Tanzania to Texas – Part 2

So now we’ve fast forwarded 5 years, and I’m getting ready to head to Tanzania for my own trip. Steve, the leader of the trip is the same guy who lead the team when Scott went. And Steve is just full of stories about his past trips to Tanzania, especially the trip with Scott.

If you’ve never been out of the country, it can be quite an experience. We, here in the U. S. really have NO idea how good we really have it. We can say we get it, but until we actually see how most of the rest of the world lives, we really don’t get it. In fact, here’s a rabbit trail for you to follow. There’s a website called globalrichlist.com Check them out. You enter your annual income and they tell you what percentile you are in the richest people in the WORLD! Pastor Scott, (yes, they same Pastor Scott who was talking right to me that first Saturday night service), used this website in one of his sermons. It’s really quite an eye opener. I’ve popped in to the site off and on over the last several years, seeing how I’ve progressed up the ladder of economic success. I haven’t done it for a couple of years, now, and this trip was humbling to say the least. I and my co-workers will quite often complain about our salary at the job we do, and for the job we do, in the environment we do it, in this country, compared to comparable jobs in other locations, in this country, we really are underpaid, BUT… When I plugged in my salary from last year, (though I did work some substantial overtime hours), I came out being in the top 1/2 percent of the richest people in the world! There are LESS THAN 30,000,000 people richer than me, IN THE WHOLE WORLD! I have NO right to complain about ANYTHING!

Okay, back to the experience of being out of the country. When you go on a trip to a place where most of the people make only about a dollar a day, (YES, I typed that correctly – just one dollar per day!), it can be a bit overwhelming. Everything you see and do is a new experience. And according to Steve, with every new experience, Scott would rub his hand over his crew cut hair and exclaim, “I can’t believe I’m in Africa, man!” Everywhere they went, everything they did, every new thing they saw, “I can’t believe I’m in Africa, man!”

Well! With the relationship I’d had with Scott for several years, now, and Steve being an excellent videographer, we really couldn’t help ourselves. Since I usually wear my hair fairly short anyway, I had gotten it cut extra short for the trip to make care easier while we were there. I was a natural! We filmed clips of me imitating Scott in all sorts of different situations! It was quite a lot of fun, and even more fun when we got home and played the clip for him. (I’m sorry, even though I’m richer than 99.5 % of the world, I’m not rich enough to pay for video privileges on my blog!) 6248_1169738771136_5375091_n But here is a still photo of me doing one of the clips, sans head rub. You can probably tell that the kids of Kiziba village have NO CLUE what I’m saying or why I’m saying it, but they are very curious about this muzungu (white – I think I have the spelling right) woman and what she’s doing.

And all this story, now, earlier than planned because Scott came to my work last week and dropped a bomb on me. It’s nothing truly devastating. In the overall scheme of things it’s really no big deal. But it broke my heart. He and his wife are moving away. Yes, to Texas, how’d you guess!? It’s not like we have really stayed all that close. We don’t hang out anymore, since I quit going to the bar. (Yes, yet another story for yet another day!) I’ve moved on to a different church. But we are still family in the eyes of God. Scott and Marilyn are my brother and sister in Christ. They were there for me during a really tough period in my life, and got me through A LOT! It just hurts to know that they won’t be just up the road anymore.

Scott, Marilyn, you have been great friends. I know you will continue to be, though from a distance. I will miss your presence very much. Love ya!

Hmmmm. Where to Begin? Beginning, Middle, or Both?

Some say that the best place to begin is at the beginning, but I don’t think that’s always true. Especially if you’re the type to get lost as you chase down rabbit trails and never end up getting to the original point you were trying to make. And I am that type. I can go down all sorts of trails, following points all over creation, and never get where I wanted to go. So I think that I’m going to start with the place my mind went when I first started thinking about this project.

As I wracked my brain for an idea to start this project off, something that would relate to the Old Testament, something that would “be a witness” to others, I realized that the only place I could go was the Psalms. One Psalm in particular, to start off. Psam 116, the one that I read as my public declaration before my Baptism. But then I continued my thinking and realized that to understand WHY this Psalm is so important to me, perhaps some background would be helpful.

So, here’s the quick version of my early childhood religious upbringing. When I was a kid, my Dad would take me, nearly every Sunday, to the local coffee shop where he would meet with his friends and talk over coffee. I didn’t give a wit about the conversations, I was excited because I got to drink either Coca Cola, or CHOCOLATE MILK! Neither were not often to be had at home.

But even better than the prospect of chocolate milk or Coca Cola was the actual drive to the coffee shop. We did it nearly every week. We would drive several bocks off course, to a particular street in town. This particular street, in just a two block stretch, had four churches. And one block east was another one. Every week we would drive down those two blocks, turn east and head back past the fifth church. Once past, we would head on to coffee and cola heaven with Dad saying, “Well, we’ve done our churchly duty.” That’s my best memory of church when I was growing up.

In contrast, the experience ofchurch that does not bring joy happened when I was 5 or 6 years old. As far as I remember, I only actually went to church when I spent Saturday night over at my grandparents house. I remember that Sunday School was pretty fun when I was there. We got to play, have story time and then a snack!

I loved snack time, cookies and Funny Face koolaid. (I know, I know, I’m showing my age with Funny Face. Goofy Grape was the BEST!!) And I loved to help make the Funny Face, it was my act of service. But really what it was, was my chance to SNEEZE! I LOVED to sneeze when I was a kid. And when you dumped the packet of koolaid in the pitcher, a very fine powder would waft up and, if snorted correctly, produce an awesome sneeze.

And therein lies the rub. That is the cause of the bad memory. The leaders told me I was a bad girl for doing that. I didn’t understand why helping out was bad. Then they said I couldn’t help anymore, and that confused me even more. I got really upset about it. I had a bit of a tantrum about it. And that’s when they said I couldn’t come back. I remember standing in the hallway when Gramma came to pick me up, and them telling her what a bad girl I had been. They said I couldn’t come back until I learned how to behave.

And so I didn’t go back. I told Gramma that I didn’t understand why helping was bad, and I didn’t understand what they wanted me to change. I keep saying “they” because that’s what they were. They were the nameless, now faceless big people who got mad at me for being a good, quiet, helpful little girl. And “they” are the ones who scared me away, kicked me out of Sunday School at the tender age of 5 or 6 for snorting koolaid! I still had to go to church with Gramma when I spent the night, but I went to big people church and drew pictures during the service.

And that’s how my 40 years in the wilderness began.