Well I Didn’t Expect to Meet HER in Tanzania

*Special thanks to Photographer Keely Scott for capturing the stories through her photos.

I met Hospitality today.  Yep, her.

I’ve always known the requirement for being hospitable isn’t about finally getting to the place where you love where you live and can have the most up to date flooring and look cute in the Anthropologie apron while making that delicious meal Ina Garden made on TV when Jeffrey was out-of-town.  We all know that. But few of us live that.

Well, I’m reporting to you live from Africa, Tanzania to be exact and you very well may already know what we do here while on this Tanzania trip with Compassion but I’ll give you a quick recap.  We travel (what seemed long enough to reach the moon) and then we travel more and just when we think we are done? We travel more.  And then finally, when we reach our destination with our greasy hair and bossy intestines we get in a bus and head to a church.

We get out of the bus and wind our way around a well-worn 12 inch dirt path (don’t fall off) until it opens up to the biggest collection of children you can imagine. Smiling children.  Children who are sponsored (or waiting to be sponsored) by someone like you and someone like me. It was a sight.

We split up our group and a few of us go to little Jennifer’s house. She’s 6 years old and lives with her grandmother.  Her grandmother, who if you saw her randomly, walking around New York City, you would naturally assume she’s an African runway model with her beautifully patterned dress that I’m sure has a proper name and gauzy head scarf and stately features.  And she smiles and greets us and asks us to come into her home.  Her home that is made of concrete that is beginning to come apart.  You can see holes in the roof.

I watched her face as she invited us in.  It was pure joy.  There was no shame. It was as if she was honored we were there.  What?  You mean she wasn’t all “I’m so sorry I don’t have a rug, I’ve been meaning to repair my concrete floors, try to ignore the fact that 12 of us sleep in a three room house the size of your family room”…  How many of us do that on a daily basis when we sheepishly invite someone into our homes?

There was absolutely none of that. I cannot even imagine a word of ungratefulness even coming out of her mouth.  She was simply thrilled we were there.  I want to be like that.  When I invite someone in, am I more worried about what they think of me and my stuff or do I put the focus on people?  That is Hospitality.

She doesn’t have much, a table covered with a floral vinyl table-cloth, a plastic flower arrangement set centered on the table, a few random wall hangings, a sofa, a sheet covering a doorway to a bedroom.  She is one of twelve people who live in the three room house.  She sells tomatoes.  And her dream?  Not too unlike my own, her dream is to be able to buy her own home. Then she’ll be able to have her own land and hopefully grow more tomatoes to help her family.

But for now she has a huge load lifted off her shoulders because Jennifer is one of the children sponsored through Compassion International. Someone, someplace in the world spends $38 a month and somehow the Compassion people are able to magically make that little bit of money transform into something that is life changing. Which in turn can affect the entire family.  So no one has to fret over making sure Jennifer gets the medical attention, nutrition, schooling, and Bible teaching that will shape her future.  And because Compassion works with the local church, a two minute walk from little Jennifer’s rented home, when the family had some extra needs recently, Compassion stepped in to help. Compassion has a special fund set up especially for families who experience extreme circumstances like famine, illness, and natural disasters.

There are 50 Children at the Center/Church that we visited today that are patiently waiting on a sponsor.  Have you ever considered sponsoring a child?  I’d love for you to click over and just find out a little more information about the children patiently waiting on a sponsor, you can choose a boy or a girl or a birthday or find the child who’s been waiting the longest for a sponsor (my personal favorite).

I’ve just traveled further than I thought was possible without getting right back to my house and you know what I found? Moms and dads and grandmas and families just like me.  They love their children, dress them in their best when company’s coming, have dreams for tomorrow, live in community, put flowers in the center of the table on a special occasion, and have a hope for a better future for their children.

Be sure to read all the posts from the other bloggers I’m here hanging out with.

To be continued…

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  1. Hey, if you happen to see Jennifer or her supermodel grandma again, you should tell them (if you didn’t already), that their home is lovely. Really…quite beautiful. That shot of the table with the tablecloth and flowers and those nice chairs? It’s got some sort of stately elegance that I couldn’t replicate with all the money in the world if I tried. Some people are just elegant and lovely…I think Jennifer’s grandma must be one of them. :)

  2. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful family! I don’t know you personally, but I am “proud” of you for taking this unselfish trip and bringing this to all of our attention!
    Safe travels!~Kim

  3. What a beautiful reminder that it doesn’t take worldly things to make us happy or able to entertain. I am reminded of this every time my husband and I go on a mission trip. It is always so humbling for me. Some of the happiest and most content people I have met live in extreme poverty. All we need is God and to share the love of Christ.

  4. Brian Early says

    So good…

  5. This really touched me. I always get apologetic when people come over while I should be focused on them! People not stuff should be my new motto. Thank you!

  6. Julie Sawyer says

    Thank you for your words! I am following you and Keely (childhood friend) as you reveal together the amazing works of Compassion! Hope the rest of your trip continues to be just as touching!

  7. I’m so glad you are there and getting to experience these wonderful things and then also tell us these simple truths – we are all the same. Love you and praying for you.

  8. You have inspired me! My husband and I are now sponsoring a 6-yr old boy named Robert from Tanzania. Thank you for sharing Compassion’s ministry with us– we’re excited to be part of it!

  9. You’re intuition about the true meaning of hospitality has really struck a cord in me. This is a beautiful trip you’re undertaking. I can’t wait to see your next post.

  10. bless you and hugs to them!

  11. So beautiful!!!

  12. Thank you for this post. I read this via Big Mama and felt led to sponsor a child that has been waiting a long time. I”m the proud sponsor of a bouncing 6 yr. old boy named Ally from Tanzania :). He’s actually my second sponsored child, joining Dino from the Philippines through World Vision. Praise God for the work of these organizations!!

  13. Love you and love your heart.

  14. Love this post! I love how you captured the true meaning of hospitality, we should all be so grateful for what we have in our homes and be blessed to invite others in.

  15. What a wonderful experience !!! I sponsor two children through Compassion, one in Guatemala and one in India, two boys. I know there is a girl somewhere in the near future too. Thanks for sharing and for making it known, that there are so many children out there whose lives would be changed forever for just the money we spend on a night at the movies.

  16. You are so right about the true meaning of hospitality. I always feel so uncomfortable when people start apologizing for their home, and I decided to stop doing it no matter how messy mine might be at the moment. If we are welcoming and are truly glad to see them, that’s what counts. Thanks for sharing your experience with Compassion –they are a wonderful ministry.

  17. Samantha says

    I loved this post it humbled me in such a good way. I have been embarrasssed for too long of God’s blessings on my life. I am embarrassed that my blessings are not as nice as what my friends have. But what a blessing it is to have a 4 bedroom mobile home (typing those two words for people to read make me want to bust into tears, this is where my embarrassment lies living in a mobile home) and being mortgage free at 24. I have not invited people in with honor I have invited them in with shame and embarrassement. Thank you so much for these words and for the Godly woman who showed contentment in what the Lord has blessed her with, she has humbled me and convicted me of the change I need to make in my life.

    • I woke up this morning with my senseless “problems” weighing on my mind so heavily. Really, I have no problems. Thank you for the beautiful picture of joy of this woman. She is an inspiration. I needed that reset.

  18. Anonymous says

    This was beautiful! Thank you for sharing. It reminded me of a book I read by Edith Schaffer called, The Hidden Art of Homemaking. It’s the love and care that makes it beautiful, not the expense or “bling”. And using God’s handiwork, such as those gorgeous flowers…could it be any more lovely? I’m moved and inspired. Thanks!

  19. This was beautiful! Thank you for sharing. It reminded me of a book I read by Edith Schaffer called, The Hidden Art of Homemaking. It’s the love and care that makes it beautiful, not the expense or “bling”. And using God’s handiwork, such as those gorgeous flowers…could it be any more lovely? I’m moved and inspired. Thanks!

  20. Thank you so much for writing this post. I read it with tears in my eyes. I sponsor a little boy name Liners through Compassion. I love this little boy even though I have never met him. You should see his smile. It is amazing:) One day I hope to meet him. Thank you so much for giving us a window into this part of the world.

  21. Ahh, you’re in Tanzania!! I have to admit, I’ve been scouring your pictures looking for my little one. His name is Jafari and he just turned 6. One of my goals is to be able to go on the Compassion trips to meet my kiddos (my other Compassion kid is in Colombia, and I have one in Uganda through Amazima ministries)

  22. The proper name for the beautifully patterned dress is ” kitenge”.
    I have been reading your blog for about a year now.
    I come from Kenya, and rural Kenya is no different from Rural Tanzania.
    Thanks for visiting and sharing your life and blog.

  23. THANK YOU for such an amazing blog! I have only in the last few months become DIY/Design blog addicted and there are only one or two that I really follow, but that’s it your my new fave now! Thank you for bringing g-d into the picture! You are an inspiration, and a wonderful reminder to keep on the good path – keep it up!

  24. I love hearing about these people, their endurance, & what you are learning. Thank you for sharing.

  25. This is really amazing! Made tears in my eyes. Those images so familiar. Came from Tanzania now living in the US. I am missing home alot. I am also struggling trying to help a community in Iringa, Tanzania. I hope this gets achieved somehow.
    Thank you for the wonderful post. Such a great reminder.

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