An extremely thankful heart that we were all alive

An extremely thankful heart that we were all alive

While driving yesterday we almost had a head-collision with a seriously speeding tanker truck which came way too fast around a curve on a hill and on the down slope seemed certain to wipe us out. I am very thankful that I was not driving because I don't think I would have had within me the ability to do what Emmanueli did and to choose wisely and quickly and to get us safely out of the way on that narrow mountain road that seemingly offered us no place to hide. We felt the whoosh of the force of the air shake the car as that tanker truck just barely made it past us. No damage to any of us nor to the car, but we were all very weak in the knees for a while and it was a while before anyone spoke. When I had first seen what was about to happen I had screamed "Save us Jesus" and I can only say that He did, although I also have to give an awful lot of credit to Emmanueli -- thankfully he drives quite conservatively, we were driving quite slowly at the time, and Emmanueli has extremely good reflexes and judgment.

But although I woke up this morning with an extremely thankful heart that we were all alive, the "other" realities of the day, of course, inevitably make their best efforts to crowd all that out. But today I honestly have very little desire to let all of those "other realities" succeed. Godfrey has had to spend much of the morning getting signatures of various government officials which has totally messed up our schedule and put us behind. There was no water, hot or cold, to take a bath with this morning in the city where we were staying and there's something strange about my inability to function if I haven't bathed in the morning. The phones are not working here in Tanzania today which decidedly cramps things and makes us realize how dependent we are on them to run this sprawling network of 17 schools spread out over four regions of this country. But rather than letting it get me down, I found myself occasionally laughing at it all. It was as if the world around me was trying to conspire, through the big and the small things, to take away my joy. How utterly foolish it would be to lose sight of the obvious fact that we didn't all get killed or maimed in some fiery accident on that narrow mountain road yesterday!

And there was more. Yesterday I got to stand in front of a huge crowd of people in the village of Lipaya and see the new school that Lukas was succeeding in building. Five weeks ago it was an empty cornfield; yesterday when we got there in the late afternoon the place was a beehive of activity with the walls of classrooms sprouting up like anthills in the savanna. At the site were more than 410,000 bricks, an uncountable amount of stones, and huge piles of sand. The women of that village had carried bucket after bucket of water to make mortar. Certainly all of that volunteer labor makes it possible for Village Schools Tanzania to build classrooms cheaper and faster than anyone could imagine or dream of, and it definitely stretches to the maximum every dollar people donate. Certainly everyone working together on such a momentous project brings the community together in a way that is priceless. But what was beautiful about being there and getting to talk to the thousands of people who were assembled was to have Lukas stand up, to let everyone cheer him, and to remind the crowd that the young man they were cheering for was one of the "unchosen ones." He was one of the hundreds of thousands of kids -- a kid from a village whose name never came out on the list of the few who were supposed to get to go to secondary school -- a kid just like the kids in their village whose names never come out on the list of those chosen to get to go to school -- and now he had not only graduated from the very first VST school in this country, but here he was hundreds of miles away working with people to build a school for their kids. I looked out at the sea of women assembled to my left and I told them how incredibly proud his mother was. How when she saw my wife last week she told her that her great joy was knowing that her son was building a school. The son for whom there was no room, who they said wasn't good enough to get one of the few places in the government schools, who was supposed to just fade away quietly and spend the rest of his life trying to get by there in the village. Her son was now building a big and beautiful school which would open the doors of education to hundreds of other kids like himself. A poor woman from a poor village had something that all the money in the world couldn't buy -- the joy in her heart of knowing her son was doing something of great value in this world.

And I asked those women to look far beyond the walls of the buildings to the future when their sons and daughters would one day graduate and I asked them to be ready as the mothers of that village to let some of their sons and daughters come serve with us and go off to villages far away and build even more schools.

In that moment, in that cornfield turned school yard, I found something new to love about our schools. I've always loved the fact that the buildings are so beautiful -- they truly are labors of love. I get a tremendous joy out of our extremely high pass rates and I love it when the underdog kids outperform all of the other schools in their districts. And of course I love it every time we send out another new missionary to a village, because that is my calling and what I long in my soul to see happen. But what I rejoiced in yesterday is the marvel of what going to one of our schools does for a kid like Lukas. And what it does for someone like his mother too.