Wednesday, September 9, 2015
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” ― Desmond Tutu
We get so used to having things pretty much when we want them (not always, this is Africa and you if you want meat you have to order it the day before), that we forget how things that we consider ordinary are a true luxury to others. At the end of every day, I check my pockets to see if I have any money left over. Many days there is none because we needed food for the dogs, or petrol for the generator, or a new rake handle, or any number of things, but some days I have 5,000 to 10,000 Tsh left in a pocket (about $2.50 to $5.00) which is not much by American standards. One day last week I found I had 20,000 Tsh in my shirt pocket and noticing Charlini’s pretty much worn out shoes, I gave Juliana 10,000 to buy her some new ones. Rachel has a nine and ten-year-old at home, so I gave her 10,000 to buy shoes for her two. I may have mentioned this before, but unkown to me, John had given 10,000 Tsh to Juliana to buy reading books for Charlini. The next day, Charlini showed up in her new shoes with three brand new books which she then read to John. Rachel brought in a plastic bag containing two new pair of solid school shoes for her two boys. Everyone was all smiles from ear to ear. You’d have thought I’d given them new cars. It was just a five dollar pair of shoes that lifted a young boy’s self esteem, made him want to go to school, and who wrote me a thank you note in Swahili that almost made me cry. Last night, I had two 5,000 shilling notes left over and asked the two women if their kids liked fish (samaki) and they said, “Oh, yes.” Well, they really said, “Ndio, nzuri sana” but you get the idea. So, I gave them each 5,000 (about $2.50) and Juliana bought Tilapia and Charlini hugged me this morning and thanked me for the delicious fish (It should be noted that I never eat anything that lives in water. Things that live in water swim around in the very stuff where they . . . well, you know—not for me). Karen and John also love Tilapia which is available fresh here every day out of Lake Victoria. Rachel has a bigger family with a grown son who lives with her and her pastor father, so she bought Nile Perch (you get a lot more for the money) and was able to feed her entire family and even invited a neighbor to join in. I should have felt very good as everyone was smiling and happy, but it brought home to me how little it took to be a luxury for them and almost nothing for me. What kind of fast food can you buy in the U.S. for $2.50? Will that even buy a burger for one at McDonald’s? Here it fed a family of five with protein that is sadly lacking from most diets. We do so very little here, but it means so much to those who receive it. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do. Bishops Festo and Kitandu came by on their way to Mwanza for their bus fare and lodging I had promised them as they have to appear at the Tanzanian High Court for our case tomorrow. I gave them each $25.00 which will be enough for their bus fare and accommodations and food. So little, but so important. I am praying they don’t continue the case again, but give us a decision so we can get this behind us. We also have four students returning to the Methodist Seminary in Arusha next week. One has already graduated and will be made a pastor in November. Three others are returning for their last year and one that I have know since he was a teenager is beginning his first year. I am so proud of them. Bus fare and food to get the four of them to Arusha is just $100 for all four. Again, not much, but so important. Thanks to the Methodist Church in Korea, all other costs, books, tuition, room and board are paid for by their mission agency and God bless them for that. It just seems like we do so little and yet the people around us love us. Doctor Chris came by the other week for an estimate on solar lighting for his clinic and asked us if we knew how beloved we were by the community here. Of course, we are always feeling so inadequate in what we are able to do, feeling beloved by those who live around us just hit us as a quite a surprise. I guess if there is a message to this blog (I think there is a message in every one, I’m just not always sure what it is), it is that we need to stop thinking that doing just a little is like doing nothing. Doing just a little can change lives, alter the face of Christianity in your area, and rather cement your role as a good and faithful servant. It’s not about how much you give or do, it’s that you give and do whatever you can whenever you can and the love with which it is given and done. Facebook is full of short videos of what just a small acts of kindness can do. Christ told us to love others as He loved us, so how can we not buy a fish or a pair of shoes or a bus ticket when that’s what is needed? Every day, God finds a way to remind me that I am important no matter how insignificant I may feel. You, too, are important to God and His work—don’t ignore the chances He sends you to do a little good every day. A small pebble can make ripples that cross an entire lake.