I haven’t posted for several Mondays. Did you miss me? I’ve missed connecting with you, but I have a good excuse.
This is my first Monday back in the office after nearly four weeks in Africa. The centerpiece of my time was helping to lead Cross of Christ’s third mission trip to northern Tanzania in the past eight years. Along with 20 others, including my wife and son, I was absolutely privileged to share in this incredible experience. I have lots I’d like to share with you.
For me and my family, this trip was something of a homecoming. My wife Barbara and I lived and worked in Africa for a good part of the 1990s, with the Christian relief and development organization Food for the Hungry. We were posted first in Mozambique, a nation at the time embroiled in a brutal civil war which followed on the heels of the battle for independence from its former colonizer, Portugal. During our time in there, living in the embattled city of Beira along the Indian Ocean coastline, the United Nations listed Mozambique as the poorest country in the world. Fortunately the civil war ended not long after our departure, and in many ways Mozambique today – though still dealing with many challenges – is a story of African hope and transformation.
During our second posting we lived in Nairobi, Kenya. Although my position required a lot of travel, Nairobi became our home. In fact we were committed to staying in Kenya and Africa indefinitely. God, as it turned out, had another plan for us. Yet Kenya won our hearts and remains a second homeland for us, including our son David, now nearly 21, who spent his first two years there.
It had been about 19 years since we left Kenya before we had the opportunity to add some vacation time to the start of the mission trip to spend a week there. We were especially excited to show David around to places he had lived at or visited as a baby and toddler. We took in some of the tourist experience Nairobi has to offer including the amazement of a national park complete with big cats and even rhino right on this major urban center’s edge, the Bomas of Kenya which feature traditional huts from the many indigenous tribes, and the Giraffe Center where as a little one David had feed twiga (Swahili for Giraffe) with a mixture of delight and astonishment when encountering their very long, black, rough tongues!
We also took David on safari to the amazing Maasai Mara, the northern extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park in Kenya. We stayed at an amazing tented camp in one of the emerging cooperative reserves along the park’s boundaries that benefit in many ways the local Maasai people while at the same time extending the land available to wildlife and providing a template for what the future of symbiotic human/wildlife relationship might be. I’ll share more, but let me tell you this was the single best safari I’ve ever been on! We joked that about the only thing we didn’t get to see or do was ride a rhino!
As much fun as as this was, the real highlight of our time in Kenya was visiting the Food for the Hungry offices, meeting new staff, hearing about the amazing work they are doing (some of which is a continuation of projects we were involved with and some promising new approaches to sustainable development) and reconnecting with two staff members still a part of the team who worked with Barbara nearly two decades ago! What a happy, unexpected reunion we had – thanks be to God.
I’ll share more in Mondays to come. For now let me thank the many, many people who are a part of Cross of Christ’s relationship with our brothers and sisters in Tanzania and who made it possible for me to return to Africa after all these years.
I think of two Swahili proverbs. The first is this – Pole pole ndio mwendo – which means “Slow, slow is the way to go.” And the other is Haraka haraka haina Baraka that translate “Hurry, Hurry has no blessings.” In my case I’d have to say that the wait to return to Africa was well worth it, for I know I was truly blessed.
Talk to you next Monday – I’ve got no more international adventures planned. Well, not yet!