jambo sana

July 31, 2007

There was no place I would have rather been than singing and dancing around a vacant church building this afternoon with a small crowd of African children and grown-ups. It was an odd transition to make from the morning job interview; but it was with gusto that I shed my professional attire, gathered my Swahili books and tapes, and headed to the church to bid my friends “Jambo!”
This made the 4th day I have spent as an informal English teacher for one family group out of the Burundi refugees recently placed in this city. The “lessons” are quite impromptu, considering the language barrier, but I’m happy to see that Swahili comes more easily to me than I expected–and, no doubt due to their extreme immersion, the family is learning quickly. So far I’m relying on picture books and cassettes I found at the library, so our days are consisting of attempts at conversation, repeated phrases, words, & numbers, and, of course, singing and dancing.
It was perhaps presumptuous of me to find out where they were staying, show up, and simply start spending each day with them . . . but I could not help myself ☺ The discovery that African refugees had just arrived when I was returning brought to the surface all my emotions and culture shock from the return; it made me realize that even though I was ready to return, and am glad to be home, I did leave a piece of my heart in Africa. And that has left me with a heart for the African people.
I would like to think I have something great to offer, some grand way to help. The truth is, however, that I have been in a rather needy place in life lately, left with no choice but to rely on my dear friends and family for practical support.
But I want to trust that God can use the little I have in the way of time, and a heart, to make some sort of a difference in the lives of those with whom my own life circle intersects.

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