Priest returning to Tanzania, but ‘Love Repeated’ will continue good work begun
LINCOLN — He may be returning to his home Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara in Tanzania, but Father Simon Taabu has planted seeds in the Logan County Catholic Community that will continue to bear fruit for years to come through Love Repeated.
The organization, founded in 2012 by Father Simon and Nancy Davis of Holy Family Parish in Lincoln, seeks to support education, development, health and relief efforts in East Africa. This year alone, Love Repeated was able to do so by providing scholarships for 71 students, continuing to fund a pediatric malnutrition center, and sending a second shipping container filled with medical supplies and equipment, as well as a John Deere tractor, to East Africa.
Davis marvels at the goodness of God for sending the right people with the right donations at the right time to make this possible. She also credits Father Simon’s sunny outlook as the main attraction.
“When I first met him almost nine years ago, we became friends instantly,” said Davis, a nurse by training who now serves as coordinator of lay associates for the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in Springfield. “I kept thinking, ‘There’s something about him. I can’t put my finger on it.’
“Then I realized it’s joy. He’s just joyful,” she said. “He just has this joyful spirit that’s contagious.”
Father Simon was assigned to be the parochial vicar for the Lincoln faith community in 2010, adding the parishes of St. Mary in Atlanta, St. Patrick in Elkhart and St. Thomas Aquinas in Mount Pulaski, while working on degrees in educational administration. He has been a full-time student since 2014.
He holds a master’s degree from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, and is completing a doctorate at Illinois State University, and Davis said this makes them the perfect team to accomplish Love Repeated’s mission.
After she accepted his invitation to visit Tanzania in 2013, there was no turning back.
“I was even more sure that God was calling me to do something to help these people,” she told The Catholic Post. “We started in the fall of 2013.”
Love Repeated met Father Simon’s goal of establishing a sustainable, non-profit organization with the help of the people in central Illinois. He said Davis’s medical background and heart for mission work made her the ideal partner and he is confident in her ability to continue the work when he returns home.
MAKING CHANGE POSSIBLE
Education is vital if people are going to have any kind of life in Tanzania, Davis said. “That’s the only thing that can make a long-term change in the level of poverty there.”
Even with the right education, employment can be a problem.
Father Simon and Davis told of one student sponsored through Love Repeated who went on to medical school. He was having trouble establishing a practice, however.
With the medical equipment and supplies the organization shipped in two containers — the first in July 2017 and the most recent in December — he will be able to do that and help people receive proper treatment.
“That’s how love is repeated,” Davis said, noting that things just “fall from the sky.”
“It’s not that I have some phenomenal fundraising skills. It’s God’s work and because it’s his work, it happens,” she said.
The John Deere tractor that was sent in the December shipment was a gift from local farmers. Bishop Severine Niwemugizi had expressed his wish for the farm equipment since farming in Tanzania is still done with a handheld hoe.
When Dr. Lee Gurga of Lincoln retired, he donated his dental equipment to Love Repeated. Donations made it possible to purchase portable ultrasound and x-ray machines.
The list goes on, Davis said.
“We call it a miracle,” Father Simon said. “We didn’t think it would grow that fast.”
While Love Repeated is grateful to have sponsors for 71 students and seminarians in East Africa, “we could sponsor 10 times that number and still not scratch the surface,” Davis told The Post.
Because schools are not always located where the students are, as is the case in the United States, many of the Tanzanian children must travel long distances and board at school. Love Repeated is seeking sponsors who can give $55 a month — $650 a year — to provide this opportunity for more young people. That includes everything, Davis said.
She emphasized that 99 percent of donations go directly to the organization’s projects, since everyone involved in the United States and Tanzania is a volunteer.
To sponsor a student or make a contribution to the Love Repeated Pediatric Malnutrition Unit or medical fund, visit loverepeated.org or send checks made payable to Love Repeated to P.O. Box 65, Elkhart, IL 62634.