Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 4 Tanzania- "Chickens & Elvis" (Tanzania)

Today I met Elvis in Africa! Yes, Elvis is his real name. Before I arrived at the Niibili Village, I read through my notes briefing me on who we were expecting to meet. I immediately chuckled when I saw that "Elvis" was the name of the youngest son. We all immediately started singing Elvis songs as we bumped along the dirt roads in this remote area of Tanzania.
When we arrived at the Massawe home, it was actually Elvis who was the first to greet me! This little 12-year-old boy walked up to me with a big smile and in clear English said, "Welcome!" He was the only one in his family to speak English so I used Elvis to help me interpret our intial greetings. But from that first moment on, Elvis and I were definitely new friends.

I had a pack of crayons in my backpack so I sat down with Elvis to talk about Christmas. I drew a traditional Christmas tree and colored in the ornaments. Then I asked him how his family celebrates Christmas in Tanzania. He drew me a picture of a chicken and said his family enjoys a chicken meal together on Christmas Day.

Ironic because today I was on a mission to do a story about chickens. Several years ago, World Vision gave the Massawe family several chickens to help provide food for their family. Yet, the Massawes say they've used the chickens to not only keep their kids from starving but to actually send them all to school. In fact, by selling any surplus eggs or additional chickens they breed, they've been able to afford to send their youngest, Elvis, to a 'good' school where he learned to speak English.

Today, Elvis not only has big dreams for himself (he wants to be a football player...or soccer for us in the U.S.) but his parents say they think he'll be able to get a better job when he grows up. He's also transforming his community by teaching his neighbors and relatives English.

There were several extremely touching moments for me today...on Day 4 of our Spirit of Christmas tour. 1st- Elvis' makeshift soccerball that he'd made of plastic bags and string. 2nd- his parents expressions as they explained to me in Swahili how proud they were to be able to send Elvis to a 'good' school. 3rd- Elvis' and I sat down read the story of Jesus' birth and Christmas. In flawless English, he read from Luke 2.

But at the end of the day, one of my favorite moments was when Elvis came up to me and said "This is for you!" He handed me a rectangular piece of cardboard with a colorful flowery tree and the words Merry Christmas at the bottom. I don't think I'll ever be able to celebrate Christmas now without thinking about my new friend Elvis.

No comments: