Sunday, December 14, 2014

Finding a wealth of community and time

"And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,  so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1:9-11

Mount Meru
(As I write this there is a huge African wasp buzzing around me in my cubicle so I'm a little antsy right now.) This past Wednesday evening marked my first complete week of being in Arusha, Tanzania! This also means that I am fully over jetlag, although God is good and it was quite easy for me to transition within the first few days. I think this really just means that I don't have an excuse to be lazy and tired anymore, haha.

sometimes I burn these wood chips that Ruby gave me
There are way too many things that I have seen and learned during the short time that I've been here, so here are two main observations thus far:

1. Community is rich here
First, thank you all so much for praying for me and my transition quite literally (11 hours difference from LA) to the other side of the world! As some of you may remember, finding community was something that I was worried about, but luckily for me, there are peoples of all cultures, ages, and backgrounds here so that I have landed myself in a rich community of resources, wisdom, and love. Admittedly, it is not the college community I am used to, but it's quite wonderful to sit at the feet of those who have generations of wisdom and insight to share. On the flip side, I've also had tons of opportunities to look at the world through a child's eyes again by hanging out with the missionary kids around campus.

Ben is obsessed with millipedes. I am not.
Dinner with the Radoslavovs
In addition to a diversity in generations, Pamoja is also composed of people from many, many backgrounds. Many of the American/Canadian missionaries here grew up as missionary kids in Africa. There are also two young women around my age from Kenya, which is really neat because African missionaries to African countries are very rare. I am particularly thankful for them because are something like culture bridge-builders for me; while they speak fluent Swahili and are African, they are also seeing Tanzania from an outsider's perspective and of my generation. (In my naiveté I didn't realize how different Kenyans and Tanzanians were.) Others are missionaries from Bulgaria and Australia, so you can imagine the wealth of cultures here! The goal is to one day have an international (not just Western) ministry.

going to Vineyard Arusha


2. I have time!
Since we live in a somewhat jungle-like area, it rains a lot. One day Sig, the executive director of Pamoja and I just finished chatting together when it began to drizzle. Raindrops started falling on the concrete steps where we were, and as I was about to return to my work Sig suddenly drew my attention to the dotted patterns the wet raindrops were making on the pavement. Some big, some little, some falling in triplets or doublets in random polka-dotted patterns. "Look how beautiful these droplets are." He said, "You can almost find constellations in them." Indeed they were extraordinarily beautiful, like a galaxy of tiny dark stars, and it was then that I realized what a gift of time I had been given when I came to Tanzania.

There is no way I would have even dreamed of stopping to watch raindrop patterns in my fast-paced Los Angeles (not like we really had rain until recently anyways). Here I have the time to read and learn from books, participate in community dinners, play with kids, journal, wake up early without feeling exhausted, go to market... the list goes on and on. I can participate in recreational activities that may not be goal-oriented at all, but are far more life giving in the long run.

Took a stroll around Lake Duluti last Sunday
collecting wood in the koko tinny (Swahili for pullpull cart) with Paul
Monday will be my second week of work here as I start on the Financial Literacy Comic series. I don't think I quite understood the impact of the project I was working on until I got here. For many, if not most Tanzanians, even concepts such as "supply and demand," "budgets," and good record keeping are foreign. I know my missions trip may not sound as glamorous as building houses and feeding "those poor starving African children," but as I've seen on skid row, systems like these often create dependency. It's cool to have the opportunity instead to give Tanzanians tools to better manage their finances and businesses themselves.

look at the Animation bibles they have here!!! :D
I'm thankful to be part of a ministry that doesn't pretend to know everything about Tanzania, but constantly takes the posture of a learner. Last Sunday Sig was noted how we (as Westerners) often think of love simply as being kind and gentle, but in Philippians Paul tells us to abound in love, with knowledge and discernment. My goals as a mzungu (foreigner) here is to learn as much of the culture as I can, because what I've learned from LAUP and Pamoja thus far is that missions and constant learning go hand in hand.

Anyways,  here are some more pictures of life in Pamoja. (You can also expect lots of pictures of animals because furry friends always make my life better.)

Pamoja's woodshop

Mt. Meru and Kilimanjaro are often hidden by clouds


Oops! The muffler fell off on the way to church today
Tasha being a shepard for the Christmas play today
Paul in his angel costume

con tanto amore,

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