Lent Blog #9 (Mambo Sawa Sawa)

February 25, 2010

Tonight we had a chapel forum for Invisible Children. Basically, people from the organization came and showed a video and then talked to us a bit about the different things that they are doing in Northern Uganda. I have always been a fan of Invisible Children. I discovered their work in high school and quickly wanted to help out. So, at that time, I helped out the only way that I knew how to, I bought a t-shirt and a bracelet and considered my part done. Obviously, as I have gotten older, I have become more passionate and compassionate for people. I have a desire to do more than just throw money at a problem. Money will help, don’t get me wrong, but it is not the only thing needed.

Anyway, as I was watching the video I couldn’t help but think of Kenya. I couldn’t help but think of the pure joy that I saw there. Even in places where the people had nothing, like in Kibera. I miss Kenya. I miss the simplicity of it. After I got back to my room tonight, I started going back through my travel journal from Kenya. So many of the things that I read brought a smile to my face. The way that the children raced up to our bus as we pulled into Kibera. The way that the people loved having their picture taken because it was unlike anything they were used to.

As Americans typically do, our group went into the slums with everything planned out. We didn’t know exactly what to expect but we had set up time frames for games, and stories, and crafts. But my favorite day in Kibera involved none of that at all. My favorite day was simple. I remember sitting on the grass surrounded by some of the sweetest children. We weren’t doing anything in particular. Just sitting. And talking. The kids were trying to teach me Kiswahili words that I kept butchering and several of the girls loved playing with my hair because it was so unlike their own. At one point the missionary who was helping my team walked up to me and said, “You are learning to live like a true Kenyan now. Simply.”

So many times I forget that lesson that I learned there. Live simply and rely soley on God. These people did because they have to. I talked to a woman in the slums who said she was sorry for me. I was confused at first, thinking that I should be the one that was sorry for her. When I asked her why her response was, “You have so many things to take your focus off of God. I do not.” And she was absolutely correct. I have so many things in my life to steal my attention. But I want to live simply. I want to live like the Kenyans.

There is a song in Kiswahili that we learned while in Kenya:

Mambo sawa sawa.
Mambo sawa sawa.
Yesu akiwa enzani.
Mambo sawa sawa.

It basically translates to: “Things are already better when the Lord is on the throne.”

Beautifully simple and it is a song that almost every Kenyan knows. Literally. I had it stuck in my head when we were at the local grocery store and was humming it and ended up singing the whole thing with the cash register.

Jesus, teach me to live simply. Remind me that You are on the throne and that is all that matters.

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