It’s 3:13 AM, and even though I’m thoroughly exhausted, I’m having trouble falling asleep. It’s the jet lag, no doubt. The missions team to Arusha, Tanzania in East Africa began on Monday afternoon when we met at the church around 2:30 PM. Thanks to a drive up to DC, a flight into Istanbul, then another to Kilimanjaro, then a final hour-long drive here to Arusha we have finally stopped moving after nearly thirty hours. I can tell already though, it’s going to be worth it.
Whenever you travel out of a first-world culture into a third-world culture, it’s almost like going back 50 years in a time machine. Let me start by describing what I can hear: There is the soft drumming of raindrops into broad plant leaves outside the window. I can hear the other weary team members getting settled into their rooms close to mine. I can hear the muted taps of the keys as I’m typing on my laptop. Other than these things, I can hear.. nothing. It’s the sweet, enveloping silence that is so rare in modern American life in the 21st century. There’s no background music, no road noise, no a/c units humming, no message alerts. Without Wi-Fi or cell service, this is the first time I find myself without internet access in… years! I’m ecstatic!
I’m glad we opted to pay one-fifth the price to stay in a simple African style hotel, rather than the exuberant western-style hotel down the street. It would have afforded our team the same comforts and luxuries that we are so used to in Virginia Beach. How boring. Instead, we are staying in a place that I can tell was built by the owner. No, he literally built it with his own hands. We each have about 90 sq. ft. to call our own for the next week; just enough room for a bed and a washroom. You might think that I’m complaining, but it’s just the opposite. As I was showering off the airplane funk, watching the water drain into the squat toilet three feet away, and looking at open wiring on the water heater/shower head combo, I began to rejoice. The broken tiles, the hand-made furnishings, and the almost comfortable bed are all reasons for me to praise my God. Because, with all the faults that this place has, it’s still better than what half of the world is sleeping in tonight and, as I realized, it’s good enough. Even though it doesn’t have everything I might want, it still has exactly what I need. This is a lesson that Americans need to learn again.
Thank you, Lord! Thank you for getting me out of my pampered lifestyle once again to remember how 75% of the world lives. I’m thankful that when you came to the earth, Lord, that you were not born in a mansion, but in a manger. You never came to impress the world with your possessions, but rather, with your power to change the human heart and forgive sins. Let me do the same this week.
Maybe I’ll be able to drift off to sleep now.