For me, the experience of Africa is living life at its fullest. It is a place where I am keenly aware that life is precious and fleeting and where I am constantly amazed at the resilience of humanity. There is little opportunity to avoid the darkest sides of life, with so many challenges to life itself apparent at every moment. But here in Africa I have no desire to avoid the dark because to do so would be to miss life altogether.
We were invited this week to visit a church in the Meru area, about an hour from Moshi town.
Leaving the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro we drove through the dry flat plains, dusty and near-barren from drought. We saw small children standing within a foot of certain death, as they vigilantly guarded the family’s goats grazing at the highway’s edge. We watched the Maasai herders walking countless miles with their cattle in search of even the smallest water hole, a residual blessing from infrequent rain. And we watched the owners of barrel laden donkeys retrieving water from a rare roadside standpipe, having walked days for water.
Many people turn away from life’s challenges here in Africa, saddened by the depths of problems and convinced that real impact is not possible. But to turn a face from the problems means to turn away from the depths of the people themselves, all mirrors of the best and worst within us all.
As James struggled to regain energy after a week long bout of food poisoning, we tried to manage some work progress during prolonged electrical blackouts, phone failures and sub-saharan temperatures. Even with these small discomforts we realized for the thousandth time how blessed we are. And with grateful hearts we persevered, thankful for the opportunity to be of some slight service or bring momentary relief to a Tanzanian sister or brother.
Leave but don’t leave me
Look around and choose your own ground
— song lyrics from Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd