Thursday, 26 May 2011

From plane to daladala

For the first two weeks of this month I was excited to welcome guests to Tanzania – my first guests from home in four years! My aim was to give them as real a picture of life here as is possible in such a short time. So these two weeks saw them experiencing various extremes – from planes to daladalas (local overcrowded, uncomfortable and poorly maintained public transport), from luxury lodges to a Tanzanian friend’s home, from exquisite Zanzibarian cuisine to rice and stew (which also tastes good!).

Ever since returning to Tanzania in January I had been looking forward to their visit and had fun making the guest room nice and making plans. It’s hard to explain just how or why having guests is so significant. Have you ever found yourself retelling a funny incident to someone, but the other person just doesn’t laugh because you just had to be there?! Well, multiply that feeling a million times over. Guests are so significant because “you just had to be there” to have realised what life is like for us here.

As well as living in my home for a few days (meeting my friends and colleagues, visiting my work place, climbing the mountain behind my house, attending a dedication ceremony for some books that have been translated in one of the language areas and going to the church I attend) we also enjoyed some of the tourist delights of Tanzania – a safari in Ruaha National Park and several days on the island of spices (with lots of rain and sun and great food). To see some pictures click here.

Now they have gone, and it has taken me a while to adjust to my empty house. I find myself very much missing friends and family back home. However, at the same time, I am very aware that God is with me and I find comfort and strength from His Word. (I’m trying to read the Bible in a year and though there’s lots I don’t understand there’s also lots to challenge and encourage me. Reading Joshua now). Sometimes day to day life here can be emotionally tiring just because of how much we stand out – as we walk down the street, as we sit in meetings (and find it hard to follow the quick Swahili discussions), as we work with people whose cultures and attitudes are often very different from our own. But the Lord is our Shepherd, and He will lead us and bring us to find rest in Him, if we will give Him space in our lives to do so!