Thursday, June 10, 2010

Three Things

I don’t know much but I do know that nothing in Africa ever goes as it is planned. The minute you try to have a plan, it floats away into the beautiful African horizon. So try to plan, I dare you. The world will only end up laughing at you. I promise.

Case in Point:

1. Today we went to a village. To do this, as I have said before, we get into a bus/van/truck thing and drive over what they call, “roads.” Sometimes these roads are smooth. But more often they are bumpy. But regardless of the road conditions we ride in our beloved bus/van/truck thing and then just hope for the best.

This morning we took off from the seminary at around 8:30ish African time. Which means that it actually could have been about 9:15. Not that I’m looking at my watch or anything…

We left, with 10 of us in the b/v/t and the other 3 in Pastor Hafferman’s Range Rover. We had to split the two vehicles up because The Haff (Pronounced ‘The Hoff’) had to go to town to pick up a generator to take to our work site. So the van went ahead with the intention of having the Rover catch up with us soon.

But like I said, NOTHING goes actually as it is planned.

Translation: The Rover took FOREVER to meet up with us. So we had to sit on the side of the road for nearly 45 minutes and just wait for it to show up. During this time our driver decided to make a stop at the bar for a quick beer and smoke and we were left to sit there, with the doors open, as people passed by.

We were like an exhibit at the zoo. The white people were on display, today folks! Some were brave and said hello to us, others just looked at us a little bit shocked and confused, and a few even pointed and laughed. We were a spectacle. And honestly it was just hilarious. All we could do was laugh!

At one point Amber said, “Does anyone have a joke?”

My reply: “Yeah. I got one. A group of while people are sitting in a van on the side of the road in Africa…”

Amber: “How does it end?”

Me: “I’ll tell you in an hour.”

2. When building rafters for a church in Tanzania, make sure that your saws are sharpened and your batteries charged. Because if you don’t, you will end up building only one rafter, even though it will be a solid piece of roof.

In our village today, we were to assemble the rafters for the church that Redeemer built. However, the generator that was supposed to be picked up by The Haff was not present, (hence the 45 minute wait) and the handsaws were more useful for spreading butter. So only one rafter was assembled and a lot of Masaai men learned the wonders of carpentry from Mr. Dave Wylam and Mr. Scott Durscher. At one point, Dave was trying to sharpen the handsaw, and all the men could do was watch in wonder. You know, Jesus was a carpenter… Just saying.

But regardless of completing 1 rafter or all 6, we were all there together, working toward the completion of something for the glory of God. What an amazing thing. Our men were machines. Our women were supportive. What more can you ask for?

3. If you can’t complete your rafters- your other option is to sing. And sing we did! We had a complete ‘Sing Off’ with the local choir. It was like Glee; but without brilliant choreography and witty banter.

Imagine the scene: The “Obama” Choir and the Church Choir. Sitting on benches. Aligned to face each other. They started. We countered. The put us in our place again, we returned with a solid effort. This happened back and forth about 5 times. But somewhere in our shallow repertoire of songs, we pulled out the ‘money maker.’ I like to call this song, “This Little Light of Mine on Rock-n-Roll.” There is booty shaking and hand actions as well as a catchy guitar part. Before we knew it, not only were we dancing fools, but our new Masaai friends were standing and shaking it, too.

It was honestly like something out of a movie. All of a sudden everyone was singing and dancing, the children were flocking from the outskirts, the men were laughing, and even the cattle and goats joined the celebration. When we finished the song, they wanted to sing it again. So we did. Another two times.

So if you can’t complete rafters, you will sing. And it will be good. And you will shake your groove thing with a bunch of Tanzanian women and some lucky men. Oh you will also learn that despite your best efforts, you really only know the first verse of Amazing Grace. Don’t kid yourself.


  1. Where was your list for them to check off?
    I'm just saying.... :)
    Hugs for you all from home.

  2. Hey, as a veteran traveller to Africa, the whole time thing should not surprise you, 1 hour, 3 hours, Africa time, ah, the relaxation of it all. How are the dreams over there? When Jim and I were in Tanz., we had incredible dreams!

  3. Emily, I have been in touch with Karen Erhardt about this mission trip and would like to do a story for the Waverly Newspapers (hopefully Tuesday's paper). I have a bunch of questions I'd like to ask you, so is there a way to better get in contact with you? An e-mail address perhaps? You can contact me at or if you can talk by phone, 319-352-3334. And in case you're wondering, I'm using my editor's profile name on here!
    Chelsie Luhring, Waverly Newspapers, Reporter

  4. Dear goodness, this little light of mine.