My Lord God, I have no idea where I'm going
He was a cowboy, hunter, farmer, cook, and soldier before being called to religious life. When Br. Peter Farnesi SDS became a Salvatorian more than 60 years ago, no words could ever have been more real. "My Lord God, I have no idea where I'm going."
His heart remained open to how the Lord needed him to serve during his first year as a Salvatorian brother. He said 'yes' to cooking at a Salvatorians' boys camp, helping on the farm and in the kitchen, working with cattle, and making bread for the seminarians. Little did he know this winding path was preparing him for his missionary life in Tanzania, which would span 24 years and leave an indelible mark not only on his soul, but on the country he came to love, and its people.
Soon after his novitiate year, the provincial asked Br. Peter to go to Tanzania, Africa, as a missionary. He dutifully received his shots, passport, and papers. He made a brief trip home to say goodbye to his family in California. Then, he and Br. Joseph Kruetzer SDS boarded a plane flying first to Rome, and then to Africa in November 1960. They went to Tanzania to help, but without any idea of how. Br. Joseph went on to Masasi and Br. Peter to Nandembo.
Even in 1960, life in southern Tanzania, where Br. Peter was stationed, was still very primitive. Working side by side with the people of Nandembo, his first project was to improve the springs for clean water. He then began to make 100,000 bricks, so they could add on to the clinic. "Seeds of faith were planted all along, not by preaching, but by living, loving and learning with God's people," said Br. Peter. "We did not decide who should get help; we helped everyone as best we could - because you are a child of God no matter where or how you live your life."
Twenty-four years later, exhausted, but overflowing with love and compassion for the people of Tanzania, Br. Peter was ready to return to the USA. "It broke my heart to leave. They are loving, beautiful people. I trusted them, and they trusted me. It was time to go," he shared. "We built the foundation of the Christian Church, and it was then up to the Tanzanians to build the walls of their church." Br. Peter has been able to return to Africa three times. "It is always so bittersweet.
I always knew that the Africans would build on the foundation we left," he said. "I never thought I would live long enough to see it. God was always preparing me for this missionary life. I finally understand all these decades later, that our Lord had his finger in this the whole time."