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

Friday, 20 May 2016

Losing ... or not!

As is true for many things, the longer you go without doing something, the harder it is to get back to doing it. Writing this blog seems no exception now! But more than that, it’s hard to pick up posts in the middle of such vastly different activity here after such a deeply emotional time gone unmentioned. To sort out my thoughts and process recent events to get words on a screen seems almost impossible! 

The Place that is Home

We are back in the place we call home again. Welcomed home by so many who came round with meals, fruits, bread and eggs and their love and condolences. Often when leaving one “home,” I find it feels like I am leaving or losing everything, saying goodbye to everyone. But as kind friends appeared on our Tanzanian doorstep, we were soon reminded on arriving “home” that we have so much here. And we are so thankful!
Back with good friends! Ester and Vicky from UTSS
Again I was reminded that in the midst of a hard time, it is easy to think of what is lost and forget all that has been given.  And so as we have bumped along a rather rough landing home, I am trying to intentionally (eventually continually) give thanks. I am far from always succeeding. But now taking a day out each week, I am endeavouring!

Singing with the Cockroaches

So when giant cockroaches popped out of every corner and drawer as I attacked the six-week settling of African dust on every surface, I sang joyfully with thanksgiving. Well, I confess, not really! But I was thankful it wasn’t mould! After the car puncture, and as the power cut and the shower broke again, I sang happily with my bucket of cold water. Again, sadly not. But I was thankful for the electrician who came … after his days of prayer (but that’s a good thing – right?) 

The Cow Dung Vandals

And now, albeit a little late, I can honestly give thanks for the bees, this after one of those sagas of epic disasters that I seem to attract like a magnet.  Yes, we lost the bees and the first honey harvest from the hive that crashed out of the tree the other week in Kayenze. And yes, we lost the bees from another hive in Kayenze a week later as a result of cow dung vandalism. Yes, really. Cow dung. Someone actually broke into the hive (occupied by bees) and dumped and smeared cow poo in there. I don’t blame the bees for moving out.
The fallen hive in Kayenze

The Night of the Stinging Bees

And then one terribly memorable evening, as well as losing our second honey harvest at home (which was a particularly great loss given the current national shortage of sugar which is another story), I also lost all my confidence and optimism. As I watched in agonised sympathy Joseph jumping erratically across the property before tearing like a madman out the gate and up the road with stings on his mouth, nose and head, I thought we had lost an entire colony of bees. His face swelled up like a balloon. As that night, our neighbours angrily protested the presence of the hives, I thought we were losing the whole bee project. As the following day they demanded I cook for their child because Mama was now unable to due to sickness they claimed was caused by a bee sting, we knew the real reason was her lack of food and I felt so terribly lost. Indeed, as I handed out anti-histamine, benadryl and ice packs, all I could think about was losing and what was lost.


But really, all was not lost! Yes, there were hurdles to overcome. Yes, we did lose that which we didn’t want to lose. Yes, it did feel like a losing battle. When I lost my optimism that awful night, I wailed that I was not a pessimist but a realist. It was just that things were realistically pessimistic at that moment.  But however I felt at the time, there was reason to be thankful. We still have bees. We will yet get a honey harvest. And after together visiting the demonstration farm at Kisesa and the Kayenze beekeepers and then Tim having a couple of days with the groups in Malya, we tallied up how all the project hives are doing and realised just how much we have to give thanks for. As well as our two colonised hives, all three hives are colonised in Kisesa. Two out of three hives are colonised in Malya. And five hives are colonised in Kayenze. And we have two great groups of beekeepers... and some pretty cool flour-sack bee-suits!
Practicing thankfulness. We all at times face loss or feel we are losing.  We watched in the space of a few short weeks as people lost homes to the huge Fort McMurray fire...  a young child’s life was lost to cancer ... we lost our house tenants in the UK... friends lost a wife and mother to cancer... my Grandad ended up in hospital from a fall, losing so much more of his independence. Another friend in Canada lost so much to a stroke. But as I pray for that friend who has lost things like mobility, communication and the ability to eat, I see the futility of focussing on what is lost. She is determined to find things again and we are celebrating the things she has and is finding. And as we talk through with the girls about “losing” Grandad, we know that Dad is not “lost” (he's in a great place where there is no more loss and no more losing!) and we see all that we have been given through his life. Thankful.

Yes, at times we feel depleted. But by responding with thankfulness it is possible to be depleted but not defeated! For sure, all is not lost!
The peaceful apiary in Malya. Three hives nestled in the trees.

Thankful for the lovely group in Malya
 ... the mamas went ahead and made these awesome full beesuits out of flour sacks!

1 comment:

  1. You are doing amazingly just by keeping going, wishing you better luck with the bees soon.


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