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

Monday, 3 October 2016

Gratia. When Rose said Grace

Looking at this photo I took on Saturday while making beads with the other mamas, I was reminded yet again how often I look at the mess and fail to see the beauty or potential in it!

Bead-making with strips of paper; a few finished beads underneath
God is doing so many good things and all too often I fail to see it because I am looking at the messes! Yes, there are frustrations and bee stings and now bed bug infestations. But there are also joys, friendships and beautiful things!

I am a big fan of sharing food with people. It doesn't have to be fancy food in a perfectly prepared setting. Some of the best food shared for me has been with many bodies crammed in a tiny space, sitting on rice sacks eating simple ugali and beans. It is just about eating. Together.

But I forgot this on Saturday. I was tired. It had been quite a week, full of things like Tim's large swollen, stung foot (still huge!), an intense bunny feeding schedule, busy days out of the house leaving little time for those basic necessities like market shopping, cooking and laundry. Then throw in a bed bug infestation and you get the idea. Feeling behind on what I felt I "needed" to do, I went early in the morning to meet with the Mamas group, secretly almost hoping that the planned lunch together wouldn't work out and I would be home early.
Mama Laurensia starts cooking lunch
The lunch looked unlikely. It wasn't exactly planned well! We did have a full gas burner this time. But we didn't have any cooking pots, wooden spoons or knives and there was no salt. Mamas were very late arriving and those of us there were battling on with another attempt at candle-making. But the women were determined the lunch would work. Someone had even brought some meat to cook with the other vegetables. Despite numerous delays and phone calls, the lunch was finally started as vegetables were cut and meat was boiled. And sometime after 4pm we gathered around the table and shared the food. And then I remembered how very important and significant this was.

With our own workspace, this was the first time we had been able to cook our own food together and sit around a large table to eat together. I realised as Rose said "grace" how much we had to thank God for and how much goodness from Him we had to celebrate! We warmed up our hands to clap three loud, long claps for the work that had been accomplished. Saying grace (the word comes from the Latin word "gratia" meaning "thanks") expresses our gratitude for our food; it acknowledges the loving provision and grace of God and recognizes our dependence on Him. Rose's joyful prayer of thanksgiving for so many things that day was a true reminder of the grace and goodness of God.

While I had been so busy looking at the mess, turning into a frantic, quality-control freak to finish an order of products to sell, these women had found grace and by expressing it, made something more beautiful. I know I still need to be a teeny bit of a quality-control freak if we are going to sell products, but at the same time in the midst of the mess, there is so much grace ... and beauty.

I was reminded of the story in which Jesus, after his death and resurrection, travels to the village of Emmaus with two disciples still mourning his death and frustrated by dashed hopes (Luke 24:13-35). They were so  downcast, not recognizing Jesus, they didn't see the good thing right beside them. When they reached Emmaus, they stopped to share food together. Before they ate the bread, Jesus gave thanks (gratia) and broke the bread and gave it to them. And it was only after that, that the men saw clearly and recognized Jesus.

Sometimes, rather as it was for those disciples, things happen contrary to what we expect, things happen to frustrate our own hopes and plans, and downcast, we fail to see clearly. Maybe we lose sight of Him altogether... which doesn't mean He isn't still walking with us.

Much as it was for those disciples, it was after saying grace (gratia) and sharing food that I regained better vision! I saw the beauty in our dependence on a gracious God. We live in a world subjected to frustration but it is through the grace of God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, that we have a hope that cannot be dashed.

After my questions and doubts last week on how to learn from failures and persevere, here is part of the answer! I started writing this blog a few days ago and already I am forgetting and doubting. Tears in the storm this morning (literal tears and literal rainstorm). With frustrations and difficulties again mounting, this morning we heard that a Kisesa hive lost its roof in the storm. Rather gutted and worried, this meant a rushed trip out there to suit up, climb nervously back on the container, inspect the damage and fix things. Thankfully it actually all went amazingly well and also amazingly, hive and honey are still intact!

But I must remember. It's something easy to remember three times a day and something even better when shared with others. Grace. Gratia. Thankfulness.

On Saturday the candles worked perfectly!
 And the Chamomile Calendula Soap! Thankful!


  1. This is so good Rachel. Perfect actually. thank you sharing again. much love always, Karissa

    1. Thanks, Friend! Much love to you too!

  2. What a great perspective. Thank you. We had a disappointing and frightening weekend in some ways, but your view was really an excellent sermon this morning.

    1. Thanks! I'm sorry about your frightening time and pray you find peace in His grace. Rx


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