This year, the Zion Companionship Committee created more opportunities for us to be with people and get to know life and the people of Kirangare. For example, we are staying in homes with hosts who are supported by neighbors in the work of cooking and cleaning. Also, some nights we are having dinner with our hosts neighbors.
Last night, Anna hosted Pastor Fue and me for dinner. Anna is 79 years old and full of energy and laughter. She was a Sunday school teacher in Kirangare for a very long time. In fact, she was Pastor Fue's Sunday school teacher! Even now, she is the “Grandmother” of the Sunday school, which means she tells the children bible stories. “Do you need a book?” Pastor Fue asked her when she was appointed. “No,” she said. “The stories are inside me, and I will tell them.”
Anna giggled with excitement at my visit. Rehema, her neighbor who helped her prepare the meal, and Pastor Fue kept teasing her.
Anna said she felt like Zaccheus when Jesus came to his house. And she said I was the first white person she ever hosted.
(Mzungu means white person in Swahili. I’ve heard children shout, “Mzungu, how are you!?” and children whisper to each other, “Mzungu! Come and look!” All in Swahili, of course.)
Anna has five children: 2 in Arusha, 1 in Same, and 2 in Dar Es Salaam. She also has 17 grandchildren. Her children kept sending her messages asking if I had arrived yet. One daughter demanded a photo!
The biggest laughter—hers and ours—came after she hid away in her bedroom for a few minutes. When she returned to the living room, she had changed her closes! She now wore a bright new orange shirt and matching head scarf. We laughed and laughed together about her pure, childlike joy.
Before we ate, she prayed in English, “God, bless this food. Amen.” And before I left, she asked me to pray. Her understanding every word I prayed was not the point. It was being together, sharing love and joy in the presence of God who deeply honored us both.