A Thought Collection: Week One in Dar es Salaam

I’ve come to the realization that Jesus’ method of loving others by washing their feet can only be truly appreciated today in certain parts of the world. One evening when I was climbing into bed, never being so aware of the dry and dirty state of my feet, I was reminded of the many references to feet washing there are in the Bible. I was also reminded of a few events where my friends and I had washed each others’ feet, rather with the combined intent of having a Jesus Spa night then out of the necessity of washing away the ground in dirt of trekking along unpaved roads and walking paths for days. I voiced this thought to Brandon hoping to start a conversation comparing the African culture in which we currently live to the historic Judean culture, through which Jesus lived. (However, of course when you consider the consideration of my husband, this conversation never happened because he, taking the hint, immediately went off in search of some soap and a basin.) And so instead of talking, we washed each others’ feet, and there was a bit more purpose in this gesture than I had previously realized.

Sunday evening we went camping with the Shenk Family, McFarlane Family, and two other new HOPAC teachers. We drove for two or three hours, and finally reached the campsite… wait I want to back up and give that two or three hours a bit more attention than half a sentence. We drove for more than two hours, and never left Dar Es Salaam. It is just that big and spread out of a city. Although, when I think about driving from a corner of a northern suburb of Minneapolis to the opposite corner of a southern suburb, without interstates, highways, or more than four paved roads, such a task might take just as long to accomplish in the United States. As I was saying, our campsite took at least two hours to reach, yet was only about 12 to 15 miles down the coast from our homes. We had the whole beach to ourselves and had also just arrived at high tide, how perfect! Once the tents were pitched and swimming costumes were dug out of the layers of packed goods in our vehicles, children and adults alike hit the sandy waves with the attempt of catching the biggest wave right at the appropriate time to body surf back to shore.

Before dinner we were given buckets of water to wash off the salt and sand. The children were entertained until bedtime with the pursuit of chasing and catching crabs while the adults settled in around the fire craning their necks upward to see evidence of an anticipated meteor shower. During lulls in the conversation, my mind would wander… How many people are alive in the world today? Is it possible that a shooting star might quite spectacularly shoot into our atmosphere and across the sky without a single person in the world ever noticing? Do meteors want to be seen or do they try to be hidden? Rachel, stop being foolish, why do you have to give everything a personality and desires? But maybe God is rooting for us to see them, or the other sweet nothings that are quite fascinating. You know, the lunar eclipses, the northern lights, the double or triple rainbows, the firefly that splats on your windshield at the precise moment leaving glowing goo on your window for three or four seconds; the things in nature that you don’t need, and are relatively quite small, but once witnessed inspire a cocking of the head and a swirling of the pleased but confused “huh?” inside your brain. Anyways, we saw a few shooting stars on the beach, and because we didn’t see too many, I had a lot of time to sit and let my mind wonder.

The next day was spent exploring the low tide treasures like sea cucumbers and star fish. It was this day that I found myself to be unfortunately quite ignorant of my pasty skin meeting the intense equatorial sun. By the time I realized how much trouble I was in, it was a bit too late I’m afraid. Although, this didn’t stop me from lathering on three doses of sunscreen. I even chose safety over fashion by throwing a T-shirt on over my swimming suit before entering the ocean, alas, my efforts were in vain because I am in quite a lot of pain as I am typing just now. I shall have to work on being a better steward of the skin God has given me. :)

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