Our team of 11 from Grace Fellowship returned home yesterday evening from 11 days of travelling together to visit a family we help support in Tanzania. We had an amazing time learning about Tanzania and the work that Aaron and Stephanie and their team are doing. They are building deep relationships and discipling leaders and using a tool called Discovery Bible Study that helps people discover for themselves what Scripture says about God and about humanity and about how we should live. On our last day in Tanzania I wrote this reflection and shared it with the team for our morning devotions.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; ~Psalm 24:1
I’ve been reflecting on God’s extravagant creativity. Here are just some of the things we saw and experienced in Tanzania.
- We ate food like mshkaki, chapatti, and chips mayai.
- We drank Stoney Tangawizi and mango, papaya, and watermelon juices.
- We made friends with people who don’t look or talk like us.
- We danced and played and sang with children who have different abilities and different resources than us.
- We purchased live chickens!
- We rode in a Bajaj!
- We were received into Bibi Single’s home with both great humility and great joy.
- We celebrated Paulo’s birthday and he fed us birthday cake.
- We observed the marine life of the Indian Ocean at low tide.
- We learned a Swahili worship song.
- We built some tables.
- We dyed some scarves.
- We made blocks for children to play with.
- We brightened a porch as a resting place for weary Kingdom workers.
- We learned about airdrop!
- We saw seven people baptized.
- We watched green coffee beans turn into roasted ones and then into wonderful brewed coffee.
- We ate Ethiopian food with our hands. (Both of them!)
- We learned a few Swahili words that mean something very different in English!
- We learned a little about Maasai culture and tradition and drank milk from a gourd with our Maasai friends.
- We saw zebras and giraffes and impalas and hippos and baboons and wildebeests and warthogs and elans and elephants and lions and the most beautiful birds.
What an amazing trip we had experiencing the marvelous creativity of our God! I used the Discovery Bible Study questions to reflect on these experiences.
- What does this tell us about God?
- What does it tell us about humanity?
- How will I put it into practice?
One thing it tells me about God is that God delights in diversity. God didn’t just make one kind of fish or bird or livestock or wild animal. God made a diverse variety. And God didn’t just make one kind of person either.
I have a hunch that, when God looks over creation, it’s the things that make each creature (humans included) unique that bring God the most delight.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to want to blend in. I try to camouflage those things that could make me stand out and I compare myself to other people to figure out how I measure up or what I need to change in order to fit in better. I don’t really want to be considered “unique.”
But! If what makes me unique is what delights God? Then I really want to do that! Even if it doesn’t fit the mold that our society or culture or tradition have defined. Scripture tells us that God is revealed in creation and I believe that we most truly reflect the character of God in the parts of us that are uniquely created.
So one thing I want to take from this trip is to let all of us off the comparison hook. To learn how each of us, myself included, is uniquely created and to find ways to reflect that into the world in order to magnify the image of God that each of us bear.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. ~Psalm 139:14