Building Trust pt. 2

Then, just when I thought I would be sleeping under some tree for the night, He sent me…

Four English speaking women, arranged in a beautiful constellation walking towards me. They were guiding stars to my way home.

I quickly approached them as if they were the only hint of light on the island, which at that moment it felt like they were. I told them that I was trying to find the dala dala station, and they kindly directed me to where it was. Just before I was about to leave, one of the girls asked if I knew the name of my stop. Well, I didn’t. I knew the name of the dala dala I needed, Fuoni, but that’s about it. She warned me that it would be extremely difficult to notice the stop in the dark; everything looks the same at night. But noticing my stop was the least of my worries, right then I just needed to find the dala dalas.

I thanked the girls and went on my way.

As I walked to the dala dala station cat-calls fired at me like gun-shots, each one burrowing deep under my skin. I’m not sure how to articulate how scary it is to be alone and female walking in the middle of the night, especially when you don’t know the language.  Everything within me wanted to run full-speed ahead to the station, but I walked slowly and bowed my head in prayer.

After a few petrifying minutes, I made it to the dala dala stop. However, to my demise, there were no dala dalas out. Not one. I continued to walk up the street thinking that maybe there would be one tucked away somewhere. I found nothing but an open food cart. I walked over to the woman purchasing food and asked, in my broken Swahili, for help. Turns out one of the guys knew English! He directed me to the dala dala stop, which is nice, but it was the one I just came from… the one with no dala dalas. I thanked him and started walking back there anyway.

I began walking and noticed two lights in the distance, with every step it became evident that I was walking toward a dala dala! But it wasn’t just any dala dala…

I squinted until I saw it, shining in white-chipped paint: FUONI.

It was the dala dala I specifically needed.

A miracle! I hopped on and tried to look as local as I could, not saying a word. They would certainly spot me out if I opened my mouth. To no surprise, I was the only woman on board, probably the only woman outside this late. As soon as we took off I remembered the girl’s warning to me. I prayed for “divine-eyes” to see my stop, and meant it.

Every shop, every tree looked identical to the last. But the Father did answer my prayer and I recognized my stop. I pulled the duck tape off of my mouth, tapped the man in front of me, and yelled “hapa! hapa!” (here, here).

The adventure, if you want to call it that, didn’t end when I got off the dala dala. I still had a ways to walk… in the dark.

To keep this post a little short, I’ll just let you know that I literally prayed in the Spirit all of the way to the house, and kicked myself for not memorizing enough of Psalm 91.


That night I really had to trust the Lord and his promise that he would protect me. Actually, I learned a lot about trust in Zanzibar.

Unfortunately, trust has been hard being back in the States. It’s different here: I have money, language ability, street lights. It’s tempting not to put trust back in myself, especially when it comes to making decisions for the future.

Sometimes I feel like I’m still alone, in the dark, searching for that dala dala.

But I know what the Lord starts He is faithful to finish. He’s not done building trust between us.  And every time I trust Him with something new I believe the Father is cheering, “Hapa! Hapa!

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Building Trust pt. 1

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I had to trust God A LOT in Zanzibar, and for many reasons, but today I will only give you one: that He would get me to my destination safely. 

It was the weekend and the Zanzibar International Film Festival just began so I decided to go by myself. It was quite an experience and the blog post for that will be coming soon! Anyway, the event lasted until late in the night. Around 11:30PM is when the movie ended, but I was really eager to stick around longer for the music festival portion. So, I waited… and waited… and waited. But of course this is Africa and time is optional, not mandatory.

I ended waiting until 11:50PM (the music was supposed to start exactly when the movie ended). Finally, it dawned on me that maybe I should ask when the last dala dala (bus) would be leaving. I leaned into the older gentleman beside me and in broken Swahili managed to wiggle out “Shikamoo, Unasema Kiingereza? (Hello, do you speak English).” Thank goodness he did. I asked about the dala dala and he told me that the last one leaves at 12:00. By this time it was 11:55!

The dala dala is not the luxury experience of an NYC taxi, it does not stop in front of you, I had to walk to it. And it was not around the corner.

I politely thanked the older gentleman and dashed out of the festival like a seasoned Olympian, but it didn’t matter how fast I moved because I had no idea how to find the dala dala station. When I came to the festival the sun was still out, by this time the night had already claimed every familiar road and landmark as its own. I was navigating through a prayer. Literally. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to direct my steps.

For a while it seemed like I was headed the right way… until I noticed that I was not.

I had zero clue where I was.
I had bad cell phone reception.
I had no clue as to what my stop was even called, thus taking a taxi was pointless.
I had no one with me as a woman in a male-dominant society.

Then, just when I thought I would be sleeping under some tree for the night He reminded me that He was there and sent me…

*Hey! This story doesn’t end here. Trust me. I know how hard it is to maintain focus on such long blog posts, so I decided to break this story into two parts. Be on the look to see exactly what I mean by “building trust.”

Butterflies & Other Freedoms

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Butterflies were the best gifts Zanzibar gave me. Out of all of the touristy things I did, visiting the butterfly garden was by far my favorite experience.

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I was completely entranced by the wonder that was around me. Vibrant blues and alive yellows dancing about to heaven’s melodies. My body twirled to the rhythm of their wings beating against the thick, salty air: no barrier could to stop them from soaring the curve of each spirited emerald leaf. Being there was like breathing for the first time.

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I realize now why I loved the butterflies so much… they were free.

When most days felt like a prison, the butterfly garden was a safe place to spread my wings and fly.

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Without even knowing it, the people of Zanzibar are tending to a small temple, in between giant trees and underneath a scoring sun, where sacred, silent prayers of freedom ride on tiny, fragile butterfly wings.

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Amen.

Reverse Culture Shock

The stages of reverse culture shock as according to studentsabroad.com:

  1. Disengagement
  2. Initial euphoria
  3. Irritability and hostility
  4. Readjustment and adaptation

I keep playing hopscotch on stages 1, 2, and 3. I feel overwhelmed, alienated, but at the same time I can’t stand to be alone. Other days I feel fantastic.

It’s an odd entity hovering around me 24/7. I’ve experienced this when I went overseas before, but this is by far the most extreme case. Please, don’t be alarmed. I love traveling; it’s challenges can never outweigh its blessings.

I wouldn’t trade reverse culture shock for anything in the world, because the memories, experiences, and lessons that have come along with it are incomparable.

I have no idea why I’m even writing this post right now. All of this is just word vomit.

Friends, I just wanted to let you know that I’m having a hard time readjusting. Please keep me in your prayers.

I’m still trying to find the sweet spot of not abandoning the culture I was with, while still appreciating the culture I’m a part of now.

With love,
Rose

Walking

I actually wanted to post something completely different, but I felt that I should write this one today. Perhaps someone needs to hear it. Or, perhaps I just needed to write it.

In Zanzibar I went to a house church. I can prattle on and on about how amazing this experience was, but today I’m going to talk about one thing I learned: prophesying… and walking.

The tiny community I was with were completely open to hear what the Father wanted to say; they called things out of me in a few weeks what others couldn’t see until a few months.

I found this encouraging and wanted to start doing the same thing for others. When I came back to the States I found myself walking in boldness to share with others what the Lord wanted to tell them. It felt like Jesus and I were a team, and it was great to see how much he wanted to speak to his children. Yes, even to those who may hate him.

Unfortunately, my walk has become clumsy–tripping over fears and stumbling around onlookers–now that I’m back on campus. Yesterday, I passed up the opportunity to pray for this guy’s back, even though I knew I was supposed to. I attend a Christian university so it’s not like I have persecution to face, instead I fear a monster far more insidious–judgement.

Judgement is the thick, invisible sludge that traps its victims starting with the feet and gradually works its way up until its prey is completely devoured.

I’m afraid I will be judged for being too “spiritual” (whatever the heck that means). Why do I fear this? Because I have been the one to cast judgement on others for being too “bold” with their faith. Honestly, I was just an insecure, jealous brat. I can still be at times. But I’m learning to stop comparing myself with others.

My walk of faith is my walk of faith, and I should be overjoyed that others are finding fulfillment in their walk with Christ.

This scripture encouraged me to write this post today:

Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”

The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.” Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. -John 5:1-9

Blind, crippled, paralyzed–which one are you?

Are you too blind to see that the Father has good plans for you, despite who you are?
Are you too crippled by past hurts or mistakes?
Or are you like me, too paralyzed with fear (or doubts) to get up and move?

The Father is not asking us or begging us, he’s commanding us to get up and walk because he can’t stand to see his children sick and motionless.

This has been a very different blog from the last two, I guess I just needed to get that off of my chest. Thanks for listening. More on Zanzibar coming soon!

Elephant in the Room

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“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” -Susan Sontag

I thought this was the perfect journal to take to Tanzania with me considering the irony that Africa was never on my list.

Africa was the giant, awkward elephant on the map that everyone felt, but I never wanted to acknowledge. She’s intimidating. All of her stories of beauty crumbled in the presence of her other stories: disease, witchcraft, possessions. Honestly, Africa only made me think of one thing–darkness.

I didn’t feel ready to come face-to-face with those realities. I’m still scared of bumps in the night. When the time came for me to choose a place for my internship I searched all over South America, Asia, and considered staying stateside, anywhere but Africa. But you can’t run away from your fears, you always end up running right into them.

I ran and hit hard into Tanzania, even harder into Zanzibar.

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Zanzibar is not the Africa most people picture. Explaining Zanzibar will take a whole other blog post. It feels like an entirely different world. A world I had to learn fight to love. I took many punches and left with bruises, but I don’t think I lost the fight. If I had lost I would’ve said screw Zanzibar as I boarded onto my plane back home, but instead of cursing her under my breath, I wept.

I wept for my students.

I wept for my friends I met in town.

I wept for the land that has so little workers.

To be frank, I don’t know how to end this post. I can keep rambling on and on of how I didn’t choose Africa and it’s because I’m infinitely thankful that it chose me.

Africa ended up staying true to it’s stories: I left with an odd disease of weeping for a people I used to consider dangerous; despite the frustration I had with the education I system I continued to go to class and teach to the best of my ability as if I was under witchcraft; and now my once dark view of Africa has been possessed into seeing its light. Overall, she is beautiful, but my heart and perspective had to change to see it.

Zanzibar is the elephant in the room and she’s definitely worth acknowledging. 

Goodbye Tanzania: Leaving with Sandy Toes

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Hello Friends!

I’ll be starting a new series called Goodbye Tanzania: Leaving with Sandy Toes. Strange title, I know, but there’s a purpose behind it. Being in Tanzania this summer literally and figuratively left me with sandy toes.

Think of a beautiful beach day, you’re running free, happy, soaking up the sun, everything is pleasant until you make your way to the car and have to dust off all of the sand nestling between your toes. It’s insufferable! No matter how much you rinse, shake, dust, there will always be a few grains on their way home with you. It’s an uncomfortable reminder of the time you just spent at the beach.

Being back in the States kind of feels like my whole body is covered in sand. I’m trying to dust myself off, but maybe some things are supposed to stay with me… as an uncomfortable reminder of my time in Tanzania.

It’s annoying to drag the tiny grains in your home, but why forget the experience? Yes, there were times where I felt like I was drowning, but it would be foolish to confuse the crashing of waves as a means to hurt me.

They were trying to bring me deeper. And the difference between diving and drowning is peace.

This series is my attempt to finally hold peace close to my chest and dive deeper than I’ve ever been.

Amani