half of the tent residents and guests cooked and ate their meals. During the summer months it was too hot to meditate in the tent so wooden platforms were placed outdoors for meditation in what was called "The Meditation Grove."
What we now call the Meditation Hut was originally called the Meditation Hall, and it was built in the original Meditation Grove. The first summer, only the floor was built so the floor provided a new, larger, platform for outdoor meditation. When it was finished, the plywood walls were half-walls so that the upper half could be covered with screen to allow air flow and keep out the bugs and mosquitoes during summer. That design required that the upper half of the walls be covered with plastic sheeting each winter to retain the heat from the wood-burning stove. Unfortunately, it also retained any smoke created by the fire.
Years later, when construction on the new rammed earth Monastery building progressed to a point where meditation could be held in the new building, the little Meditation Hut changed its function. It has served as an auxiliary location for meditation, a space for stretching and yoga, overflow housing during large retreats, and most recently has provided additional workshop space, allowing the Monastery to offer two sessions of the There Is Nothing Wrong With You retreat at the same time.
Last month the little Meditation Hut was given new life. A local contractor donated some windows to the Monastery and those windows went into the window openings in the Meditation Hut. After receiving its first real windows, the exterior was painted dark chocolate brown, like the rest of the buildings on the property. The little Meditation Hut looks and functions better than ever before!
The meditation hut under construction and the finished product.
Solar Power at the Monastery
In October, we completed two projects to improve our solar power system at the Monastery. We added six panels to increase our generating capacity, something we have needed in order to keep up with expanding demand. We built wooden racks on which to mount the panels at the correct angle to the sun. These racks have wheels, enabling us to rotate the panels over the course of the day to follow the light. We still do not have all the power we need to supply our kitchen, dormitory, meditation hall, shop, and several offices, but this has been a successful first step.
In November, we experienced a major failure in our solar system just five days before a full There Is Nothing Wrong With You retreat. One of our two inverters (the machine that converts the DC electricity generated by the solar panels into the AC electricity that our appliances use) malfunctioned suddenly and left half of the Monastery without power. For several days the monks scrambled during the day to find a replacement in time for the retreat and ate their supper by candlelight at night. A new inverter would have cost us more than we can afford, but we managed to find a used one in the nick of time. The retreat started on Saturday afternoon at 3:00. After a two-day adventure full of wires, voltmeters, electrical tape and other interesting things, finally at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, we finished the new installation and turned on our new inverter. It worked! Never have we been more grateful for the power that brings so much ease to our lives, or to the monk ingenuity that makes it possible.
The new solar panels and the monk's solar flashlights hanging nearby.