Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to be a volunteer with Marion Medical Mission installing shallow wells in villages in Tanzania. When we returned home we were asked to address our experiences and specifically “where we saw Christ in Africa”.

Dick with village kids

Dick with village kids

At this point I need to be truthful and give you my background. I do not consider myself a practicing Christian though I am very spiritual and have strong beliefs in goodness. Thus I was somewhat surprised to be selected for this mission. In applying I read the requirements were to let the villagers know about the Christians who donated the money for the well and make sure they understood the well was built to glorify God. I was comfortable with this.

This being said I arrived in Africa with a jaundiced eye, very wary of being exposed as a non-believer. I have always been a fan of Gandhi and his belief that Christ gave the world a great way to live, too bad no one had tried it. Well, Mahatma never met Marion Medical Mission!!!!

An often used definition of humility is doing for others expecting nothing in return. If true, I saw humility (and Christ) in so many ways I certainly will leave some out:

 

  • Dick with small village boy

    Dick with small village boy

    Most importantly, in the faces and gratitude of the villagers (never more humbling than when a woman gets on her knees to thank you for what you have done for her village or an elderly gentleman gives you a sack with two eggs).
  • The amazing paid staff in Africa. These are educated, intelligent, caring, determined and remarkably humble people. Their joy for what they are doing is contagious.
  • The volunteers who put up with difficult living circumstances, personality issues and hard work (driving the most durable vehicles ever made).
  • The fact that wells are allocated on need. There are no religious or political considerations (at some of our dedications the villagers did not pray).
  • The moment I realized that it was just not maji (water) coming out of the well – it was grace, love and hope given freely with no expectations.

 

I am very thankful to Tom Logan who graciously allowed me to be a part of something so magnificent.  I have long thought the two most significant events in my life were seeing Hank Aaron hit 715 (I am a baseball nut) and being on the second row at St. Peters for a beatification mass with John Paul II. Today I need to revise the list and put the wonderful dust of Africa at the top of the list.