To be honest, I have been a little hesitant to blog because I didn't think I could describe my experiences in a way that would even come close to comparing to our journey in Tanzania... but I just couldn't resist talking about my experience today.
This morning, we attended church at a community about ten minutes from where we are staying. As our "bumblebee" headed down the bumpy road, Laine informed us that today was special because 5 couples were getting married. Our group was really excited-- especially the girls! When we pulled up to where church was, and we were welcomed by people reaching out their hand to greet us with "Karibu", which means "Welcome" in Swahili.
We sat among the Tanzanian people and I was surprised to see that church was very similar to my experience attending mass at Stritch. It was really cool to worship in a similar way even though we are so far from home. After the couples were blessed by the priest and mass ended, some of the women in the congregation began dancing. I remembered the last wedding reception I went to (JulieAnn and Jacob) and suddenly this wedding didn't seem so foreign. The group of Stritch students watched closely... and some of us wanted to join. Laine led some of the group near the ladies drumming. After a few minutes, we slowly started to immerse ourselves among the dancing. Let me just say that the smile that spread across each member of the group is something I will never forget. I stopped for a second and every worry or concern I had about this trip stopped. Seeing Stritch students dance and laugh among the Tanzanians was an incredible experience. We may not speak the same language, we may live on different continents, but in that moment we were united, we were one people.
After the wedding we had the chance to eat at a Tanzanian family's house. Father Tim knew them because he had helped cement the floor to their house in the rainy season. He told us that the family had to us all their clothing to put on the floor of their living room because water was seeping through the floor. They welcomed us into their home and we crowded around their small table. It was refreshing to enjoy an authentic meal with this family.
We then walked to where the children collected water. Although I didn't expect the water to be clear or clean, the hole where they filled their buckets with water was much dirtier than I expected. The water was infested with bees and bugs. I had no idea if they drank this water or if they were able to boil it to drink. It made me think to the work we will be starting tomorrow with the water well and windmill. I felt a struggle between being comforted that we are able to help a small community and upset that there are so many more people that need help.
I talked to Laine to reflect for a minute. It was my initial reaction to feel bad for the family that we ate lunch with because of what Father Tim said. We agreed that they didn't have much, but what they didn't have in material possessions, they made up for in love and care for one another. The bond of each family member was easy to see. Sometimes I get so caught up in material things that I lose track of the things that really matter-- family, relationships, and loving one another. This qualities were prominent in this family. They seemed to function like a unit, they all worked together. The children were hard working and responsible. Maybe the "unlimited opportunity" where we come from doesn't necessarily equate unlimited happiness. This family seemed to have it figured out.
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p.s. I love you family!