Writer’s block: when the words won’t come. That’s not my problem. I can think of words, plenty of words. Lots and lots of bottled-up words. My struggle is how to convey the emotions behind the words. How do I connect the words with the myriad of feelings? There is a tug of war between my head and my heart. Facts vs. Feelings. To share, deeply share, will bring tears. A flood, perhaps. What will happen if I remove my finger from the dike? Will the tears ever stop?
My husband and the Compassion Team spent a week climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. My week was spent on the dusty back roads and in the modest homes of Tanzanian families. What I witnessed was too hard, too unfair, too sad, too lovely, too everything. At times, it seemed more challenging than climbing to 19,500 feet. The Team had to struggle for each breath at the high altitude. On ground level, I was struggling to make sense of everything around me; leaving me breathless at times.
To remain silent serves no justice and ignores the significance of my new friendships and my unique experiences. I want to tell their stories with dignity and love. Yet, I fear my one-dimensional words will sound empty, flat, vanilla, small, and lifeless. Have you ever experienced something so beautiful, so unique, so precious, so life-changing that mere words were totally inadequate? I hope you have or will someday. Maybe my responsibility is to humbly tell you whom I met and how they changed me. Perhaps it will cause you to pause and think.
On this Father’s Day, I will begin with Samuel. I met Samuel at a Compassion Center in Tanzania. A tall, lanky young man dressed in worn black pants, white shirt and black jacket. Samuel spent the afternoon demonstrating the welding, woodworking, and sewing skills he had perfected at the Center. Then I had the privilege to visit Samuel’s home.
Samuel is of the Maasai tribe and he is the man of the house. His parents died when he was young. He currently lives with his very ill grandmother in their mud-dung hut in a small Maasai village on the outskirts of town. Samuel would be considered a ‘modern’ Maasai because he lives near a town and is not nomadic.
To get to the small village, we drove part of the way and walked the rest. I was invited into the dark and smokey home. I humbly offered a prayer through translation for the grandmother’s broken leg and infected eyes. Outside, I found Samuel near his chicken coop. He is also an entrepreneur; raising a flock of chickens. I asked my guide if he would translate a message to Samuel. I sensed the heaviness on this young man’s shoulders. He has to be the man of the house and care for his sick grandmother. When she dies, then what? What does his future hold?
I put my hand on his shoulder and I offered encouragement as best I could; relying on God to put His words in my empty mouth. I spoke of God’s Promises, to never leave him nor forsake him. I praised him for his skills and his work ethic. I told him it was OK to be scared. I told him how proud I am of him and all that he is doing as the man of the house. I told him he is loved.
I gave Samuel a hug and then I left. This is where it doesn’t seem right. This is the part that really messes with my heart and my head. Tug of war. Is that it? Isn’t there more I can do or should do? How do I process this experience? How do I comprehend what I just witnessed in this village?
My heart takes a picture. I walk away but Samuel stays in my heart and my prayers. God understands my facts vs. feelings tug of war. He gets me and all my many struggles.
Samuel means “God has heard”. I must trust that Almighty God has heard. He has heard and He cares and He loves Samuel so very much.
Let’s Walk Worthy!