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. How inspirational – to know that people with so little are thrilled to share what they have. So glad you are sharing your journey to Tanzania with us.

  2. Yes! This! You and your greasy hair and your bossy intestines have done so well. We are gonna love seeing what Compassion is doing through your eyes, sister. So, so amazing.

  3. Oh, I can’t help but smile–Emily already wrote my first line! I mean, bossy intestines? Yes…that made me smile throughout the reading of your entire writing.

    Nester, you’re so ding-dang down to earth and you break things down so easily, we’ll all read and see a fresh story being told about Compassion because you’re the one doing the telling. Given all the things that have happened already, well, this IS an adventure.

    And it’s the kind that MATTERS because LIVES ARE BEING SAVED through your story-telling. Because you’re sharing this beautiful message of HOPE, contained in the person of Jesus and carried out through the organization of CI.

    Praying for you and all.


  4. These photos are so beautiful that they brought tears to my eyes. Look at the little boy in the too-big suit. Be still my heart.

    I am praying for you and the team. I hope you are able to rest up tonight! I’ll be here anxiously waiting for the next installment of posts!

  5. love your words here. you’re doing a good thing.

  6. Loved reading this! So true about hospitality. I live in a new house and certainly don’t entertain enough. Ok probably once a year, that is NEVER! All because I think I’m a horrible hostess. That lovely lady in Tanzania probably puts a lot of us to shame. I think maybe a lot of us (at least me) focuses too much on myself, how I’m feeling, how I’m embarrassed, etc., instead of focusing on the guest and just making them happy. I hope to read more posts about your amazing trip! I’ve been sponsoring through Compassion for probably at least 10 years now and I love it. I just love getting the sweet little letters from the girl I’m currently sponsoring. :)

  7. This is beautiful! You really touched my heart the way you explain how you met HER… Hospitality. You challenged my heart! I want to focus on people more, instead of what people think of me. That is so powerful! Thank you for this beautiful reminder. I hope your trip with Compassion continues with amazing stories. I love Africa! I spent three months in Zambia and one month in Malawi and it was breath-taking. Kudos to the photographer for capturing such raw and intense images! Blessings!

  8. I’ve been waiting for this post. The first one. I love that after traveling all that way, you met a Nester, there in Tanzania. She rents. She dreams. She puts pretty flowers on the table. Yeah, you do that too.

    That is just so lovely. I love how God just knows where we need to land and who need to meet and why we need to sometimes kick fear to the curb and go.


    • Yes, exactly what Stacey said – a Tanzanian Nester meets an American Nester and both of them help us see the world differently and discover how much it’s actually the same.

      I LOVE Compassion through your voice! Keep ’em coming – we’re cheering you on over here {and feeling so much better about the state of our own carpets and back yards as you remind us in all new ways that perfect is not a prerequisite to beautiful}


    • This.
      This made me crazy.

      Here and there.
      It’s all the same.
      Nesting. Hospitality.
      You and her.

      Oh, the tears.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story! Saying a prayer for you on your journey and for the all the children He is blessing through you! :-)

  10. Wonderful~ Love hearing about Tanzania through your eyes!! Best wishes on your continued journey and adventure ~ CA

  11. I have been checking and checking to see if your first post was up!! Now I am crying tears and tears. I even made Weston read this. When the kids come in from playing outside we are going to pick a child to sponsor. Thank you. You are so inspiring my friend. Wow this is just beautiful. Cant wait to read more!!
    love love love love

  12. I cannot get over the pure joy in that child’s eyes. Wonderful stuff. Thank you for sharing.

  13. If there was ever a post to open my eyes to my shallow ways, this would be it. So beautiful. I can’t wait to read the rest of your journey.

  14. thank you for going on this trip b/c i know it wasn’t an easy decision. reading this, hearing you speak the words as i read it, is just life giving. our focus should always be people. you have challenged me, my friend. you don’t have to write another word because this post was beautiful! looking forward to the rest of the week. praying for you & the team. {ps – hope the bossy intestines settle down!}

  15. This made me cry. Thank you for your sacrifice to go and do this work with Compassion. God bless these sweet sweet people, I am praying for all 50 (and more) to get sponsored during this bloggers trip. Safe travels, I can’t wait to see what God is up to this week!!


  16. Inspiring people…and such an insightful post. Further evidence that we’re really all the same. Thanks for sharing your experience. :-)

  17. Lukas! That’s our little guy’s name!! It was such a beautiful family moments picking a child to sponsor. My kids are so excited and are already writing and drawing him pictures! Thank you for introducing me to such an amazing organization!
    lots of love

  18. Oh my…this right here: “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.” Wowzers, did this ever hit me. I mean, yes ~ I don’t want to shy from having guests over because I put my imperfect house full of imperfect things ahead of people. For sure. But Nester, you’ve just perfectly summed up the whole beauty of Compassion. When we make the commitment {and the sacrifice} to sponsor a child, we show our priority is people and not stuff. And that is always the best kind of hospitality!

    Praying for you, friend. I love you so much!

  19. I’m excited for you and can’t wait to read about the rest of the trip from your perspective.

  20. Nice to meet hospitality, thank you for sharing her. This really hits home, I look forward to the updates.

  21. Our Sophia is in Tanzania, and I’m sure it’s a pretty big place, that Tanzania, but what if you meet her????? Holy word. She’s tall and beautiful. Does that narrow it down? If you see her, squeeze her hard about the ribs for me.

  22. Lori H says:

    I have been so excited to follow your Tanzania posts…and you didn’t disappoint. I look forward to the whole series and I plan to try to read your fellow traveling bloggers too when I can. I pledge to pray for you while you are there – it’s the least I can do for all your work relaying your experience.

  23. Okay…

    I’m a mess.

    “I cannot even imagine a word of ungratefulness even coming out of her mouth.”

    I love you so much.

    On my knees on the farm and so praying…

  24. Courtney says:

    Amazing.. Love it <3

  25. Amazing. I am moved, humbled, amazed…that is true hospitality. Makes you really think about how silly it is when we fret to impress others…thank you so much for sharing!

  26. Wow! That’s all I can say. Wow!

    And… thank you for sharing!

  27. Oh this is good. This is Nester-y and Jesus-y and so good. I cried when I saw your face in the group photo. Praying and loving Compassion International more than I already did!

  28. Oh, Nester, I love this post…bossy intestines and all. It’s probably something we all know deep down, but there’s something about meeting Hospitality in Tanzania that makes it more real, doesn’t it? Praying for you and the rest of the team this week. Sharing and retweeting like crazy to get more kids sponsored. Thanks for going and giving them a voice.

  29. Wow!! This was a beautiful piece and I loved how you were able to tie it into the theme of your blog. I truly enjoyed your insight and I pray that the rest of your trip will be a fruitful as the first! God bless.

  30. You spoke volumes, I mean volumes to me in this post! I love being a part of this community, amazing, can’t wait to travel this journey with you. Will you squeeze a few of those kiddos for me??? Sending you all love and light!

  31. Oh, this is going to be fun. You’ve made me miss Africa already.
    Let Him lead you and Show us more, Nester. -xo

  32. Thank you.
    Thank you for sharing your heart. For showing me a glimpse of Tanzania. And for reminding me of the real important. It’s not the stuff. Not at all.
    It’s the heart.
    And you wrote it beautifully.

  33. You are at your loveliest when you write like this…. I am just in awe of you and your heart and your insight and I so wish I was there!! We have sponsored two children through Compassion Intl from Uganda for almost three years and we know the joy of receiving new letters and pictures and watching them grow but I simply cannot imagine how amazing it is to be there. Can’t wait to read all about it, I’m sure it’s a lifechanging experience!

  34. Oh my! This is fantastic! Thank you for reminding us what Hospitality really looks like. She is lovely! Seems there has been an impostor parading around my heart and my home for too long a time now.

    If you meet a little 6-year old named Michael there, he just might be ours. Please give him an extra long hug.


  35. Yes yes yes and amen. Love this and your story. Praying for you … And the team … And the children!! xoxo

  36. This made me cry. I loved every word.

  37. I’ve been looking forward to posts about Tanzania. We sponsor a little boy named Junior who will turn 4 in just a few months. We’ve only been sponsoring a short while but the blessings are great.

    Thank you for going and for sharing!!

  38. These are some of the most beautiful faces I’ve ever seen. I could learn a lot from “real” hospitality–we all could.

    I’ve been thinking about you so much these last few days and I’m praying for you.

  39. What a wonderful story! I’m praying for you and this trip and so excited for the opportunity to hear it through your words and see it through your eyes. Love you, sister!

  40. If this isn’t Beauty, my friend…I don’t know what is. Convicted. Encouraged. Excited to the moon for you. Thank you for obeying and going…when every fiber in your being screamed no.

  41. I’ve been praying … and waiting to see your first post from Tanzania. I absolutely LOVE that you met hospitality there! It doesn’t surprise me; I experience the same thing in Brazil when I travel with Hope Unlimited for Children. It’s always such a reminder to me that God created us in His image … with a longing to live in relationship. And so, at our best, we open ourselves up “just as we are” to those around us, and include them in our lives. Jennifer’s grandmother is beautiful … inside and out. (Keep these posts coming … and I’ll keep the prayers headed your way.)

  42. Thank you SO much for this post. I, too, sponsor a child – he lives in the Philippines. It’s so easy to gloss over the needs of the world and concentrate on our own “stuff”. You brought me back to the reality of what life is all about!

  43. beautiful, nester. beautiful! I won’t forget her and her hospitality and her heart. true hospitality! thank you.
    thank you for sharing God’s love. there. here.

  44. Nester, you rock! Thanks for the reminder of what really matters.

  45. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for bringing this gift to all of us. May your week be blessed with beautiful lessons and precious interactions!

  46. You touched my heart! Yes. The eyes welled up. Thanks for going around the world for Jesus. Thanks for noticing and receiving and writing about hospitality so beautifully.

  47. Nester, our Compassion child, Julius, lives in Tanzania!! How exciting (and yes, I’m a little jealous) that you get to see that land and meet those precious people! He is 7 years old at the ELCT Njiapanda children’s center. If there is any chance you are in that area, won’t you find that sweet boy and hug his neck for us? Tell him that his family in the states, the Goldsmith’s, love him dearly!

  48. Robin Heim says:

    Oh, how I WISH that my husband and I could be there with you! Our little girl is, no doubt, a part of the group you are visiting. Noela Nicholaus Paul {8 years old}. She’s a cutie — just like the rest of the beautiful children. If you just happened to meet her — give her a BIG hug from us!

    God Bless You!
    Robin & Ernie Heim

  49. What a beautiful post ~ I look forward to reading more of your experiences this week. Thank you for this.

  50. Wow! Great message! Wonderful, life-changing adventure!

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