Thursday, August 14, 2014

“To be happy, make others happy.” ― Stephen Richards

We have done a lot of good things since we have been here: started churches, brought people to Christ, trained pastors, distributed Bibles and mosquito nets, produced hundreds of biosand filters to save lives, taught sewing and sanitation, held teaching seminars, gave away goats, and helped feed and educate many, many orphans—and that is not all.  Yet none of that makes us happy at the moment.  It has been very sad around here of late.  The death of Robin Williams hit all three of us pretty hard because he brought and gave so much joy.  In addition, a neighbor of Juliana’s died Tuesday, so she was out yesterday.  Edina came in this morning with tears in her eyes because a beloved neighbor of hers died yesterday.  Death seems to surround us both here and far away.  To try to climb out of this hole I in which I find myself, I think not of past accomplishments but of the truly happy times we have experienced here.  The picture at the right is of one of the best of those times.  Karen invited all of the wives of the pastors and evangelists to come here to Maisha Na Maji for a four-day workshop on health and sanitation.  These are all wonderful women who hardly ever get a chance to spend any time with each other as their husbands’ churches are scattered all over this part of Tanzania and travel is difficult.  The teaching sessions would end in the afternoon, but the women would teach each other the different things they did in their parishes and they would laugh and sing.  Oh, how they would laugh and sing long into the night.  We went to sleep every night they were here listening to their songs of praise to God.  One of the things that Karen taught them was how to dry meat by hanging it on a line and covering it with cloth to keep the bugs away.  You’d think they would already know how to do this, but it was new to each of them.  They had to hang it up every morning (we supplied the meat) and take it down every night for three days until it had dried completely.  Every morning they would hang the meat and sing while they worked—dressed in their beautifully colored kangas.  You can see and hear them here: 
The joy was both colorful and contagious.  I wish they were here now.  I could use the sound of those happy voices singing their joy from their hearts.  Their husbands tell me that they still talk of those four days as being among the happiest of their lives.  They were a blessing to us and the memory of those mornings filled with happiness and singing still make me feel better whenever I think about it.  Happy memories are a blessing from God, but sometimes it is hard to bring them back to the now in the midst of present sorrow.  Hard or not, I am so very thankful I was in the middle of those wonderful, joyous women serving Christ with all their hearts.  I am so grateful that God gave us room in our hearts to hold all of those happy moments and to be able to relive them when sorrow temporarily clouds the sun so that the day can be bright once more.  As they say here, no matter how long or dark the night, the dawn will always come.
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