Upon hearing of our earlier than planned departure some good friends planned a dinner party of sorts in our honor. To be honest we were exhausted because it was the same day as the Anni’s school shin-dig and 2 weddings. The last minute nature of everything meant we only knew details an hour or so before but we knew if we could just make it there it would be a special night. It turned out to be one of the most cherished days we spent on our island. Here are some excerpts from what Jason wrote about that night…..
We stumbled blindly in the darkness along the dirt and sand strewn pathway, winding between mud and brick walled homes filled with the aromas of exotic spiced rice and fish dishes. As we fumbled along, trying our best to avoid twisting an ankle due to the rocks and potholes along the way (and Roxanne mumbling about wishing she had worn flip flops instead of her “fancy shoes”), we were greeted by many Zanzibaris, curious as to where these locally clad wazungu were headed. We approached a local Academy, the site of the “chai” (tea) party we were invited to attend as the guests of honor, where we were greeted by a traditional celebratory palm frond archway, balloons, and smiles all around. Through the doorway, neat palm mats were laid out on the floor with place settings for each of the guests. We were invited to sit down together at the “head” of the floor, but Roxanne quickly decided she wanted to sit with the ladies in the women’s seating area, which drew a big applause by all! Surrounded by some of the most familiar faces we’ve come to know and love, we enjoyed a tasty meal together, scooping up traditional breads, sauces, and tasty treats with our hands as we enjoyed the company seated in a large circle. The formal ceremony included speeches of thanks, memories, and of course “maneno madogo” (a few small words) from the guests of honor. Though the room was filled with bodies and the stuffiness lead to dripping sweat in the tropical heat, that did not prevent us from breaking into large grins as each guest took turns taking pictures. We will be touched forever by the gratefulness expressed to us, not only through the words shared, but by the thoughtful gifts and obvious effort this group of extremely “poor” (in the eyes of the West) put in to seeing us off properly. Yet the richness of life these people experience despite lacking monetarily is a gift we were allowed to be a part of that can never be taken away from us. We were blessed to hear the stories they shared and how grateful the men that have studied so long with Jason are for what they have learned. We were blessed to know that they will continue to read and study together without their ‘teacher’. We were filled with joy when someone shared with Roxanne that “many wazungu come here to Zanzibar, and they take and take. But for four years, you have been here and you have only given to us.” This may have made us feel good, but we pointed out to them that it was God’s love for them that they have been shown—not us—but His Spirit within us. And none of this would have been possible without each of you encouraging and loving us. We are so privileged to be a part of it with you. Mwenyezi Mungu ni Mwema. God is good. Alhamdulillah. Praise God!
Well said J. Now for some pictures….
the all carb and sugary tea diet…yummy but yes you pay for it later.
us ladies ready to dig in (as soon as the men got back from praying)
hey, who let the tall Mzungu in?
the men that studied together every week
J and his bestie….. I had to include this picture cuz I think it is so cheesy……right?
And that was the unlikely dinner party that filled my stomach and my soul.