Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today We Danced

Today we danced.

And by dance, I totally mean like we went to a Middle School Dance. (Thanks Darcy for this analogy.) Let me explain.
A middle school dance consists of boys and girls. And the few unlucky chaperones that traded lunch duty for a month in exchange for a night full of raging hormones and awkwardness. At the beginning of the dance, boy and girls are separated. They stand on opposite sides of the gym just looking at each other. They wonder about the clothes the other is wearing. They wonder about the people that they came with. They wonder about what it would be like if they could actually muster up the courage to talk to each other. But then it happens. Some brave boy with pimples and braces finds within himself the courage to ask the cutest girl there to dance. And dance they do. Before too long, the whole gym is moving and shaking; much to the discomfort of the unlucky chaperones. But nonetheless, fun is had by all. This carrying on continues through the night until sadly time has come to an end. Everyone files out, sad, but happy that they came, thrilled with the outcome of the night.

So today we went to a dance. In a Masaai village.

After an hour and a half of driving, we arrived to the village. This was not an easy drive. We were on Primary Roads: the ones that are paved with speed bumps every hundred feet. Secondary Roads: Dirt roads with pot holes and ditches to climb through the size of Texas. And Tertiary Roads: Not really a road but more just 4 wheeling through the bush of Africa. Somehow, this crazy elderly gentlemen we lovingly call Pastor Hafferman just drives and somehow ends up where he needs to be. And people are there, too. That’s luck if I’ve ever seen it!

Anyway, we get to this random spot in the middle of the bush and people are gathered. Begin awkward middle school dance: NOW.

They looked at us. We looked at them. We wondered about their clothes. They wondered about ours. They sang for us. We… squawked… for them. An interesting first exchange where we mostly just felt like fools and they confirmed it as the pointed and laughed. However, we had a little bit of magic up our sleeves. I like to call this magic: BUBBLES, SOCCER BALLS, and PLAYDOUGH. Ah yes. A little bit of American lovin’ right there in Tanzania. We were totally in after that point. Like celebrities. You should have seen Pastor Jim. Total rock star! We played with the kids, laughed with the young women, and joked with the elders. It was amazing. We were no longer boys and girls standing alongside the walls of our middle school gym. We were dancing!

As we shared our toys with them, we connected. We were able to meet them on a common level and no longer were we different. We were one. There together. To worship. To learn from each other.

In addition to this, the men (because the women were not needed) staked out the perimeter for the foundation of a new church. Using little, but accomplishing much, our men successfully squared out the spot where a new church will be built. Currently there is a VERY small thatched roofed building that serves as their church. I’d say only 1/3 of the people in this congregation can actually fit into the church and the lack of windows makes it a very dark place to worship. Because of this, today we worshiped under trees. Complete with chickens and dogs; because apparently Wednesday is, “Bring your chicken to worship!” day. To say that chickens at worship are distracting would be an understatement. (And you thought the 10:30 service was bad!)
At the close of the worship service, we had an auction to help raise funds for this congregation. This is where the chickens really got theirs! They were auctioned off, as well as some soap and Masaai jewelry. We were a little lost with this whole process, but feel ready for our next service which will be on Friday. Soon we will be bidding machines!

To conclude our time there, we were served an authentic (clearly, were in the middle of the bush Tanzania!) meal. It consisted of rice, potatoes, and a creamy tomato sauce. Not all of us got forks. So our hands were a very useful substitute. Ask Daniel Meyers and he might tell you that he’s never using utensils again. Sorry Julie, we’re creating a monster!

But back to the dance…

We reached the point where we had become friends. Where we were dancing our little hearts out. But it was time to go home- Mostly because if we didn’t leave then, we ran the risk of not making it home because it was getting dark quickly and the bush is hard enough to navigate in the light, let alone the dark. So we said our goodbyes, took a few more pictures, and packed ourselves, along with the two chickens purchased at the auction, into the bus/van/truck thing to make our way back to the seminary.

So today we danced. We looked at each other awkwardly and wondered. We took a chance and made a move, joined together, and then were forced to say goodbye too soon. All we were missing were the unlucky chaperones. Though I think Pastor Hafferman is a lovely substitute!

In any case, we arrived home without incident and have now settled in for the night. Life is good here in Tanzania. Tomorrow we venture out to raising the roof on the church that Redeemer paid for!

Can I get a, ‘Woot Woot!?’

Tutaonana Badaye!


  1. Sounds like an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing it with us. Can't wait to see pictures!!

    God is good.