Saturday, January 22, 2011

As you give...

We are about to begin a food distribution to the people in the village of Seela in Tanzania, Africa. We’ve purchased at the Tengeru market 100 kg of beans and 50 kg of rice to supplement the 1,000 kg of maize which has already arrived to help alleviate hunger here.

Despite best efforts and unwavering faith, year after year much of the maize/corn crop fails due to the ongoing drought in this Mt. Meru region. To further exasperate the situation, the economies of supply and demand push food prices beyond the means of those already “living on the edge” – those struggling to survive on an income of less than $1 a day.

We know this distribution is just a “drop in the bucket” of the hunger in this third world country, but it is a start, and we know this food will save lives. And despite the silent apology in my eyes of “I know it is not enough,” there is a palpable appreciation among those who are about to receive this precious gift of food.

The distribution goes on for hours as representatives from each family come forth when called to accept their share of rice, beans and maize. There is a determined patience. When the day is done, and the last spilled grain has been swept from the floor, we at last rest.

Weeks later, I am saying my goodbyes to the people of this Tanzanian village. I love these people as much as if they were my own family. Our goodbyes are bitter sweet. But we all trust and hold the faith that I will be back the same time next year.

During the midst of the goodbyes, I am approached by a small, frail woman who greets me and timidly says, “Zawadi kwa ajili yako” – a gift for you. I recognize the small black plastic bag. It is the same type of bag in which she received beans from the food distribution earlier in the month.

She places the bag in my hands, presses my fingers around it, and gives me a motherly kiss on each of my cheeks.

The bag contains a portion of the beans she and her family received just a few weeks prior. I know I would offend if I insisted she and her young children needed the beans more than I did.

It is a selfless gift. A sacrifice, really.

Yet it is given with genuine love. And it is given with a faithfulness and trust that, “As you give, so you shall receive.”

As I reflect on this gift she has given me, I realize the actual gift is not so much the beans, as the lesson that is learned through her sharing.

“As you give…”

Sometimes Orbitz coupon codes are available for humanitarian travel for those interested in serving in person.

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