Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Friday in Mwanza

Hello! I've been home from Tanzania for a few days now, and as I get over my jet lag and ease back into the routine, I wanted to share something I actually wrote last weekend and just haven't posted before now...

On Friday morning, I helped Eric and Liz shoot a video for their home church. Then we loaded up the car: Eric, Liz, little Caleb; Levi Nyaste (a pastor who was in the seminar); and myself. Soon we were off for Mwanza. It’s about a four-and-a-half to five hour drive.

About halfway to Mwanza, we drove past the entrance to the Serengeti National Park. We were able to see plenty of zebra and wildebeest close to the road. Baboons were not just close to the road, they were in it, blocking traffic. A mother baboon with her baby clinging to her back walked right by my car window.

I saw a man leading a herd of cattle down a road just inside the park. Amazing. For people all over the world, the Serengeti is a wild and exotic, world-class safari destination. For an average Tanzanian, it's a place to feed your cows.

We got to Mwanza in time for a late lunch at a resort on the shores of Lake Victoria. The weather was perfect and the place was beautiful. The Americans enjoyed Hawaiian chicken sandwiches and fresh cut French fried potatoes (or, as the Tanzanians call them, "chips" -- served with just about everything here.) Levi opted for something more African: a huge, whole tilapia—head, tail, eyeballs, teeth and all—and a heaping serving of ugali.

Our reason for coming to Mwanza was to spend the night and then have me to the airport by 7:40 the next morning. As we finished up lunch, we explored the possibility of spending the night at the resort. It was not terribly expensive, so we decided to stay.

Here’s a the hut where I spent the night:

And here's the inside. Notice the mosquito netting.

After lunch, Eric and Liz ran to town to do some shopping for things you can’t get in Tarime. I sat by the lake and worked on my sermon for next Sunday.

 Later I walked down to the beach. I stood on a rock and looked out over Lake Victoria. I felt the stiff wind coming in off the lake. And I spent some time in silent prayer and reflection. This trip has been nothing short of amazing. It went way better than I expected. Teaching pastors overseas is something I’ve dreamed of doing for years. I thanked God that this dream has finally been fulfilled.

My quiet time was interrupted when a group of teenagers came walking by. Out of the corner of my eye I saw that one of them was trying to sneak a picture of me on his cell phone. I turned and looked right at him, smiled and waved. And then…oh, my goodness—it was on! The young man handed his phone to his friend and jumped up on the rock with me. Then a bunch more of the youth jumped up on the rock. I put my arms around them and smiled big. One of them asked me my name. I said, “Claude,” but then remembered my Swahili name—Babadavid.

Next thing you know, that rock was a beehive of teenagers jumping up and posing, then jumping down so someone else could take a picture…at one point they formed a long line so that they could have one-on-one pictures with me. Of course I don’t speak Swahili, but I heard “Babadavid” and “Mzungu” (white person) a lot. And of course, I didn’t let them get away before I had them take a picture for me.

The trip is drawing to a close. Tomorrow I head for home.

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