“Lord, we ask for length of days; but even more we ask that each day count: count for Love, count for Mercy, count for Grace”. (From a song by Jerome Lange)
The mornings and evenings are the most pleasant time of day. At 5:30 AM each morning comes the inevitable Muslim call to prayer broadcast over loudspeakers from a local mosque. It lets me know the time without having to grope around in the darkness for the clock. But that silly rooster right outside my window thinks that he too has to make sure we know that morning is coming. I ignore him for at least another hour. The air is cool and dry when I go out into the rising sunlight accompanied by the songbirds rejoicing in the new day. This morning I saw a full moon still shining bright over the classrooms in front of our home, even while the sunlight was streaming through the trees. God’s world is so beautiful. It’s a good time to stretch the legs, breath deep the fresh air (there’s not as much dust in the air at this time of day), and to be glad to be alive. It’s a good time to seek God.
This pleasant atmosphere lasts a couple of hours until the sun starts to heat up the air and our home. People have been stirring around, men going to work, children walking through on their way to school, ladies doing their outdoor work, or walking to the markets to sell various goods. The Bible School students are preparing for another day of studies. I exchange morning greetings with those I meet, but mostly I try to avoid people. This sounds antisocial, but it’s actually hard to do: there are people wherever I walk. But I need this time to think, pray, and reflect on life. I end up wandering around some curious routes to achieve my goal. I don’t always get this time each morning, but it is good when it happens.
The day goes by: we do our family devotions, have our breakfast and morning tea (I like to add a bit of fresh milk that’s delivered to our door each morning; aren’t we blessed!), complete the morning chores (dishes, sweeping, laundry), and then go on to our daily work. The older children walk to the orphanage, the younger ones help with house work or do some studies, Mama prepares for and teaches two English classes, while I go to the office next door to work on Bible courses or sermons. It’s hot in the afternoons after lunch; who wants to do anything outside? Oh, the children do, of course. Often the afternoons find local children coming over to play at our home, running around, being silly, making noise, being creative; just being themselves. Sometimes they help us make supper. I’m glad they feel welcome to come and make themselves at home.
I look at my clock. Oh, past 6 o’clock already? It’s time to shut off the computer and spend some time with others. I greet the children lounging around our front door and suggest to Mama that we walk down to the Kapili’s place. Would you like to come with us? It’s not far, just a hundred yards away. We can see the orange-red sun hanging perfectly over the hills of Nyakato straight in front of us on our way down. Oh yes, there’s Babu (Grampa) Kapili sitting in his chair by the front door as always. He laughs for joy and waves his hands when he sees us coming. “Welcome! Welcome!” he cries out, “How is everyone? How are the children? How is the day? How is your home?” -----“Shikamoo Babu! We are fine, thank you! It’s nice to see you too!”
Babu calls out for “Bibi” (Grandma) to bring out extra chairs, to bring out hot water for coffee, and to bring out some roasted peanuts. We greet her with respect and settle down for a pleasant evening together. We maneuver the little coffee tables, trying to find a spot level enough to keep our cups from sliding off to the ground. Babu knows English, but Mama Kapili (as we call her) knows very little English. But that’s alright, she’s our Grandma and we all love her. The love of Christ comes forth from both of them and we are blessed. Sometimes the milkman stops by, ringing the bell on his bicycle: “Milk for sale!” He dips milk from a large metal can tied to the back of his bicycle in to a waiting sauce pan. Those evenings we are treated to tea or coffee made with hot milk.
As the evening wears on, our children begin coming down to see what we are doing, often staying with us until dark. We all end up sitting around, chatting and enjoying the drinks and snacks. We shoo away the chickens that get underfoot, while the rooster interrupts our conversation to assert his dominance over his little world. Babu and Mama Kapili have two grade school age grandsons staying with them for company in their old age. They have a great time playing with our children. One recent evening we sang songs of praise to the Lord together by the light of a kerosene lantern; then Babu sang some praise songs in his tribal language. Later, as everyone was leaving, he gripped my hand tightly and said in a kind voice, “Your family has touched my heart with your visits and your songs. You have made my life so very, very happy. Thank you for coming to spend time with us!” --- Babu Kapili, I was just thinking what a blessing you and Bibi are to our family!
Along about dark, the grandsons have to start herding the chickens into the house. Yes, through the kitchen and into the spare room. They are brought in each night to protect them from varmints. Finally we must get up to leave, which often takes quite a while, even though the mosquitoes are starting to bite. “No, No, don’t pick up anything, let the boys clear away the dishes.” Babu and Mama Kapili walk us a little ways towards the house, holding our hands and telling us how much they appreciated our coming by to see them. We tell them how much we appreciate their hospitality. After several rounds of "Asante Sana" (Thanks a lot), “Usiku Mwema” (Good Night) and “Baadaye Kesho” (See you tomorrow), we slowly make our way back home: relaxed and refreshed from having spent time with our Tanzanian grandparents.
“Lord we ask that each day count: count for Love, count for Mercy, count for Grace”.
May the peace of Christ be with you,