A year ago at this time we were preparing for our trip to Tanzania. You can read about it here.
Three months prior, I had recovered from sciatica pain that had left me hindered to the point that I couldn’t walk. How was I going to make it, flying over seas and living in a simple African village for two weeks. What if I had a relapse?
God was good–great!–in fact. I had no issues the entire trip, and my heart still glows with the fulfillment of doing something that was hard for me, that required faith.
We stopped in a village for lunch. We sat on the notorious narrow, backless benches in a brick house eating rice and beans and drinking chai. Jake smiled and made friendly faces at the children who peeked into the window. Not used to seeing mzungus, they scattered in all directions.
Then we visited some friends of Trudy’s from the Masai tribe–a nomadic, cattle herding people. We sat under a shade tree in their yard, visiting with two wives. Trudy introduced us, they asked questions, and she translated. It felt like we were visiting with two Old Colony Mennonite ladies in Mexico.
“Who is older, Andrew or Megan?”
“Do Baba and Mama Andrew have more children in their homeland?”
“Megan wants to stay here with us when Baba and Mama Andrew go back to Canada, doesn’t she?”
They invited us into their house and served us beef and ugali, but they stayed outside while we ate.
When the children came home from school, we were once again sitting under the shade tree. They greeted us and then changed out of their school uniforms. I was delighted to discover that one of the little girls was named Tina.
The wives and some of the children walked back with us a ways toward the guta. I held Tina’s hand.
Around the next bend in the path past a huge tree we saw a rainbow! Droplets of water in the air breaking white sunlight into the seven colours of the spectrum, each connected to each other.
When Jesus the Light of the World shines upon the connection of the missionary and his or her church, it will illuminate support and encouragement and colour.
Let us ask God to show us how we can better connect with our missionaries, so that the good gift of the gospel can be shared effectively.
That evening we all gathered at the mission house. We sang songs, we prayed, we blessed. And we washed the missionaries’ feet.
The next day we headed back to Mbeya, experiencing it all in reverse: the guta ride to the bus stop, the bumpy bus ride to Mlowo, switching buses, the crowded bus ride to Mbeya.
On Thursday the group went to Ngozi Crater Lake. I stayed back with Sheryl and these two sweethearts.
Afterward Trudy took us shopping at market.
Friday we flew home.
Finally, finally on Saturday afternoon we hugged these three. Oh, the rainbow of connection that shone then!
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21
“Dazi, dazi,” a small voice begged at the kitchen window first thing Monday morning. It was Kona, the down syndrome boy who came every morning asking for food, first at Trudy’s and then at the mission house. His parents had gotten up at dawn to go to farm, leaving the children to fend for themselves.
I spent the morning at Trudy’s, tidying up and doing some laundry. Termites had built a muddy wall by our mattress, and mud had gotten on our sheets.
Kona helped me, plunging a washcloth in and out of the washtub, splashing water all over himself. He fiercely wrung out the cloth and clipped it onto the wash line, chattering all the while. Finally he took off his shirt and proceeded to wash it as well. A murky pool spread out in the washtub water. The children are often known by the clothes they wear.
Jake made a water filter stand for Trudy, which turned out to be a formidable task since African carpentry is vastly different than what he was used to.
At lunchtime it rained!
It was brief but a much needed shower of blessings on the parched soil of Ivuna. Children ran in the refreshing, cooling, cleansing rain. One little girl set a rain barrel near the roof to collect rainwater.
In the afternoon, Trudy wrapped our gifts in black grocery bags and, as we walked along the village paths, instructed us on the proper greetings. We were going to greet the chief!
We were invited into the chief’s courtyard by his right-hand-man and then into his palace, a rectangular gazebo. We entered one behind the other, bowing, being ever so careful to not look at the chief. We bowed low and did our best to mimic the greetings Trudy uttered; then seated ourselves on the narrow, backless benches that lined the walls. Now we were finally free to look the chief in the face.
He was an older, thin man wearing a long black robe that touched his dusty black shoes. On his head he wore a round flat hat.
Trudy introduced each of us. We nodded and smiled, and the chief commented and inquired of our families and our homeland. Suddenly our visit was interrupted by the ringing of the chief’s cell phone.
On our way out of the courtyard, the chief’s son, Zanobi, invited us to his place. He was a bubbly, outgoing man who welcomed us into his freshly swept courtyard and seated us on couches in his neatly kept house. Mama Biti was quiet and smiling; their young daughter Biti (short for Beatrice) delighted in the girls’ attention.
Mama Glanti cooked fish and ugali for our supper. We all ate from the main dishes while sitting on a mat in Trudy’s courtyard. Trudy showed us how to roll the hot ugali (corn flour dough) into a ball, indent it with our thumb, and then use it to scoop up the fish and broth.
In the evening we went to the village square for chai and mandazi. We sat on backless benches, loud music drumming through the darkness. It seemed all of Ivuna was out, young and old, eating their supper, dancing and drinking pombe (homemade beer made from corn.)
As we ate the fried, unsweetened donut and sipped the sweet, hot tea, I silently prayed for the people around me. “Oh Lord, may they long to drink of Your Living Water and hunger for Your righteousness!”
Afterward a few ladies joined Trudy for a late evening Bible class.
The next morning it rained again. After a quick breakfast, we piled into the guta and headed to Lake Rukwa.
The lake was beautiful. Peaceful. I pictured Jesus near such a lake, stepping into a boat, pulling it off shore a ways and preaching to the multitude.
We posed for pictures and watched two fishermen pulling in their nets. To get to the water’s edge we walked across a sandbar, the wet sand sucking our feet in up to our ankles. The young and spry played tag on the shore.
Andrew and Matt walked so far into the shallow lake that they were only specks in the water. Later Noel asked why we’d let them swim there–alligators and hippos live in that lake!
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6