I like what Africa gives to me. I enjoy the stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks beauty of the land and the splendid hospitality of her beautiful people. However, as wonderful as these are, the real power of Africa for me is her ability to help me sort out the important things of life.
What Africa gives to me
- Greater appreciation for the simple things of life- when I am around people own nothing but the clothes on their back, it makes me much more grateful
- Deeper respect for the power of the human spirit to survive- read my story about the man who was severely mauled by hyenas yet walked three days for help
- New friends- I met people who settled themselves into a part of me that was vacant, yet now filled with their names and faces
- New stories of people- I measure my activity in Africa by the people I met because each thing I did was connected to a person
At the end of the day
I often quote the phrase, “At the end of the day,” because it helps me sort out life’s priorities. When the day is done and night whispers me to sleep, I want to know that I invested my time wisely and in things that really matter. After 20 years as a pastor and officiating over 500 funerals, I became aware of what does and does not matter to people. Each time I visited families in the sacred sancturaries of their grief, they would share photos and stories of the person whom they loved and lost. No one ever showed me their bank accounts; they told me stories instead.
Make major life decisions in a cemetery
My Dad taught me to make all the major decisions of life in a cemetery. He wasn’t morose or morbid; he just had faith that death did not end our life and there will be a resurrection and reunion someday. He taught me we are eternal beings and, at the end of the day, people matter most because we live forever.
Some folks collect exotic treasures. Some collect unusual knickknacks. Some collect works of art. Some collect baseball cards. However, I collect stories of people who inspire, encourage, and challenge me. Like a grass bowl weaver I recently met in Africa, I carefully choose the finest variety of stories and weave them into my story.
The photo at the very top of this blog is of my new African family, Cyril Mtumbo. They have never had a family photograph taken and they all acted like little children. They are what Africa gives to me.
At the end of the day, the stories of my new friends tuck me in to a peaceful rest with dreams of a better world in which everyone snuggles into bed with both their tummies and hearts full.