I don’t have any excuse for my silence over the last nine months. There are reasons, contributing factors… but they don’t excuse it. I have been working a part-time job and also living in an intentional Christian community. The two of those things took a lot of my time each week, and then living in an intentional community brought up some new rough edges that I hadn’t noticed in myself. In response, I’ve devoted a lot more time to daily prayer, journaling, and meditation, hoping to work through some of this and to grow closer to God.
While none of these are bad things, I should have kept you updated as well. I apologize that I didn’t do a better job of balancing all of this.
I was not able to stick with our plan and return to Tanzania in February to launch the community in August. Intentional Christian community is harder than I had expected. A few months ago I realized that I need more experience with this; I wouldn’t be ready to lead a community by February 2019.
I am deeply grateful that the church next-door has hired me as their youth minister. This youth group is made up entirely of the children of refugees from East Africa, and their parents all speak Swahili. I can’t tell you what a pleasant surprise it has been to continue speaking Swahili and growing in my knowledge of East African culture through my part-time job here in Dallas.
Eric Soard and the folks in Tarime, Tanzania are planning on me returning in late 2020 or early 2021 to get the community started. I’ve written out a more detailed timeline here:
As I continue pressing toward this goal despite this very necessary setback, I am reminded of this almost poetic passage from a favorite book:
“It’s like this when you live a story: The first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative, and you’re finally out in the water; the shore is pushing off behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The distant shore doesn’t seem so far, and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of your boat and walking the distant beach. You think the thing is going to happen fast, that you’ll paddle for a bit and arrive on the other side by lunch. But the truth is, it isn’t going to be over soon.
… the work is harder than you imagined… at some point the shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes that used to move you now only rock the boat.
… the shore you left is just as distant, and there’s no going back; there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch, and sink into the sea…
It’s like this with every crossing, and every story, too. You paddle until you no longer believe you can go any farther. And then suddenly, well after you thought it would happen, the other shore starts to grow, and it grows fast. The trees get taller and you can make out the crags in the cliffs, and then the shore reaches out to you, to welcome you home, almost pulling your boat onto the sand”
The title is a Swahili expression meaning, “Giving up is not an option for me.”
Thank you, friends.
(Excerpt from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller)