Thursday, June 26, 2014
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” ― A.A. Milne
When we first arrived in Bunda to stay on July 1, 2005, we had no idea what lay in store for us. On the third day, while we were still eating pb&j sandwiches and afraid to go out much, an Australian Anglican missionary came by to welcome us to Bunda. Until our arrival, she had been the only non-African in Bunda for many years. In fact, she had been in Tanzania for almost twenty years. She told us not to expect much at first—that it would take at least three years before we would start to see results of our mission. After she left, Karen and I laughed because we were Americans, after all, and expected to have most of what we wanted to do done in just one year. Well, that Anglican missionary was wrong, it did not take three years—it took seven and we are still learning, making mistakes, changing, and slowly making our presence felt. When we came, there were four Methodist churches with about 200 members and that stayed the same for almost three years, but since then, we have established ourselves as an autonomous Methodist church and have grown from four churches to twenty-four churches and from 200 members to 4,000 members, but the real growth didn’t start until we had been here for three years (as Helen had predicted back in July of 2005). We had to learn when to stop pushing and when to start leading and encouraging. We placed only about eight biosand filters in the first three years, but since then almost 500. Today, there is a man here while I am writing this who is learning how to make them, so he can take a mold to the Congo and start making them there. Earlier this year, another group came and took a mold and after training in making biosand filters are now building them and placing them in Masaai villages in Tanzania and Kenya. We have learned to get rid of our American stop-watches and to start timing things in God’s time and sometimes He doesn’t even use calendars. It’s been nine years now, and we are just now accomplishing what we thought we should have done in just one or two years. We had to learn patience. We had to learn to laugh at our mistakes and to learn from them. We had to learn to accept what we could not change, and we had to pray for the courage to change what we could. We had no schools when we came, now there are six with one just for learning English and five pre-schools that are using the Montessori method. We have taught over thirty sanitation and hygiene seminars in villages and here at our mission, teaching from twenty to thirty women (and some men) skills and information that has saved lives and improved the quality of life for hundreds. Reread yesterday’s blog if every time I use the word “we” you think I am talking about John, Karen, and myself. There are new soccer fields, deep water pumps bringing water to three villages, libraries in Musoma schools, new Christian teachers graduating every year from Bunda Teachers College, and we are hosting mission groups that are building schools, translating the Bible, learning about biosand filters, teaching music and singing to local churches, and doing evangelism right here in Bunda. Along the way, I’ve been made a bishop, Karen has established herself as the teacher of teachers, and John is known all over for his skills in using and teaching computers. We were frustrated and depressed early on, but after you’ve relaxed and realized that “hurry” was never a really important topic for Jesus, God takes over and uses what gifts we can give Him to accomplish what He wants. We have given our plans the heave ho and waited for God to deliver His, and we are smart enough to recognize what God wants us to do and to do it on His timeline and not our own. It may be that we have yet to do the big thing for which God called us here, but in the meantime, we remain obedient and available—as we all should.