When we first moved here almost eleven years ago, our best friends were Southern Baptist missionaries in Musoma who had been here well over twenty years. They, Paul and Kathy Savage, were such good friends that when I had surgery in Nairobi in 2006, Paul rode a bus to Nairobi just to sit with Karen during my surgery without even knowing which hospital was doing the surgery. He found Karen and sat with her. He also caught a worker red handed who had been with them for years and whom they loved--stealing money from their special safe in the house. Paul said it wasn’t the money that hurt, it was the betrayal of trust. At the time, I thought that we would take such good care of our people (not that Paul didn’t) that we would never have that problem. Then I got an email yesterday from some Anglican missionaries who are back home in England, but who had served here for at least twenty years as well. They wrote, “We truly understand the heartbreak of being let down by someone you have trusted for years. It happened to us in Musoma. We kept our 'panic money' hidden with our spare clothes and when we went to get it, it had gone. There were other small thefts as well but the main concern was a feeling of betrayal of trust. Years of medical bills, new bicycles to replace 'stolen' ones etc. even a child named after one of us. The worst thing was having it thrown back in our faces; ‘You say you are Christians, why don't you forgive and carry on employing me. If you don't, you aren't really Christians.’ We still carry the hurts of that even 10 years later.”
Naturally, this is not unique to Tanzania, people who have been loved and trusted have betrayed many people in many countries. We have to get past the hurt, move into healing, love the one who hurt us, but protect ourselves from those we know will hurt us again and move on. We have found out that she has hated us for years because we didn’t build her a house and buy her a motorbike. Of course, we haven’t done that for anyone, but somehow, maybe from neighbors and family telling her that if we really loved her, we would have showered her with riches. We lost another long-time worker because his wife was saying the same thing to him about not having been given a house. He left but came back a year later to see if he could get his job back--he couldn't. We trust everyone until they prove that we cannot trust them, then we never trust them again. We forgive them, we love them, we want good things to happen to them, but we will never rehire them and expose ourselves to that hurt again. Yes, Christians forgive, but forgiveness doesn’t mean amnesty or totality of trust ever again. When another worker left demanding a lot of money and wanting his job back, he took us to labor arbitration. Not only did he not win, but the labor judge thanked me for “my humanity” in my dealings with him. We can show love and do, but forgiving the saw for cutting off your hand is one thing. Sticking your hand back into the saw is quite another. Yes, we hurt (my heart hurts much worse than the incision in my head), but we will continue to love and to do all we can to help Charlini. We are praying for Juliana every day that God will heal her heart. My doctor thinks she may have a tumor, but others say that her sister is mentally ill, and that it runs in the family. I don’t know, but we do trust God and His mercy. We are asking for prayers for Juliana, for Charlini, and for ourselves. Being an authentic Christian is never easy, but Christ never said it would be.