I know I should just go to bed, but Godfrey & Emmanueli are driving tonight coming back from their long two weeks in the Rukwa region, and the part of me that is like a dad wants to wait up and make sure that they make it home safely. I’ve had such a wonderful evening, such an inspirational evening, and a part of me also just doesn’t want the evening to end.
This week we have made the momentous decision to send word into the villages that we have approved opening four more new schools. People still have a tremendous amount of work to do in the next 27 days and yet we feel that it will not only encourage them but it is also reasonable to aim to open these schools. I am reminded of the woman who stood up in one village not long ago and prayed to God to give us strength when we get tired, to not let this opportunity slip through our fingers, that the day might come soon that the children of our village might go to school.
Godfrey and Emmanueli dropped me off at the Chinese restaurant in town and they were off hunting for spare parts for our vehicles. They left me there because I would be nothing but a liability – not simply because I know nothing about spare parts – but because my very presence would make it harder to get a good price. It wasn’t anywhere near lunch time, but I figured I could plug in my computer and work and wait for them to show up and then we’d splurge and have a treat.
Quite a lot of what I do here in Tanzania I truly enjoy doing. Some of what I have to do is “less than fun” and a lot of what I have to do every day is hardly anything that people would find interesting, nothing as they say that’s worth “writing home to mom about”. Work is work, and work has to get done. But there is a part of my life here that I truly look forward to and love doing: I get a tremendous amount of joy out of traveling with Godfrey and Emmanueli to new villages where we have been invited to start new schools.
I certainly never thought I would be spending the night tonight in our "retirement house". In fact, I didn't even plan to be here in Kising'a at all! According to the schedule, right now Emmanueli and I were supposed to be in the little village of Taweta hundreds of miles away in the Morogoro region and tomorrow we were supposed to participate in the grand opening of our latest new school. But three nights ago when Emmanueli and I were in the village of Bukimau, Godfrey called to say the mechanics had given up and neither Hewa nor Yatima were going to be drivable any time soon.
How I wish all of you could have been "flies on the wall" at our leadership conference this morning.
I don't sit in cafes very much. First of all, we don't have a lot of them here in Tanzania -- our mgahawas are more places to eat and go -- the food is cheap, a buck or two a plate, and you're not really paying for the atmosphere, and so you normally come in order to keep hunger at bay and you leave pretty much as quickly as you can, and Godfrey & Emmanueli and I do a lot of that when we're traveling.
Sixty thousand shillings -- it's not much more than thirty five dollars these days -- and yet, in many respects in this place and at this time, it is truly an unbelievable amount of money. It is without a doubt a tremendous amount of money for the pastor of a small congregation of believers in the little village of Taweta. A incredible amount of money for that pastor to bring to Anyisile, and together with the elders of the church, to say that we have taken up an offering and want to bring this money, as our offering unto God, for the building of the school for the children of this village.
I can see myself one day much more of "an old man" than I am now, walking a bit slower than I do now, with Grace walking on my left and Little G on my right. Those two little kids will be grown up then, they'll have gone to kindergarten and primary school and secondary school, they'll be at the age when they'll be thinking about what they want to do with their lives, and I'm planning out how I'm going to call the two of them to go on a walk with me.
It has been nearly 72 hours without any word from Godfrey and Emmanueli. It was three days ago that I got their last rushed text message to let me know that they were beginning to descend the mountains, Yatima (our car) in the lead, Tunda (one of our dump trucks) following slowly behind. We all knew we would probably be without any contact for a long time. But then the hours dragged into a full day, then into two full days.