Out of Africa - Dwelling Spaces

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Out of Africa

We have been in Tanzania now for 16 hours and I already feel quite overwhelmed by new sights and sounds, the people we’ve met and the early taste of a very different culture. The international airport of Dar Es Salaam quickly gave way to sunrise over the plains and mountains and on arrival at Kigoma taxiing across compacted earth to a tin roofed shelter where our suitcases were passed one by one through a hatch brought it home that we were now somewhere very different.

The smiles of our hosts gave a warm welcome and then it was amazing to see our suitcases piled on to the roof of the land cruiser and we were piled inside! First stop was to see where Livingtone met Stanley then we visited a couple of parish churches before stopping for breakfast of fish soup and chapati. The whole fish winking from the bowl had been caught a couple of miles away in Lake Tanganyika earlier. As we left the restaurant we had our first encounter with significant poverty as 3 boys aged 4-7ish fought over a small bottle of water one of them was given. We were told they were too poor to be in school. Tanzania has about 25% of children not in primary education. As we began the 2 hour journey weaving up the mountains that border Burundi, we saw many children on or playing by the road aged 2 and upwards mostly with no adults or older children. The contrast with home was stark and increased as we saw many women carrying huge items on their heads, people moving piles of mattresses and firewood balanced on bicycles, and road side stands selling piles of fresh pineapples and more.

Our final destination was reached and it has been a blur of meeting new people and familiarising ourselves with where we’ll be staying and what we’re doing. Much more could be said about the animals we’ve seen and the new sights and sounds. But all day I’ve been wondering about how I glimpse God when everything around me is so different to normal. Kim said one of our challenges is learning to be guests not hosts. To graciously receive food that’s costly to give and yet you’d avoid in other situations, to feel helpless in the midst of an unfamiliar language and culture. These are the places we glimpse God, because we are discomforted and out of control. When everything is cosy and controlled I can begin to forget I need God. So here we go, adventure underway and I wonder what will come out of Africa...?

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