Wednesday, May 28, 2008

M&M's and Maasai Land

On Saturday, we drove out to Maasai Land where our base has a clinic and preschool for the Maasai people. The landscape right around Arusha is very lush and green with lots of mountains due to the fact that this is a volcanic area. The mountains here are not at all the graceful rolling hills of the Blue Ridge. Here they just kind of pop up out of the flat terrain like grassy warts on the landscape. But as you head out toward Maasai Land, it all changes very abruptly to this flat barren land that is all shades of gray and brown dotted with the occasional tree or ant hill or hut here and there. It is so dry that when the wind picks up you are quickly covered in a layer of dust that sticks to your skin. On one side, you can see the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro and on the other the slightly smaller Mt. Meru. Zebra and giraffe wander freely across the plains along with herds of cattle being goaded along by the Maasai, whose bright red and blue cloaks are the only color for miles.

We spent most of the time praying over the land and then working to plant trees and clean and do other work on the property. We have built a clinic and preschool there on land given to us by the Maasai. Several came to greet us and thank us for what we are doing there. They arrived bedecked in their usual beads and jewelry. I find it funny that the women's earrings hang from the tops of their ears rather than the bottom ,and the men's ear lobes have huge holes in them so that they drape down low which makes me think of that old kids song "Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro…” yeah…anyways...they wear the coolest shoes made of tires and they are always wrapped in cloaks of deep red or royal blue. They look so dignified when they walk and stand erect with their long slender bodies. Even there, in the midst of such a barren landscape, there is something deeply majestic about them as if they know they are royalty, that they are children of the King.

I often wonder what it must be like to grow up there and know nothing more of the world than herding cattle and living in a hut. Even in my class, I find that things we in America take for granted are completely foreign to my students. The other day, a guest speaker showed a video about how the heavens show the splendor of God. It had pictures of the Hubble telescope, and afterwards I had to try to explain to my students the concept of a telescope up in space orbiting the earth, taking pictures of distant galaxies and sending them to us. They simply couldn't get their minds around that. It was then that it dawned on me that I'm not just teaching these students English. I'm teaching them about the world outside their villages and towns, a world that they may never see or know anything more about and a world to which I may be their only bridge. I find that it calls upon every ounce of creativity in me and all sorts of information and skills I have long since forgotten. I find myself playing the role of science teacher, math teacher, history teacher, actor, athlete, singer and artist all in an effort to reveal to them a little more of this world they are a part of and to help them comprehend a bit more of the greatness of this great God who loves them.

Changing subjects...I just got a package from mom. James, who always gets the mail, tells me how much he loves to bring me a package because it makes me so happy! This particular package had M&M's in it which absolutely made my day. And not just regular M&M's, but Mega M&M's which are even better! I wish you could see me enjoying these and savoring every tiny chocolate morsel. Simply divine!

Today I went to town, which is always exciting. I always look forward to a good meal that's not rice and beans. My friends laugh at me because I always order the same thing no matter where we go, scrambled eggs and chocolate cake. I can't help it, that's what I crave - protein and chocolate!

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