Friday, October 30, 2015
“Do your best and let God do the rest.” ― George Larson
The elections are over and there were many changes with the opposition making a big statement but not winning the presidency. That went to the CCM (ruling party) candidate but by a lower margin than any in history. The island of Zanzibar is another story where the results were thrown out or ignored by those in power and more violence is expected along with another election in three months. We were very lucky to have as little violence as we did especially since the ruling party candidate in Bunda (who has been elected over and over ever since we’ve been here) was ousted by an opposition party candidate. What all this will mean for the country will have to be watched over the coming years. As power corrupts, it may mean that little will change, or it may mean that some good things will happen for the country and its people. At least we are still a democracy, one of the few in Africa that although corrupt, is not as corrupt as our neighbors in East Africa and maybe the elections will bring some good changes and less corruption—at least that’s the outcome for which we will be praying. We have been spared the kind of extremes that have beset Burundi and the attacks from Al Shabab that have killed so many in Kenya. We are approaching becoming almost half Christian (up from a third) with a fourth Muslim and fourth native tribal religions. Official statistics will still show about a third for each of the three, but no one wants to call attention to the growth of Christianity here and that’s okay with us. It’s not about numbers, it’s about being faithful and active servants of Christ and the more the merrier. Our church is certainly doing its part having expanded from two hundred members to over 5,000 in just ten years. We have played just a small part in that expansion of the Kingdom but consider ourselves blessed to have been able to help. Whether you bring peace, hope, forgiveness, and love to a whole country, a single village, or just one family, you are giving your utmost for God and serving, just as we have been called to serve. Sometimes, it’s as simple as giving a single pair of shoes (see yesterday’s blog), helping a student with school fees, training evangelists, hosting church conferences, or just providing a single bicycle and five Bibles in Swahili to an unpaid volunteer evangelist—it is doing what we were called to do. We have now given over forty bicycles and almost a thousand Swahili Bibles to date and have plans to increase that over the next few months. Now that the High Court of Tanzania has established us as the only legitimate and recognized Methodist Church in Tanzania, we are free to turn our attentions and funds to the uses God needs here. Of course, Karen and I could do more if we weren’t so darn old and decrepit, but we will continue to serve with what we can do and what we have as long as we can. John is also just beginning to make some incredible changes with solar energy for the villages and poor and is just now starting to make connections with businesses in Dar Es Salaam that have the money to make a real difference here. He can start the process to becoming a Tanzanian citizen soon which will allow him much more freedom to work and expand the mission here. Karen and I cannot become citizens because we would have to renounce our American citizenship which would cut off our Social Security payments that we count on to keep our mission going (and so that we can eat). It still hurts every time I get up out of a chair, but I thank God that I can still get up out of a chair. I may not be able to leave the house but we have many church meetings in our living room and on the mission grounds, so God still has use for us. Karen has repainted the entire inside of the house, built cabinets, created kitchen lights out of clay cooking pots and has transformed our house into a beautiful place to live and work. How she works through her pain is an inspiration to me and keeps me from complaining (well, not completely, but I’m trying). God never promised us that our work here would be easy and fun, but He did promise that it would be important and part of His plan—not ours. We got two packages in the mail yesterday, one from a former parishioner and one from a friend who has been here and worked with me on a mission trip to the Amazon. Packages are “thank you notes” from God as far as we are concerned, and we are always grateful, humbled, and excited when we get them. Well, this blog has been as rambling as some of my sermons, but what can you do? Here they say “ndivyo ilivyo” which sort of sums it up. We are where we need to be doing what we have been called to do. Hard to beat that, eh?