They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Today, as I’ve just returned from a remote village in Tanzania, I’d love to share a few photos with you! Sometimes, we learn a lot just by seeing more of the world………….
People have much, much less than we do………..but they still smile more than many Americans. The greetings they call out of their humble abodes spread more joy than the silence of Americans living their individual lives.
Kids gratefully lick every last drop from a porridge kettle, dipping fingers into liquid food left over from our breakfast. In America, kids pout over whether they get to have Lucky Charms over Cheerios.
Young kids care for even younger kids…….girls wear babies on their backs while mamas hoist heavy sacks and buckets onto their heads. I can’t help but think of teens whose mothers have to ask them many times over to wash a few dishes……..
Kids entertain themselves for hours at a time. They are starved for love, and happy to chow down each morsel of food they are given. In America, kids are celebrated and pampered—then, often turn around to complain for more.
People work hard for very little. A good year means there is lots of corn—not lots of potato chips or candy in the pantry. They give their best to us as guests–even if that means there’s goat intestines in the meat! (I had to quickly spit out the rubbery texture and was grateful that custom has the host family wait elsewhere while guests eat!)
A mom of six walks one hour to get to a small church service……..In America, many moms run ragged (and late) to get into the car for an easy ten minute drive. Fellow sisters, how hungry are we for God?
Missionary kids don’t always have many toys or movies……..these boys are incredibly creative as a result, and even their smaller siblings pitch in with chores voluntarily–because nothing else is grabbing for their attention. They build anything and everything out of wood, and the smallest things hold creativity and excitement for them. American parents, could we move away from the screen a little so other things have a chance to hold their attention?
This downs syndrome child is trusting and grateful. He’s needy, with feet as tough as raw hide, needing a good hot soak to wash away days (perhaps weeks) worth of dirt. But his smile and his love as he grasped my hand and walked through town with me, a complete stranger, was contagious. Can we love like that?
In Tanzania, you get asked to wed a man who is holding your hand a bit too long as he exchanges greetings. “Give her to me! I want to marry her.” You walk away quickly, shuddering just a little. And you appreciate your brother in law even more.
You might see a Black Mumba snake late at night, or have gigantic cock roaches creep your way as you use the latrine. Or, you’ll need to head into a pitch black night for the same purpose, thankful your phone is charged and has a flash light.
You might be out of toilet paper and towels on the same night, and the make shift shower will be cold. Your feet will get grimy just getting from the shower house to your bed, which is a mattress on the floor under a mosquito net.
If you’re very slender, you will get no compliments for beauty–but if you have a few more curves, you’ll be told that you have a “big” (when you’re actually tiny), beautiful body, and look like you’re pregnant (even though you don’t–this is considered a great compliment!). A row of men will be laughing and happy over their assessment of beauty while they drink home made liquor from a filthy shared bucket. You’ll look at their eyes and be so creeped out you’ll want to run–but for love’s sake, you stay.
You’ll hear screams, and watch a man chase a child with a whip. You’ll want to run outside to intervene, and your emotions will go haywire. You end up doing push ups and listening to worship music because internet connects in one part of the house.
You’ll hear drunks laugh loudly right beyond your bedroom wall, and it feels as if they are an inch away.
You’ll meet the chief, steeped in Spiritism, who, after two years of Bible lessons decided the Bible is indeed true, but he can’t live accordingly. You’ll meet his oldest wife, who is one of five, and you’ll notice her eyes hold years of darkness and pain. Ironically, the young man leading worship at the Sunday service is his son. He’s clean, peaceful, and strong. What a contrast of light and darkness!
Cultures vary, but God’s Word speaks the same thing the world over. When these men get saved, they quit beating their wives and taking multiple wives. As a result, the women often end up happier even if they don’t accept Jesus. The gospel always liberates and values each individual heart.
And the gospel is always true, in each place the world over. Culture cannot determine the gospel–rather, the gospel must permeate and determine the culture.
Fellow Christians, we must be okay to be different, not only in Africa, but in our very own, comfortable America. Let God’s Word win, the world over!