There used to be an old ad campaign that ended with “Service with a Smile” and we are trying to do that right here every day. We were worried that Edina’s neighbors would be jealous of her new solar lights and might steal or damage them or cause her trouble. Instead, they are lining up to get lights for their own homes to cut off their dependence on the less-than-reliable Tanesco (national power company). The staff are jostling for places in line for the next installations as well. This is an oral culture, so word-of-mouth advertising is powerful stuff here. John’s got about fifty kits right now, and it looks like he will place all of them right here in Bunda. Karen’s Tanzanian styled school uniforms and Montessori based instruction for preschools is already being copied in several schools in this area. Some of our little pebbles may spread ripples all across the country before they hit the shore. What we have learned is patience. Things just don’t happen fast or as fast as we think they should but they do happen. Projects we thought would be finished and done seven years ago are just now beginning to pick up steam. We know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we do come from a “the microwave is too darn slow” culture. Still, our job is to plant, water, and weed, and not to harvest or take the produce to market. We most probably will not even live to see the results of the majority of our projects, but what we have seen just keeps reinforcing that we were right to answer the call to come to Africa—and to stay.
I have all my airline tickets purchased, hotel reservations in Dar Es Salaam, rides to and from the airport to the hotel and to Chris and Brenda’s in New Jersey are all sorted. Yesterday, Shaban was able to get me some American money for my travels. If you have to stay overnight in a hotel in Dubai because you missed your plane, the hotels don’t take Tanzanian shillings—in fact, outside of Tanzania they are as good as worthless. Not yet as bad as Zimbabwe dollars but getting there. Gasoline is at a new high, about $12 a gallon, but happily, diesel is still under $10 a gallon (for those of you complaining about the high price of gas in your neck of the woods). I will be paying in Tanzanian shillings at the hotel in Mwanza (the day before my flight to Dar Es Salaam) and can use them again at the hotel in Dar Es Salaam (I get in too late to make it to Mwanza, so one night—just ten hours really in Dar Es Salaam). I fly back to Mwanza October 3rd and then a two-hour drive back to Bunda. If all goes as answers to my prayers (and others, I hope), I will have another ten to fifteen years to serve God in Africa before He finally calls me home. I will be spending over fifty hours in the air coming and going in a silver tube with hundreds of others which is not my idea of heaven. Because of my prostate surgery that means almost a hundred trips to a small bathroom on that silver tube shared with many others. They don’t sell Depends here or I would depend on them. I will be carrying extra pants in my carry-on just in case. Not nervous about crashing but am nervous about possible embarrassing events. Another wonderful advantage of aging, still not a big problem to get to serve God and to help to change the face of Christianity in East Africa and to bring both the light of the Son and the light of the sun into the darkness here.