Saturday, April 28, 2018

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” ― Eric Hoffer

            For breakfast this morning, I had ham and eggs.  Where you live, that's nothing very exciting.  It's on the menu at almost every restaurant that serves breakfast.  If you want it at home, you just pick up a ham and some eggs at the local supermarket.  But here, it's a different story altogether.  In the first place, you have trouble even getting ham here.  We live in a country that's at least a third Muslim, and pork isn't allowed in Islam, so it's hard to find.  In the thirteen years we've lived here, we've only had a handful of hams—maybe five or six which works out to about one every two years or so.  Very rarely, they will show up without warning at a special food store in Mwanza which is a three hour drive from here, and only if we are very lucky do we find one when we're there.  The other drawback is their price.  I don't know what ham sells for in the U.S., but here, a ten pound ham sells for sixty dollars—six dollars a pound.  The one I had for breakfast this morning cost just that.  How it got here is another difference between us and you guys.  This ham was purchased in Nairobi, Kenya, by our Australian missionary friends when they were there a week ago.  Then it was driven back from Kenya to Bunda, and Sam called to tell us they had it, so we sent Shaban over to their house to pay them for it and to pick it up.  Not exactly like stopping on the way home at a grocery store to pick one up.  We are very grateful for the Archer's help in getting us a ham to eat once or twice a year.  Of course, Racho has no experience in cutting and cooking ham, so some teaching from John was required, but she learns quickly and cooked it perfectly.
          Now, to the eggs.  You folks in first world countries know nothing of scarcity—you can get whatever you want, whenever you want, and for very little money.  Not so in the rest of the world.  Here, recently, it's been so cold that the hens have stopped laying, causing an egg shortage.  In fact, there have been no eggs for sale for several days.  Here, all our food is free range, from elephants to chickens, and so it is all affected by weather, poaching, and other factors you never experience.  To get the eggs, John had to buy them in Mwanza when he was there the other day getting a computer to use in his hospital project.  Mwanza is the second largest city in Tanzania and has some chicken houses where the chickens are as far from free range as can be, but they do have eggs.  Not being stupid, they also know of the shortages and have raised the prices accordingly.  We are so used to eating eggs as a major source of protein, we paid the high prices without complaint.
           What this all means is that a simple breakfast of two small slices of ham, two fried eggs, and a piece of toast was so expensive that almost no one in Bunda could have afforded to have it.  Not the same in your neck of the woods, I'm guessing.  It also means that I was truly grateful and very happy to be able to have such an exotic breakfast.  You guys need to get out more to truly appreciate what you've got.  St. Augustine said that the world is a book, but if you never travel you only read one page of it.  Almost half of the world's billons of people have never seen a toilet, don't have electricity in their homes, die of diseases that don't even exist where you live, and have trouble getting clean, safe water to drink.  It's hard to thank God for all your blessings when you are not even aware that they are blessings.  Just sayin'  

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