Appreciating the Waiting

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

The living arrangement that I currently have is sharing a HUGE house with another teacher at the school. The relationship between this house and the school goes all the way back to its conception and the founders of the school lived here. After they moved on, many other teachers and their families occupied the rooms of this home. It resides on a compound with two other houses: one of which was also being used as staff housing, and the other the residence of the landlord. At the end of December, the couple living in the other staff house decided to shift to a new home. The house we live in is much too large for just two people, and now with the other house unoccupied it just didn’t make much sense for the school to continue renting this current property. So the school began the process of arranging a new property to rent as staff housing. The new property has four smaller houses, which is much more sensible for the staff members without children (which is most of us). 

This all developed at a really wonderful time because I was personally beginning to feel the itch to have my own space. I spent the first seventeen years of my life living with my family, and the last five years living with other people, and am really craving the opportunity to live on my own. Once that scratching that itch became a real option, it was almost like I fell down the rabbit hole of fantasizing about this new stage of my life. 

These past six months have provided a lot of transformation and enlightenment in how I understand the world, myself, and God; as well as the relationship that exists between the three. So, to be able to explore these things more deeply in a space that I have cultivated for myself and can have complete freedom to be my organic self without any witnesses has become a vigorously exciting concept to me. 

My friend Emi is in town visiting me again and has been making purchases for the house her and Lemakau are building, and has been just further developing my excitement towards being able to make those purchases for the home that will soon be mine. I have lengthy daydreams about the decor, and furniture I can adorn the space with; the recipes I can experiment with, and the failures in cooking I can learn from; the guests I can have over, and the conversations and memories we will create; the introspection I’ll have space to engage in, and the person I will grow into. These have been consuming my thoughts and interactions for weeks, and it has become difficult for me to make it through a conversation without mentioning how excited I am to move.

Yet, like many things in Tanzania, this move is not following the initially anticipated timeline. When we first found the new compound, the director at my school felt like we would be able to move by the end of January. There were negotiations to be had with the property owner, and renovations to the houses needed to be done, so the move date got pushed to the first Sunday of February. Last news was that the owner was shifting the date again to the beginning of March, so now it is really anybody’s guess of when we will actually move. So, until then, I find myself living in a state of limbo as the school sorts out the situation with the owner. 

At first, I was pretty peeved about the move being so drastically delayed, especially with all the plans and dreams that have been consuming my thoughts. I was feeling so energized and motivated, but with nowhere to put that energy and motivation. Yet, in these past few days, as He often does, God has been slowly revealing what I believe to be the reason behind the waiting. 

With Emi and Lemakau enjoying a longer visit than anticipated by any of us (are you noticing a trend in how ‘planning’ works here?) , it has been a real gift to have the extra space for us to cook and play cards and spend time with each other. It also has been insightful to see the house through someone else’s eyes. When I become accustomed to a space, it is easy for me to lose my appreciation for it, but when someone else is there to point out how beautiful the architecture is, or to remind me to sit out in the peaceful garden, or to dance in the living room, it refreshes my views on it. 

I have also had some other little visitors the past two days to help me see the house through new eyes. Yesterday, after coming back from doing some work at school, I saw five little boys in school uniforms sitting outside my gate. Utilizing the Kiswahili I’ve been acquiring, I spoke with them and discovered that they wanted the fruit that was growing from the tree that they could see over the wall of my compound. I didn’t even know that tree grew fruit, and saw no harm in letting them enjoy it before it rotted or the birds got to it, so I opened the gate for them to come into the compound with me. The second they stepped through the big red gate, two of them sprinted towards a few pieces that had already fallen to ground, while the rest quickly began climbing up and into the branches of the tree to shake more free. They spent maybe thirty minutes releasing the fruits from their branches before deciding it was enough for them. They said their thank yous and goodbyes, and before leaving, one eager boy with a smile spread wide across his face declared “KESHO!” – or “TOMORROW!” 

As promised, around the same time as I found the boys yesterday, I heard a loud knocking on the gate and came out to find a few familiar faces. They greeted me and I invited them back into the compound. Their successful fruit collecting yesterday must have been the talk of their school because today more tiny, uniformed bodies came streaming through the gate and got straight to work; I counted maybe twenty at one point. The more athletic boys deftly maneuvered the branches of the tree, shaking fruits loose and tossing others down to the kids who remained on the ground, shouting instructions and advice to one another the whole time. Today’s harvesting mission lasted over an hour and gathered more attention from the neighbors passing by who could likely see the little boys high up in the tree from the road. So, we had many men and women poking their heads through the gate to see what the fuss was about, and collecting a piece or two of the fruit for themselves before going about their days. 

While I watched the children slowly file back out the gate, their bags and shirts filled with the precious green orbs, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. I had never noticed this tree or paid it any special attention, but it was the holy grail of trees for these children. They invited me into their excitement, and I became a participant in their joy. 

Yes, living alone will be fabulous, and grant me many new experiences and opportunities. However, where I am now is also fabulous, and a blessing in many ways that I haven’t fully appreciated yet. I feel like God is reminding me of His perfect timing once again. Although I may feel like I know what I should be doing, He knows what plans He has for me, and they are much better than my own plans. 

He knew that those kids were going to want that fruit and that I needed to be here to be a part of it. They are a reminder for me to slow down and not be so eager to move onto the next thing without fully appreciating exactly where God has placed me here and now. 

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