Yesterday morning Tim and I were walking along the beach. Our bare feet made light footprints in the sand, which had been hardened and smoothed by the receding waves. The morning air was cool and damp. As we walked we watched the glow in the east slowly growing more brilliant and beautiful. It’s not every day that we get to watch a sunrise over the Indian Ocean. The waves crashed rhythmically. A crab skittered into its hole as we walked by. A perfect few moments.
But there was something else other then the awesome sky vying for my attention. The trash. My clean loving soul is horrified at the filth and trash that lines the beach in this city. And, at this moment, my eyes seemed glued to it. An old toothbrush… two waterlogged pampers…soda bottles…broken glass. Ugh. Trash is not pleasant even in a garbage can, much less on a beautiful beach.
I tear my eyes away. There are better things to look at. The sun is now peeking above the clouds on the horizon–a fiery ball of orange turning the clouds into a flaming work of art. The colors tumble and move on the water as if the Creator’s paintbrush is quivering in anticipation of the grand display. We stand still and stare. It seems otherworldly, so beautiful it is.
A lone fisherman’s boat bobs on the waves, a tiny speck on the vast expanse of water. The sun rises in the sky, spilling all its light into this side of the world. The colors fade and the day moves on.
As I read through my scribbled journal pages of this last month, I saw a mixture of sunrises and trash. Glaring at me from the sand are the attitudes I had, how hard it was to serve when I didn’t feel like it. I see the times my children made wrong choices and the angry words from someone we love. It all lays there in disarray much like the trash on the beach. But interspersed throughout the pages are sunrise moments–those times when the Word of God spoke to me, encouragement from a friend, a struggling soul making right choices, kind words, and a friend’s new baby.
And God quietly removes the trash. Job says, “My transgression is sealed up in a bag and thou sewest up my iniquity.” (14:17) David says in Psalms 103, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
I don’t have to look at it again–that heap of trash. I can enjoy the sunrises.
July was an extremely busy month of…so many things. Justin and Tim had two days of SALT leaders meetings with 40 men and a few women from the various SALT groups in the region and just a busy mixture of office, print shop, translation, visitors, relationships, children, and sourdough bread. And now it’s been almost two weeks since we left on a trip to Zanzibar. We needed some time as a family and we wanted to visit the Smith family who is alone for six months while the Kauffmans are on furlough. We drove to Dar with the “Yam.” (which is Kasia’s name for the new mission van.) After parking the van in Dar we ferried to the island. We had a lovely week there visiting the Jazani National forest, a butterfly conservatory, the slave market museum, the fascinating evening food court beside the ocean when all of Zanzibar culture comes out for display. We went to the ocean a few times and one time Tim, the boys, and the teacher guys went out on a boat to see underwater coral and fish. We roamed through a spice garden, learning about black pepper vines, iodine trees, ginger plants, cinnamon trees, and watched a man ‘walk’ up a coconut palm to pick coconuts. Christina and I went out to town for shopping and talk time. And we had good times of fellowship with the Smiths.
Posing with a cement snake.
On the ferry headed to Zanzibar.
At the Butterfly conservatory.
Learning about the slave trade. Zanzibar was the hub of the East African slave market till 1909 when it was finally totally abolished.
Seeing where our common spices come from is so fascinating.
Fun times with the Smith family.
Shark kabobs anyone? What about fried octopus?
We ferried back to Dar on Wednesday expecting to pick up Dave, Jean, and Hannah Brenneman, and Heather Nolt at the airport the next morning. But alas, the day before we found out Tanzania is not allowing visitors unless they hold a negative covid-19 test report. They were not allowed on the flight. So we are currently waiting and are thanking God all their tests came back negative and they are arriving tomorrow morning.
During the three waiting days we were incredibly blessed to find a small guest house set up for traveling missionary families. It is equipped with bikes, legos, games, swings, and picnic tables. Shelves of books and hot showers. A washer and soft beds. We went grocery shopping and have been able to cook our own meals. Tim and I found some incredible books on the shelves which has evoked lots of deep heart communication about marriage and life. So it seems our three days of waiting turned into a blessing that we were not expecting!
Being in the city gives us opportunities to show the children some real supermarkets and restaurants. A few days ago we took them to Subway. I was totally enamored with the clean, fresh decor and atmosphere. (Is America actually like this?)The children stared at the food and had no idea what to do. We explained to the boys that they can choose what they want and the waiters will prepare their sandwiches. We had to explain it twice while they stood there totally unable to function in such a different environment. The waiters were laughing…and we explained it again. “Oh. You mean we get to choose what we want on our sandwiches from all this stuff?” I’m afraid we will have many more such moments with all manner of things next year in the states as they adjust. Yes, they are competent in the Swahili language and culture, not knowing that a part of them lies dormant…too dormant and will have to be unearthed. We will all feel clumsy in more ways then ordering Subway sandwiches.
And now tomorrow we will head west again in our gray yam. To the dusty Southern Highlands and home. We will be able to start school, as our school books are winging their way across the ocean at the moment. Yea!!