Tuesday, December 7, 2010

1st Day in Tanzania- "Goats & Rachel" (Tanzania)

"This Monday, we found a great example of what IS the True Spirit of Christmas. We traveled nearly an hour down a bumpy, dirt road to Moshono, Tanzania, a remote area of Africa that World Vision has been serving for nearly 15 years. We had the incredible privilege of meeting the Mollel family who has indirectly benefited from World Vision. Four years ago, their neighbor received a dairy goat from World Vision donors. In this community, when someone receives a World Vision goat, the first dairy goat born as a result, is expected to be given to a neighbor in the community. The Mollels received a kid goat from their neighbor and it has made a huge impact on their family. Not only has the goat provided much needed milk for their family, but they've also been able to sell some of the surplus to help buy basic necessities like medicine. Plus, the goat's manure now helps fertilize their garden and helps them grow better banana trees, edible roots, and sweet sugarcane.
One of the things I learned about World Vision that I didn't expect was the profound ripple effect of a giving one simple gift. The original World Vision goat that was given to a neighbor produced baby kid goats that are now benefititing neighbors throughout Moshono.

The other thing I was stunned by was how incredibly blessed we are in the United States. On this trip, my luggage got stuck in Amsterdam so I'm still working without a change of clothes, toiletries or snacks that I'd packed. I don't even have a good pair of working shoes to tour around...I'm wearing my slip-on black satin shoes (that were easy to slip on/off through security.) Yet, the Mollels barely have enough food for their family. In fact, the contents of my one carry-on bag (laptop, iphone, books, etc) are probably more valuable than their entire annual income. (The average Tanzanian family makes less than $340/year.) It really makes me think twice about complaining about not having my 2nd pair of jeans to put on!

Yet, we saw the True Spirit of Christmas come to life in Rachel Mollel, This wife and mother of 4 was actually a bit standoff-ish when we first arrived. I can't imagine how overwhelmed she must have felt when our cameras and crew suddenly showed up in her front yard trying to ask her a multitude of questions. For nearly two hours, we grilled her husband about the benefits of their World Vision goat and how their family is preparing for Christmas. But it wasn't until we asked her about how our World Vision donors could pray for her that she truly opened up. I think in that moment she realized that despite our extreme life differences and how far apart we live, we are actually one and the same in Christ Jesus our Lord. We may have different prayer requests, different resources and differences wants/desires, but we both trust that God is and will provide for us....no matter who we are. My favorite part of today was when Rachel suddenly put her arm around me in a spontaneous moment...and in broken English...simply said, 'God bless you.' That IS the True Spirit of Christmas!"

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