It’s crazy that I’ve only been here three days. I feel like I’ve seen so much and experienced even more.
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
In the midst of hundreds of black faces, I was tagged along with the other “white” folk. As an Asian, I tried my hardest to tell them I was different. However, my slightly tinted skin was hardly the measure for being different. I tried with my hair as well and while the children were intrigued, they really could care less about my explanations. Really, we were different and they just simply had never seen anyone like us before. Perhaps one day they’ll understand but really it wasn’t my purpose to be there anyway. It did give me a great talking point to get to know them though.
I should explain, the last week, I spent some time in two remote villages of the Sonjo Tanzanian tribes. What I wanted to share was irrelevant because they were simply terrified of what looked like human beings that had some sort of white on them. Yes, they did try to rub off our skin color. Sharing and community is such a vital part of who we are as people but we often neglect how to actually do such things.
At first, the children would simply run away from us. I would have thought they thought the bubbles were bullets by the way they bolted away from it. We simply had to give them a chance to get to know us and a chance to let down their walls from us. It was a really beautiful thing when the children shouted our names and couldn’t help but climb all over us and our things.
What really surprised me was this one little boy, let’s call him Finnigan. He showed up with his nose running and shirt tattered. Unlike the other kids, he was the first to approach me and he didn’t run away except for the fact he wanted me to chase him. He would bring other kids to me to show them that I was harmless. Once that was all cleared up, the chasing game was a big hit. Obviously, this kid was a leader, simply a little rough around the edges.
I love how in the small situations that the real you, the you that is often overshadowed by life, automatically comes out. This child was a bit outcasted from what I could see. He didn’t seem to be very liked by the other children but he influenced so many that day. It was just a moment and it was just a decision. He chose to be unafraid and everyone saw how great a leader he was leading others to be fearless too. I’m excited to see where this kid will go. It’s already in the works to get him in through the proper channels to give him a chance.
It always broke my heart to see how talent, opportunity and resources were so unmatched. I find myself feeling blessed and grateful often when I think of how they were so aligned as I grew up. But I also know that I have yet to discover all of my hidden talents. I wonder what they are. Have you discovered yours?
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27