Thursday, August 8, 2013

Driving and Other Lessons

I learned how to drive a manual car in Tanzania.  Down a dusty, bumpy, dirt road-- I had to dodge donkeys, trolleys, and Maasai.  That was the easy part, because I knew eventually I would have to drive into town. The other day a few people asked me if I could describe the city of Arusha.  I didn't really know how to answer, could I compare it to other third world countries? How could I describe something that I had never witnessed before going to Tanzania in an easy, understandable way to others? It's just so different.  It definitely has the worst driving I have EVER seen, though.  My first day in Tanzania, my boss said (referring to drivers) to remember that everyone is out to kill you. That's an encouraging thought, yeah?

Well, after a few weeks of driving a manual car and going into town--it became one of my favorite things to do. Driving into town is stressful. You have to be aware of everything. There are so many things to remember at first--lock your doors before arriving into town, don't leave your windows rolled down all the way, if you have a purse put it under the seat, don't leave anything in the car that you would be sad to have taken from you...etc.  All of these things start to become second nature but at first it's overwhelming.  So, that's the hard part, but here's why I came to love it.

At the first stop light the street children come up and wash your windows.  Usually, they are teen boys..sometimes a little younger.  My problem is that I don't speak Swahili (oh how excited I am to eventually talk to these kids fluently!) so I  just say the normal greetings. It's easy to get frustrated with these kids, and I've seen a lot of people get mad at them.  In a way, they are the troublemakers of society.  I see them, however, and think of my brothers (they're troublemakers, too).  So, I try to find a way to bless them without handing them money.  I give them candy occasionally, say hello, and  I always, always smile.  Smiling is important.  I think they would prefer money over a smile, but that doesn't help with a relationship.  These guys need prayer. Lots of prayer.

There's one boy named Emmanuel that always comes up to my car.  He always says hello, washes my window, asks me questions, shakes my hand, once (before I knew his name) he stuck his head into the car and kissed me.  THAT my friends is why I keep my window rolled up at least halfway.  Wasn't expecting it, but oh my goodness, I laughed.  I couldn't help but laugh as one of the other boys ran up to Emmanuel and gave him a little slap on the shoulder for what he did.  Someday, I'm going to ask these boys about their lives.  I want to know why they are washing windows or selling newspapers on the street.  Do they sniff glue? Drink? Do they support their families?  I want to know their stories.

We all have a story.  We all have meaning.  God reminded me of this the other day, and again today.  I have a purpose, Emmanuel has a purpose, YOU have a purpose.  You are meaningful.  You are made to do great things. You are loved.  Not all of us are called to Africa, but we are all called to cherish life and serve others where we are now. I'm excited to go back to Tanzania, and I'm excited to see those boys that wash windows and sell newspapers.  I pray that the Lord will use me in some way to bring them hope.

I'll never feel completely comfortable driving in Tanzania, but because of it, I've made some friends that I will always pray for and think about.

Post a Comment