As I’m getting ready to leave Tanzania, I thought it a great idea to climb up Kilimanjaro (part-way) and take a trip to Zanzibar, two of the world’s most stunning places. I spent about four days in Zanzibar. It was a great little escape from the desolation and the poverty that strikes pretty much across the whole of Tanzania. When I was standing at the beautiful beaches, watching and hearing the waves crashing again and again, seeing the beautiful blue waters and feeling the soft grains of sand against my feet (when the shells aren’t being nature’s legos), I almost forgot what I’ve been privy to for the past month and a half.
There’s a beauty in natural creation that is often hard to find where the people are. We often misuse and abuse what’s around us by the very things we create. When we were at the village, I was heartbroken by the garbage that laid waste upon the same land that the children were playing. Many children did not even wear shoes. I watched as one child tried to take a nail that had dug through her worn out flip flops. She couldn’t pull it with her hand so she started to use her teeth to remove an old nail out of her shoe!
Anyway, I went out to the beach early one morning, completed captivated by the view and the surround sound of heaven. In that hour, there was also a boat full of men ready to grab their catch for the day. It struck me in that moment, I may be enjoying that beautiful scene but there are people in that very moment looking for their means of survival. I thought about how many opportunities to see glorious things I had missed due to being so focused on what I needed to do. It sometimes requires us to step out of something to really recognize the true beauty around us. I saw that happening all week as my eyes were opened to the things I had really seen in my time here in Africa. In the midst of the challenges and the hardships and what looks like impossible situations for others, there is a marvelous wonder that we can catch. Just like the men on the boat, we may miss what is beautiful for what is necessary. It may require us to stop for a moment so we can see, hear and feel what is truly spectacular.
“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2
Today, I would like to feature my friend, Colleen. We’ve really been through a lot together. So much that when you look back, it’s as if it was the normal. Our journey began a little over a year ago in Brazil and now we’re here together in Tanzania. Who really would have thunk?
I felt like I’ve been on a journey for the past three years learning what community really meant. I went from hiding from everyone to finding a few safe friends and now I get the freedom and joy to say I have relationships founded upon truth and love.
So, this friend of mine, let me share with you just how inspiring she is. She also reminds me of another good friend, Rona. They both have this firy passion that is completely untamed. You’ll even find similar histories and desires to jump out of planes from thousands… did I mention thousands of feet in the air. Anyway, today, it hit me. I only have about two more weeks here in Tanzania with this friend. Throughout this trip, we literally have written chapters in our friendship history. I never had a sister but it’s always been a desire. I feel as though God is honoring that request of mine.
Through Colleen, I feel like I’m really learning what God means when he says, love one another. There aren’t many friends who would find compassion on you when you walk in sick into her room at 2:30 in the morning. Knowing her, she was probably off in a wonderful dreamland. I also have seen her consider me more highly than herself on so many days even disregarding her own needs to take care of mine like missing out on ministry to read 16 books of the bible while I lay sick in bed because I couldn’t do anything but listen. She’s utterly considerate even in the smallest things like letting me take my showers first knowing that she’s probably in for another cold shower. She’s willing to share everything of hers simply because she counts me more valuable than what she owns.
It’s absolutely inspiring to be on the other end of that much love. It changes you because you realize the gaps between you and what real community is all about. When you think you have nothing left to give and you see someone giving still in the midst of their need, you see how much you still have. You start to understand even more how asking doesn’t make you weak but solidifies and strengthens your community. Being vulnerable allows others to be ok in front of you in times of need. Being in community, you understand you don’t need to be perfect in every way but you can support each other to make a stronger picture of perfection together.
“A friend loves at all times but a brother is born for adversity” Proverbs 17:17