Sunday, 29 June 2014

Who will go with me?

Over recent months I have been thinking about returning to Tanzania. In many ways this might seem the obvious thing to do now that my MA is over and my Redcliffe post was only ever intended to be short-term, but it does not feel like an easy decision. However, as I have made enquiries, the doors seem to have remained wide open to returning there. So just a few weeks ago I turned to God in prayer again with that question that is perhaps at the heart of my slowness in making this decision: “Who will go with me?” 
One of the things I find hardest about being involved in overseas mission are the many transitions and how these comings and goings affect relationships. This is one of the things that drove me to returning to the UK, in the hope that back here I might have a better chance of meeting someone to share this life-journey with. I have stalled in making plans to return overseas while this situation remained unchanged, but I’m tired of waiting and want to move on. However, this does not make the prospect of returning easy, rather than excitement I feel apprehension and while I look forward to many aspects of life in Tanzania I also know fear over how I will cope with the sense of alone-ness.

And so I found myself asking that question in prayer, “Who will go with me?” and God reminded me of a verse that has been in my mind a lot recently, since a sermon at my home church on God’s presence. Moses asks God pretty much the same question, after God tells him to lead His people. And God’s reply to Moses was:
               “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Ex. 33:14)

Well, there’s my answer. It felt like both an answer to my question and an affirmation that I should go. To be honest, in some ways this doesn’t make things any easier, because that was something I already knew! However, there was something in the timing of it all that spoke to me at a deeper level. If I look back, though there have been hard times, I can also testify that God has always gone with me, He has never left me truly alone. Though the transitions continue to be tough and I have also been through a very dark time spiritually, wrestling with God and doubting that He is the God I have always believed in (a topic for another blog post?), I also know deep down that God has never left me and never will, and will always provide for me relationally in one way or another.

So, I continue to make plans to go to Tanzania and daily remind myself of this promise so that I might have strength to move on.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Different but the same

A little while ago I popped in to visit good friends of mine on the way back from the shops. They lived just a two minute walk from my home in Mbeya and now they are just a ten minute walk away from my home in Gloucester. I would frequently pop into their home when we lived close by in Tanzania, and as I dropped round to their Gloucester home I suddenly realised how bizarre it was – every aspect of that walk to the shops and to their home was many miles removed from Tanzania (both metaphorically and literally) and yet underneath it was the same!

Instead of a dirt road, it’s tarmac. Instead of going to lots of little shops I could go to one or two big shops. Instead of shillings it’s pounds. Instead of Swahili it’s English. Instead of asking at the counter I walk around. Instead of very little choice I’m swamped with options. Instead of a shop-owner with a calculator it’s a touch-screen, self-serve checkout. Instead of dodging daladalas I’m walking along pavements and crossing at traffic-lights. Instead of a cool cement house it’s a centrally-heated brick house.

But I got food and I saw friends. Different but the same :-)