Monday, April 22, 2013

What God is Teaching Me: How To Go With The Flow and Love In The Moment

Very often here the days don’t go as planned. Today was case-in-point.

My plans for today included:

o   hymnal translation
o   errands around Mwadui
o   take our night guard, Peter, to pick up his wife and new baby at Kolandoto Hospital
o   get the car to the shop to have our wheel repaired after it was punctured yesterday
o   make some calls regarding an entrepreneurship seminar for villages around Maganzo
o   prepare for the class I am teaching on Friday
o   go to choir

My plans changed when:

Omary was sick, so we went to the doctor and waited 2.5 hours.

Eric called me to let me know he had misunderstood the time for picking up Peter, and we discussed a new timeline for the day.

The pharmacist was at tea, so we had to come back for the medicine.

I had to make an unexpected stop by the school, because at the hospital, the accountant asked me to drop off the bill for some other students.

I returned home with two kids because their parents, staff members at the school, wanted me to drop the kids off at home (very near ours).

The phone calls were impossible because Airtel, our phone network, was down.

When I took Peter to pick up his wife and baby, I discovered that they don’t live in Mwadui, but rather in a nearby village. Instead of the careful, tarmac-driving I was expecting to do with our spare tire, I ended up driving cross-country. I am not talking about “the roads were so bad, that it felt like no road.” I’m talking about literally driving over grass and avoiding rocks. Those who know me well know that I was not blessed with a natural propensity towards driving. This excursion was WAY out of my comfort zone.

About the time that I felt like I should let Eric know what was going on (if Airtel was working again), I discovered that I had accidentally left my phone at home. I had no way to communicate with my partner in life.

After making a pit-stop to pick up a friend of Peter’s family, we finally made it to Peter’s house. Knowing that I needed to get back, Peter decided to take a “short cut” to Mwadui’s back gate. I, however, was completely unaware of this plan. Peter speaks no English, and somehow the information got lost in the language barrier.

After more off-roading and minimal-roading, we arrived at the back gate. Even after we found the guy with the keys, we discovered that one of the locks was broken. The gate could not be opened.

We started driving the road around Mwadui, which was a treacherous, mud-covered mess. We got stuck, twice. The first time we managed to get out with just a little maneuvering, but the second time we were really and truly stuck. Naturally, it was the last big mud puddle before the front gate.

I found out that Peter had the number to Gasper, the school’s driver, so we asked him to come out and help. Twenty-five minutes later the car was out, but not without added damage. Something had been knocked loose and was dragging on the ground. Gasper fixed it enough to be able to drive it to the shop.

I would like to say that I was gracious and loving throughout this whole ordeal, but by the end of it, I struggled to keep back the frustrated tears. It was all I could do not to take my frustration out on those around me, and accept Peter’s thanks for my help.

I did get the final thing on my list accomplished, but only because Eric was able to borrow the school’s truck to drive me to choir. Our vehicle was still with Gasper at the shop. Some good news out of all this was that our tire repair and whatever other repair they made only cost us $6. Sometimes Tanzanian prices are a beautiful thing.


This is an extreme example, but the changing of plans is a common occurrence here in Tanzania. Changing of plans is also common in the U.S. I think the difference is that Tanzanians expect it and handle it beautifully. I do not. According the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am a J, which means that I like to have order and structure in life. I can handle a lot if I know what to expect, if I am “emotionally prepared” for it. However, there are times when you can’t prepare in advance. I continue to pray that as I acculturate, my “P side” (flexibility) will flourish, and I will be able to be more like my Tanzanian friends. I want to be emotionally present and loving at times when things simply don’t go as planned.