Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why me? Why this? Why now?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Day Two

We touched down with barely a bump on a gloomy morning in Amsterdam. And, except for the foreign accents and languages, the unfamiliar currency, and the fact that a small bottle of juice priced out at US$5.00, we might as well have been in any US airport....complete with MacDonald's (which I judiciously avoided). It was a fairly short layover (two hours) without the need to go through customs or reclaim and recheck luggage before boarding again for the nine-hour flight to the Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania. Once in our seats, take-off was delayed for over an hour for refueling, affording time to nap on and off before rumbling off to Africa.

During the flight, I continued to read "Dead Aid",

a book that explores why international aid has had no appreciable impact on development in Africa...why billions of dollars have made so little difference there, having to do with the financial markets, political corruption, and, among other abuses, personal greed:

"After his meeting with President Reagan, Zaire's President Mobuto Sese Seko had asked for easier terms to service the country's US$5 billion debt; he then promptly leased the Concorde to fly his daughter to her wedding on the Ivory Coast."


And what qualifies the author, Dambisa Moyo, to comment with such authority on the matter? Well, to begin with she is an African woman with a master's degree in from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a  Ph. economics from Oxford University. Her thoughts fueled my personal misgivings about our mission in Lobosoit.

For a little comic relief, I then turned to "It's Kind of a Funny Story" by Ned Vizzini,

and pondered how the author managed to relate the descent into suicidal depression with such a sense of (dry) humor!

By way of distraction, we witnessed a little outburst of temper, intolerance, and entitlement in a few of our sleep-deprived teams members, compounded by the unprofessional behavior of one of the stewards...although, to their credit, apologies were sealed with a handshake in the end...while the women smiled and rolled their eyes at these oh-so-Christian men :) .
It was nearly 6:00 pm when we finished the last of our in-flight "meals" and prepared for touch-down at the Kilimanjaro International Airport...still an hour overland to Arusha and some three hours by vehicle to Lobosoit.  It took almost two hours to collect up all of our luggage, to get through customs, and to load everything onto buses for the ride to Arusha. Thankfully, our organizers had arranged for us to spend the night at The African Tulip .

If you check out this link you'll see that it was, indeed, a grand little hotel--clean, nicely appointed, and comfortable--where we enjoyed a hot shower and a good night's sleep.

In the morning, we would have to shift gears...meaning downshift into work mode accompanied, in this group, by fervent, animated prayer, unflagging optimism, and devout gratitude. Returning to Africa, I felt drawn away from the the night sky. What better place to open oneself to the possibility/certainty/inevitability of God...and then ask your questions?
Why me?
Why this?
Why now?
Does any of it make a difference--our efforts, our hopes, our intentions, our sacrifices, our will? Is it acceptable to simply allow life to unfold without any of that? "Oh, the places you'll go" when you allow your mind to wander off!

We slept that night knowing that in the morning we would be off to the bush...not knowing what tomorrow and tommorrow would bring.
"An educated man must have a curiosity
in exploring the unfamiliar and unexpected,
 an open-mindedness in entertaining opposing points of view,
tolerance for the ambiguity that surrounds so many important issues,
and a willingness to make the best decisions he can
 in the face of uncertainty and doubt."
--Derek Bok--

In my next post, we'll be setting up camp and meeting the Masai.
Be still,


  1. Jan, I enjoy reading about your experiences. You truly had an incredible journey.

  2. I can't wait for the next installment, Jan. Did you find time to journal all this each day or did you write from memory? I can't tell you how much I admire you for going on this mission.

  3. Thanks Dennis and Susan! Actually, I kept copious notes from day to day. I didn't want to forget anything!