Our missionaries have so many stories…Each one of them could sit with you for hours and share story after story. Once in a while we get one of those stories in writing that they share with us. This blog post is one of those times. The Caraway family shares a story with you today that we are sure will encourage and challenge you. It will also give you a neat glance into the Caraways’ lives. So, without further-a -do enjoy what Lynn Caraway shares with you today:
Dear Family and Friends,
On October 13th, Michael went to the orphanage to pick up a new baby for us to care for in our home. The woman in charge, Sister Maria, was excited to tell him that a newborn from Mumba had just arrived and she would like us to care for him. He was only one day old and his mother had been buried that day after dying from complications of a C-section. Daudi is the first baby we’ve had who is actually from our own village. We thought it would be great, because his extended family would be able to easily visit him at our home.
As Michael was leaving the orphanage, Sister Maria told him that they would like to come on Saturday and say pole (po-lay) at Mumba. That means they wanted to come and extend their sympathies to the family and say sorry. They don’t normally do this at the orphanage, but we assumed it was because the baby was from our village and they probably thought we knew the family.
They couldn’t get a car that Saturday, but the following Saturday Michael saw a missed call on his phone from Sister Maria. She had called at 8:00 a.m., so he called her back. She said they had a car and would be leaving soon. We assumed they would stop here either before or after they visited the family, so I talked to our cook, Mama Debora, and told her we would need to prepare “chai” or tea for about four people – that was the number I assumed would come. Turns out that they got a late start and were not going to be showing up until after 1:00. That meant it would be at lunch time. We didn’t know if they would be fed in the village, but I figured if our family just ate a small amount, we could stretch our rice, beans and cabbage and probably feed an extra four people.
At 1:15 the car pulled up with the driver, three nuns and four other orphanage workers along with six young children! Yikes, I knew we couldn’t stretch the food that far. I pulled out some banana muffins and some left over corn bread and some of Michael’s favorite coconut cookies, along with tea for everyone. We didn’t know how long they would stay, because we assumed they were still planning to go “pole” Daudi’s family in the village. They handed me a basket with a gift in it, again I assumed it was for Daudi’s family. They stayed a while, so I asked if the basket was for us – they said yes, so I brought it into the kitchen to unload. There was a full size bundt-type cake and about three pounds of delicious deep fried peanuts. We loaded up their pan with sugar and cookies (the custom here is to always return a container full rather than empty) for the return trip to the orphanage.
Michael took all the adults and kids on a tour to see the tree nursery where there are about 28,000 tree seedlings being prepared for the planting season and a demonstration garden of Farming God’s Way. The kids had fun trying to count the trees while the adults had lots of questions about Farming God’s Way and how they can learn more and implement this small scale conservation farming program on their own. After returning to our home and talking for a couple of hours, Sister Maria stood up and started talking to Michael and me and saying “pole” to us. I was feeding Daudi and not paying the best attention when she asked me to go stand by Michael. As I went up to him, he whispered, “This is for you because your father died!” All of our assumptions that it was because of Baby Daudi were wrong! My father died last November and they said this was their first chance to come out here to give me “pole”. They had talked about my trip to America, but never mentioned my dad, because it isn’t normal in this culture to refer to the dead person. I was stunned that this was all for me! Then they said the workers at the orphanage took up a collection for me and they gave me 52,000 Tanzania Shillings – close to $25 in American money. What a humbling experience this was for Michael and me when we realized these 14 people came all the way out to Mumba to share their sympathy and their hard earned money with us.
After being surprised by all of this, the next thing I thought was, “Oh my goodness, and I didn’t even feed them lunch!!!” But they were very gracious and seemed perfectly happy with the banana muffins, cornbread and cookies. Only two of the workers knew me from the beginning when we first discovered Luka at the orphanage, so we were able to share our history of working here and tell Luka’s story to the ones who hadn’t heard it. I also shared with them that Daudi was the 33rd baby we have taken care of in our home and they broke into applause and then shared with us how much of an encouragement it is to them as we participate in caring for the little ones. At times it seems like such a small thing that we do – taking one baby home when they still have so many to care for, but it was so encouraging to hear their gratitude for what we do.
Please keep these kind, hardworking people in your prayers as they care for the orphans in Sumbawanga. Thank you for helping us have opportunities like these. We appreciate your prayers and encouragement.
With love from Africa,
Mike, Lynn and Luka