Stories - Not What I Expected - Tanzania Journal #72


Not What I Expected - Tanzania Journal #72

Katie Gettmann | Nov 28, 2018

This summer I had the opportunity to visit Siha Leadership Academy (formerly PUNCHWMI) as part of a Go Journey team to Karansi, Tanzania. I had many fears and hesitations leading up to the day of departure. I was leaving my husband and two young daughters to travel 20+ hours across the world to a land I knew would be completely foreign to anything I had ever experienced. I had concerns about risk of illness, accommodations, food, jetlag and traveling with my 12-year-old daughter internationally, among others. However, I kept reminding myself how long I had yearned to visit Veronica (the child our family sponsors).  For 7 years we have invested through sponsorship, writing letters, sending packages, video chat and most importantly prayer.  It felt surreal that Riley and I would be invited into her home and sit face-to-face with her and her family after all this time and distance between us. I had no idea what awaited me in that poor, little town in Tanzania. What I found was not at all what I expected.  


Upon arrival, I was overwhelmed by Karansi's landscape. The poverty and lack of modern development was shocking.  The appearance is desolate.  The dirt roads are chock-full of boulders and potholes and much of the town is flooded. Lack of a functioning economy is evident by many store employees loitering outside storefronts passing time. The livestock around town is malnourished and so are many of the children. It is difficult to fully describe the incredible contrast to our privileged life in America.  Being confronted with such seemingly hopeless circumstances churned emotions in me of anger, frustration and heartbreak.


As the week progressed, the Lord began to drastically shift my perspective. I realized that the circumstances of this community are in no way congruent with the reality of the abundance of their lives. Love, joy, hope and peace overflow from the hearts of the children and adults alike. There is tremendous beauty and freedom in the way they live. Scripture tells us that temporary comforts and material pleasures this world offers has no measure to knowing God and enjoying His friendship. True wealth can only be found in treasures that are eternal. Through the people in Karansi I was able to “taste” this true wealth and therefore “see” God’s goodness take the victory over hardship. I’m telling you, it is amazing!  There were so many moments I was compelled to look up to the heavens and worship Him with thanksgiving simply because I understood His love (for each one of us) in a greater way through the lives of my friends in Karansi.  I can tell you with great confidence that there is nothing, nothing that can separate us from the love we have in Christ Jesus.  No matter what problem we face, there is a promise purchased for us at the cross to satisfy our need. We, who are in Christ, are more than conquerors!