I am still processing my 18 day trip to East Africa, and I probably will be for several weeks or months. First off, let me say it was a blessing.......a HUGE blessing, in lots of ways. You can't spend that much time with Monte Cox, Steve Smith, the Rackleys, Janice Bingham, and those wonderful Harding students and NOT be blessed! The students blew me away, with their loving spirits and willingness to do anything that needed to be done without complaining. They impacted the lives of EVERYBODY they came into contact with, I promise you that. Harding could not have been represented any better by any one person or group. Those kids will always be my family, and I love each and every one of them.
Two things jump out as I reflect on the trip: A) The unbelievable BEAUTY of East Africa, both the landscapes and animals. Both are breath-taking, and I hope to post some pictures that Steve took on some later posts. He only took 500 pics! :) The wildlife is every thing you have ever seen or heard, and I wish we would have had more time to take it all in. The Serengeti and Nogorongoro Crater are the two places in Tanzania where we saw all the animals. I guess the most incredible thing we witnessed was a baboon chasing a leopard. You'd think it would be the other way around, but we sat there and watched the whole event unfold. This was no baby leopard either. The tea plantations amongst the rolling green hills of Kenya are something you don't hear enough about. Marrianne school is located right in the middle of this area. We only saw the Rift Valley at night with the full moon shining down on it, so I want to see it in the day-light some time. Again, East Africa is beautiful.........from the people, to the animals, to the landscape.
B) The POVERTY. Until you go to a third world country (especially in Africa), you don't realize how rich we are, and how poor most of the world is. It's very humbling. This is the part that is going to have me laying awake at night looking at the ceiling. The poorest people in our neighborhoods in America would be rich in Africa. Running water and electricity are a LUXURY that VERY few people in Kenya or Tanzania have. And even if you do have running water, it's contaminated. So, the everyday things you and I take for granted, East Africans can only dream about. Remember that when you turn on your light switch tonight, or take a hot shower or bath. Both are a luxury. I haven't even touched on malaria, education, transportation, or many other aspects of the rampant poverty. It's very depressing to discuss it for any length of time. But I think you get the picture. Life is hard in third world countries.....extremely hard. Be thankful each day for the blessings we have.
I will close by saying that even with all the poverty, most of the people I met were happy and positive! Of course, most of the people I met were Christians. They know that this life is NOT what it's all about, and we could learn a thing or two from them in that regard. They for sure are not tempted to lay up treasures on Earth! They were a blessing to me, and I hated leaving them when it came time to leave. They love their brothers and sisters here in the States, and pray for you daily. Do you have a prayer for them?