Monday, June 16, 2014

Always Changing

Things at the learning center—and on the mission field—are constantly changing. It’s a hard reality of life here—the friendships we gain grow quickly and deeply, but the frequent hellos and goodbyes tear at your heart just that much more.

Last term two families on our team returned to their home countries of America and New Zealand. Others in our community went to Australia and America on furloughs with plans to return. Recently, with the announcement of another family returning to the States soon, one of our students cried,

"Why does everyone we love have to leave?"

I feel it too! Couldn't resist taking a picture
with this shirt I found at the local market...
it describes our lives to a T!

Even my classroom changes a lot from month to month—and from day to day! Depending on parent volunteers at the learning center, I might have an American 3-year-old joining in, or a second-language 5-year-old Dutch student whose Swahili far surpasses mine (hmm... make that third language!?). My students here in Musoma come from New Zealand, America, Australia, and the Netherlands. We learn more about each country and culture all the time. We’ve been known to count in English, Swahili, Dutch, Spanish, German, and French for morning routines, and have to translate between American/British/Australian/New Zealand English (and vowel sounds!) on a regular basis.

I explain terms like “porch,” "gym," and “Easter Bunny” while my students familiarly use terms like amoeba and bilharzia, monitor lizard and dengue flour, know the potential issues with drinking (or touching) unclean water, and can quickly write the steps to how to get to Australia from Tanzania for their second grade sequential writing assignment. We read ABC books not just about super-heroes, but about countries where our parents come from. We celebrate not only Christmas but Australia Day, ANZAC Day, American Thanksgiving, the Queen’s Birthday, the other Queen’s Birthday, and have both Christian and Muslim holidays off from school according to the Tanzanian holiday schedule.

Lately I’ve been musing (a bit miserably, I'll admit); “Nobody ever told me I’d have to leave family twice!” (I knew I was leaving family, friends, etc when I came... I just didn't realize how hard it would be to leave here when heading back!) I do know how transition works, so the statement might not be exactly true! But on the flip side, as I am now the one preparing to go, I realize just how much God has provided “family” for me here in Tanzania – dear friends that I can go laugh or cry with at a moment’s notice, call early in the morning about a break-in, or commiserate over the abundance of malaria cases or lack of electricity as of late. Just as I’ve turned to Mark 10:29 for comfort so many times while missing family events in America, I now turn again to this Scripture for comfort as I leave the amazing family I’ve gained here, trusting God has great plans for me in whatever - and wherever - is next!

"I tell you the Truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age... and in the age to come, eternal life."
- Mark 10:29-31

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