Thursday, May 10, 2012

Where the Shepherd provides...

[I'm following the Compassion Bloggers' Tanzania trip this week. Click here if you want to see all the my Tanzania trip posts.]

"The Nester" got to meet her sponsored 15-year-old yesterday. You can read her whole post if you like, but I want to share the second half.

I want to know, specifically, if what she saw adjusts your spiritual vision just a little.

About half way through her very long post, she starts a little journey, and I beg you to read to the end.

Next we got to go to Topiwo’s home.  And this part needs its own series, people and I’m going to do my best to cram it into one long, everwordy post. So grab a coffee, run to the bathroom  and get ready to be astonished…. this is gonna be worth it, as long as I don’t wreck it all up.  I will never forget this as long as I shall live…

And for the record, I’ve always said, you never really know a person until you’ve been in their home or at least I’m saying it starting today.



After four days of walking over urban dirt roads and paths littered with trash, visiting children in concrete homes crammed close together we found ourselves in this pristine, pure, open plain at the foot of some mountains…



Here’s a few seconds of our walk – it’s shaky but you get the idea::





And then we get to his home.



A handmade home.

And it is breathtaking.  He LIVES here. And it’s a simple hut made of stuff of the earth and it is humble and glorious all at the same time.  OH my goodness this child lives in a mud hut!  A real one!



And we meet his aunt (I think?) who he lives with.  Topiwo’s mother died when he was young.  His aunt is absolutely wonderful and we do not speak the same language in words but we do have an interpreter and I can tell by how she speaks and her eyes and her face that she is nothing but maternal and I am in love with her.  And disclaimer: they do not smile when they pose for photos so even though she looks a little stern as soon as she started speaking and the camera was down she came alive.



So Topiwo had a sponsor since 2005 (before our family) but for some reason they cancelled so now we get to be his sponsor.



She talked and talked and told us how Compassion has helped their family over the last seven years, and oh my goodness this is the part where I tried to hold back tears. That area of Tanzania has experienced drought so Compassion has supplied the family with food. Maasai live off the land so they are immediately affected by drought. Even though Topiwo is the one sponsored, Compassion visits the home of all their children (his last home visit was in April) and they assess any needs of the family because they want to make sure that no one goes without food and basic health care.

Because of Compassion, now Topiwo can go to school, have a uniform and a pair of shoes and even get tutoring for his studies.  I ask her what she hopes for Topiwo’s future and she says for him to do well in school and succeed in life. And Compassion gives him that chance.



Meanwhile all the neighbors and family have gathered. There are babies and children and men and women and they all seem to know that Topiwo’s sponsor is here and they want to meet us all and shake our hands and they are so gracious and mild mannered. I am so grateful for the community that Topiwo is surrounded with–there are so many people here that know him and love him!  Such a different feel from the home yesterday.



We went inside the circular mud hut, it had a fire pit in the middle, a damp dirt floor, no windows at all–just a small hole and it’s really, really dark. There were two rooms and you could see thick branches like pillars holding up the structure from the inside and twigs and grass on the roof.  This is where they live.


He tried to look stern but this man was a sweetheart, patting Topiwo on the back from time to time

And we walked outside and you know what? As we were getting ready to leave I didn’t feel sad about where Topiwo lives.  I actually was incredibly happy for him because he is rich with love and community and joy and gracefulness.  Richer than a lot of people that I know.



Now if you have read this far this is where it gets worth it. On the outside of the home Topiwo had painted Psalm 23 and then his name and the names of others who live there.

Topiwo lives in a mud hut.

Do you remember how the 23rd Psalm starts?


Did I happen to mention that Topiwo lives in a mud hut? And that his family lives in Tanzania and didn’t have any food until Compassion stepped in?  This young man quietly declares his faith and I wondered about what message I am sending people when they walk through my front door?  Do I really believe that I have everything I need, or do I immediately launch into declaring what I don’t have and what isn’t good enough as soon as someone walks into my home?

1 comments:

  • Erin | Better Than Doing Laundry says:
    Saturday, May 12, 2012

    I traveled with Compassion International to Quito, Ecuador, about 5 years ago. It was transformative. I love the part where she says, "I didn’t feel sad about where Topiwo lives. I actually was incredibly happy for him because he is rich with love and community and joy and gracefulness. Richer than a lot of people that I know." I came away with the same feeling. They have so little - to me - but they truly have so much. It convicted me to live differently, be wiser with my resources, to give more, and make sure that I am valuing the people around me.

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