Monday, November 10, 2014
“There is only one day left, always starting over: It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” ― Jean-Paul Sartre
Some of the things I truly love about this culture are also some of the most frustrating. People here live for the day; “carpe diem” seems to be the guidepost for everyone. Part of that is due to the high number of deaths from malaria, AIDS, and the other diseases and problems that keep the average life span in the forties. People here know how to live each day as if it was their last because it just might be. There is a real joy and freedom that comes from living for the day. The frustration comes in how that impacts our efforts regarding the work we do. A carpenter here would rather pay $3.00 for a hammer and have to replace it every week, than to pay $20.00 for a hammer that would last for years because he doesn’t know if he will be here in a year’s time. When we have Tanzanians staying with us as guests, they out eat the Americans, or Brits, or Germans almost two to one because they don’t know if they will eat tomorrow or not. It is not unusual at breakfast to see a Tanzanian eat five to six pieces of bread as toast or just dunked in their tea. You have to remember that this is a very poor country and the vast majority of the people are thin and malnourished. Being fat is considered a blessing from God—it means you have money for food and you don’t have to work hard for it. I once told a local man that I needed to go on a diet. He just stared at me and said, “Why? Is that not the way God has blessed you?” Don’t know about you, but I didn’t argue with that logic. It is exciting and invigorating to live with people who rejoice in every sunrise. We all need to learn to do that. It may be hard to get them to understand about saving for the future, but we have had successes in that effort. The students who receive scholarships to the Teacher’s College know what that means for their future. In fact, every now and then, they just all show up here and spend the day cleaning our grounds to show their gratitude. We sent thirteen pastors and lay pastors to a free seminary, but seven dropped out when they realized how long it would take to finish school. As disappointing as that may be, we still have six completing the two-year diploma program and will have six, well-educated pastors. There will be more as the years progress and others see what a difference that education makes. My wife, who took the picture at the right, has learned to rejoice at the sunrise (with a little help from a small dog named Sissie). I am learning to do it because what are my other choices? I can’t change the past, and I can’t live in the future, so today is all I’ve really got—that’s why they call it the present like “present” as in gift. If you woke up today, you got a gift from God. Say thank you and then live to show your gratitude. Even old men like me can change and learn to appreciate every sunrise.