Friday, November 15, 2013
“Bad elephant. Bad elephant.” ― Our guide
As you can see from the picture at the right, we have been charged by an angry bull elephant. We had gotten too close and into his territory. We were trying to back up, but our four-wheel drive vehicle was spinning its wheels until they finally got purchase and we shot backwards. All our guide would say is, "Bad elephant. Bad elephant." We knew that and didn't need his reminding us. My life was passing before my eyes, but my wife wanted me to get out of the way so she could take this picture. She was actually rooting for the elephant, since we had invaded his space. Once we were far enough way, he stopped charging, snorted, turned, defecated, and slowly walked away. We got the message and have never invaded his space again. There have been many times in my life when I felt just like that elephant. I had everything where I wanted it and was pleased with the order and routine of my life, so I was displeased and angry when anything, and I mean anything, disturbed my order or space. You can't be a Christian and live like that. I have had to make many compromises in my life and have had to learn to be calmer and not to charge like an angry elephant whenever things weren't going exactly as I had planned them. I certainly couldn't be a missionary in a foreign environment and culture if I couldn't roll with the punches and adapt and compromise. Life is actually much easier this way and much less stressful. Tanzanians have no concept of "personal space" since almost everyone lives with lots of other people. Tanzanians could never believe that one person could live in a house with no one else, yet I would find that quite comfortable. We have to turn off TV shows and movies we are watching almost every day to attend to those who need us. I can't count the number of endings we have never seen, but I seriously doubt that that is very important in the grand scheme of things. I have said before and I will say it again, all that God requires of us every day is to be available and obedient. If you can do this, you can please God, but you will miss the endings of many shows and have to cut off many conversations. You may have to interrupt meals and alter your sleeping habits, but, in the end, those really don't matter much. Do they?