Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kwa Heri Tanzania! Karibu Tena Marekani!

Kwa Heri Tanzania, Karibu Tena Marekani!
September 23, 2011

            It will be easy to walk away from this place and all of the challenges that accompany life here.  I will not miss the dust or the mud or the lack of electricity and running water.  I want to enjoy a hot shower again, and not have to make do with scoops of water poured over my head while sitting on a cold bathroom floor.   I want to have internet every day and I want to know what is going on in the world.  I am tired of pushing my way onto uncomfortable, overcrowded buses hoping they will make it to where I want to go.  Yes, I love America, and I want to go home.  However, I know that leaving Tanzania will not be easy.  Although I am eager to experience life in a developed country once more, I cannot begin to describe how I feel about leaving behind those whom I have come to love: especially those who love me for who I am and not just for what I can offer them.

            My first parting was with Yuda, and it was the most difficult of all.  I will always remember the day I first met him; he was a scruffy, lonely little boy surprised to see a “mzungu” at his home.  Now he smiles a lot, he seems more confident, and he has hope for his future.  I have found him a place to stay for school holidays with an older couple that I met at church.  The Leopolds are kind and compassionate.  They will be good to Yuda; however, why did my heart hurt so much as he sobbed in my arms when I said good-bye?  Is it possible that I had truly become his mother?  I must admit that I cried too, because somehow I know that this African child has become my son.

            I have said good-bye to many students over the years, and I may have felt a bit of regret at the loss of the relationships for a short time.  However, I did not feel too bad, because I knew that almost all of them would be moving on to something better.  That is not the case with my students in Tanzania.  When I walked into the form 6 classroom for the last time, the students all stood to greet me.  I was overwhelmed with emotion as I noticed their tears.  How could I leave them?  Would they be able to maintain their confidence or would they lose their hope after I was gone?  I could sense their fear.  Oh God, please be with them and give them peace!  I have only taught form 5 for one term, but I have grown quite fond of them too.  Who will encourage them now?  Who will teach them how to teach themselves?  Who will see that every student has occasional access to a book?  The students wanted to thank me for all I had done for them, but they were embarrassed because all they could give me was a song.  It was a beautiful song, a song about angels.  To me it was worth more than anything money could buy.

            When I am stressed, I tend to turn inward for strength.  I prefer to be alone to work through my problems; however, Fidesta and Aggie wanted to escort me all the way to the airport in Dar.  I told them that it would be painful, but they insisted on coming.  Victoria and Maria traveled from Morogoro.  Aggie’s brother and Mr. Leopold’s daughter also came.  I said farewell to Fidesta’s uncle and brother and many others by phone.  Aggie and Fidesta sang me our favorite song one last time (Nimepata Yesu moyoni wangu: I have got Jesus in my heart).  Maria traced the bones in my hand with her finger and seemed to be trying to memorize its color.  Victoria gave me a long letter thanking me for all I had done and reaffirming her belief that all that had transpired over the last two years had, indeed, been done by the grace of God.  Aggie begged me not to forget them.  I assured her that that would not be possible.  Hearts broke; tears flowed, we said good-bye.  I entered the airport alone.

            Kwa heri Tanzania! (Farewell Tanzania).  Kwa herini my friends!  Thank you all for your support and pray without ceasing; that is, live each day of your life as if it were a prayer to God.    


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