We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Keeping Joy Alive: When a House is a Home

I have found myself looking recently at what I lack rather than what I have. Sometimes this is such an easy slippery slope to slide down, and it ends up crushing joy. But I have so much! So many privileges! Yet I start to think of privileges as my "rights" ... my right to rest, to health, to freedom, to a nice house ....  And then I start to think I have a "right" to grumble if I don't have something that I "should" have. For example my "right" to a washing machine when I am tired of wringing sheets and socks ... but then, don't I have a "right" to have someone come and help me?

But what if I see my privileges as gifts instead of rights? Everything I have is a gift. This is the place where joy is kept alive.

This week, we are going to move house. We went around Mwanza looking at houses; this wasn't, by any stretch of the imagination, looking for the house of my dreams, but there was a little part of me that would have loved to be doing exactly that. Find a house with a big shiny bathroom with a bathtub and running water that always runs, a big family kitchen with cupboards that leave things uninhabited by little creatures, a big fridge with more than one shelf, an oven that would fit my baking trays and cook a cake normally, a guesthouse that would comfortably house lots of guests ... you get the idea. I was looking at what I lacked.

There was a story told about a man who found a treasure in a field. That treasure was so valuable that he gave up everything he had in order to buy that field. But it is hard to give things up. Possessions, desires, rights. Is what we would gain worth what we would give up and leave behind? And so we hang on, hold back. Would I really hold back for the sake of a "dream" kitchen, when I could own a great treasure and indeed the whole field? No! Would I hold back for the sake of myself, ...  for my family? The questions get harder. But the gain is always greater.

When we see everything as a gift and not a right, when we lay things down rather than clinging on and holding back, then this is the place where joy is kept alive.

Last night, our good friends Zakayo and Evelyn lost what we would view as their "rights." Their house, their home, was broken into by thieves in the night as they slept. The thieves abused their rights to personal property and privacy as they invaded each room, including where the two young girls lay sleeping, and they stole from them. But while the family lost possessions, they were unharmed, and this is a stark and somber reminder that we have so much to be grateful for, a reminder that things are truly just "things."

Our new house, with all it's quirks and foibles, is a good gift. And soon it will be a home. And as such a place to keep joy alive.

Our new Home
This weekend we were back on that road to Bunda. Kind friends said we should take some time away together and gave a generous gift. So we ended up near the Serengeti, not so very far from Bunda. As we drove on that same road, we thought again of that young boy. We also thought of Tony, a friend of ours in Tanzania who last week survived a serious car accident. Two road accidents, both resulting in deaths. Life is a gift. Eternal life is a great gift. A place keeping joy alive.

There is another house waiting to become a home. I am so excited about the future of this home. The house at the moment is an empty shell, a bare and messy space, a work unfinished. And there are lives at the moment the same. Empty, messy, unfinished. There is no true life for them, no joy alive. But I have been talking with Evelyn (the unfinished house belongs to her and Zakayo) and her dream to reach out to help the many vulnerable women in this city. We are making plans to see this empty house transformed into a home, a place of LIFE, a place where joy is kept alive. Women in poverty, women abused, fighting against HIV/AIDS, in prostitution, women who not only need a safe place to shelter and a livelihood, but need to be given the gift of Life.


A House: a Home in the Making
But this home is not about their rights. We hear all the time about human rights, women's rights and rights to life, rights to this and that. But joy is not kept alive in our rights. Joy is found as we turn to see the gifts we have. So before these women look for their "rights," what if they first saw their gifts? Their joy will be continually crushed if they only look for their rights. But their joy will come alive if they first look for and receive their gifts. The gift of life, the gift of who they are, their value, their individual gifts and abilities, the gift of friendship, of family, the gift of a home where joy is kept alive.

1 comment:

  1. Love it Mongers! Thank you for sharing your Joy with all of us. What a gift this blog is for those of us, who so easily get wrapped into possessions in a material driven world. Thank you. Love from MN. -austin

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