In the wee hours of Monday morning we arrived in the hot and muggy Tanzanian airport.
We got to our guesthouse and crashed onto our bed under our mosquito nets, thankful to finally be here. We'd made it. The adventure was actually beginning.
Many days were spent surfing the city of Dar es Salam for supplies and food to cover the next few months in the village. There was much to see, many bustling streets and commotion. By Thursday we had packed the jeep so full I was sure it would burst.
Max and I crawled into our seats and squeezed in with our new little friends, for the bumpy ride into Mloka.
And now, in a blink, we have been here experiencing life in the village for over a month.
Everything feels new and different.
I feel like a little sponge trying to absorb everything around me.
The buzz of the market
The pace of life
The flow of the language
The cheerful greetings
The sparkling sky at night
The deep coloured sunsets on the river
The constant dirty feet and dusty everything
The new sweet faces and smiles
All the new names and stories and laughter
It feels like the fullest 4 weeks of life. My mind is so full. My heart is so full. I am in love and heartbroken all in one.
There is much sadness.
Much theft and selfish gain
Much darkness behind closed doors.
And that's harder to absorb. Problems beyond my capacity.
Harder to absorb and not become frustrated and angry and judgemental.
To not feel totally inadequate and overwhelmed.
But nothing is to hard for God.
All the little neglected children.
The hardened hearts.
Gods love can bring comfort, redemption and peace.
There is hope.
Hope to discover.
There is hope for these people, for this village and purpose for us while we're here.
Learning to trust that God wastes nothing. That all of my hugs and kisses and smiles and conversations and learning and new friendships can be used for his glory. To "never get tired if doing what is good." (Galatians 6:9) Because God wastes nothing. He uses everything for his glory.
Stepping away from what has been my "normal" has been really refreshing. Sometimes it's hard. But a lot of the time it's enhancing.
It digs at your soul and pushes you to let go of your grip of control and allow humility, compassion, and empathy to invade. A heart that can be taught, to learn, to rethink, to re-prioritize, to wonder.
I feel like I'm on a crash course where I'm learning so much everyday and God is continuing to ask me to empty myself and absorb his word, his love, his truth. To become servant hearted, to release my my self-focus and seek to love others first.
To allow God to lead me on the road ahead, knowing he loves me deeper than I can imagine. He loves these little ones more than I ever could. And if I let him interrupt my life and my "idea"of how things should be he will lead me deeper into faith, deeper into his love.
He weaves every thread, even the ones I can't see or don't understand into a beautiful tapestry of life.
I just need to trust and listen to his voice.
Oh I wish I could describe in perfect detail the things I am learning, the things my eyes are seeing and what my mind is trying to grasp.
My journal is already bursting with stories I can't wait to share.
God is here. He is amongst these people and he is doing a great thing.
School starts on Monday! There are almost 180 students so far. Sunday school is blossoming at the church and new faces come every week. Max is learning how to play soccer with the locals in the sand, preaching on Sundays and new friendships are blossoming everywhere.
This life is a beautiful thing.
We've spent many hot afternoons walking into town and stopping to see our little friends on the way. Sitting in the dirt and learning names, playing soccer and twigga twigga, tembo, singing songs, wandering through the forest finding fruit trees, the best hang out spots and shade. Caring for cuts and scrapes and cracked toes. Taking turns carrying the littles, sharing water cups and shoes.
I always come home dirty and tired and with an extremely full heart.
Last week, our little friends called out to us, "Leeesha, mahaaxi!" as we passed by their homes. One little girl - Afsa - came up to me and held up the cutest little baby who happened to have no pants. I cuddled him and gave him a kiss and all the children around me giggled SO MUCH. Maybe at me. Maybe at the baby's naked bum, maybe at my Swahili- I'll never know.
If I could sit in the dirt with these children and share the love of Christ with them for the rest of my life, I probably would.
I have so much peace.
There are many stories to add and adventures to come.
Some of overcoming fears of scorpions in the shower, poisonous snakes, and spiders galore. Awkward language barriers and struggles to communicate. Sweaty, dusty everything.
And yet many stories are sweeter, of dusty roads and hidden trails. Hours spent talking on grass mats, knelt in the dirt, sitting on porches and around the fire. Consuming all sorts of new foods and smells. Smiles, laughter and many many new friends.
Much to see and much to learn.
Thus, this is our little update from our first month in the African bush.
Blessings and love from across the world.