This I Believe

Dan - Holland, Michigan
Entered on December 12, 2007

Where I Least Expected It

Almost two years ago, I was given the chance to travel to Tanzania to study the plant and animal life throughout a three week period. What a beautiful country. I could wake up every morning to fascinating, distinct smell. I could look outside and see miles upon miles in the distance, as there was no smog to ruin the view. I could walk outside of my door and see a small group of zebras walking less than ten feet from myself. And every day I’d walk past the locals, kindly smiling and wondering what it would be like to live their lives.

One day, I was unfortunately late to meet up with the group. I had slept through breakfast, and happened to wake up before everyone was leaving for the day’s safari. I rushed into the dining hall, grabbed a couple of apples and bread rolls, and rushed to meet everyone by the cars. I knew that if I didn’t grab some food, I wouldn’t have energy to get through the day. But when I got into my jeep, I had no idea what lay ahead.

We drove for almost a half of an hour when the driver told us that we were going to stop at a small shop, with several fascinating items that couldn’t be found anywhere else in Tanzania. I was still in the process of waking up, so I stayed in the jeep for a moment while everyone else started going inside. Then I heard some of our drivers yelling in Swahili. I looked to the source, and saw them pushing away a group of about ten children who kept trying to talk to the rest of my team. They kept on putting their hands to their mouths as if they simply wanted something to eat.

I realized that I still had the apples and rolls, so I brought the box out of the car and handed it to the tallest girl, who seemed to be the leader. That’s when the children went crazy. They didn’t just forcefully grab at the food, but they started fights with each other, pushing and even punching each other so they could get closer to this small box of food. Eventually, the girl got everyone to settle down, and began portioning the food to be divided up between her siblings. No child was given more than three or four bites, and these bites seemed to them to be one of the best presents they had ever received. I had wanted some food to bring along so I could have enough energy for the day. I wanted to make sure I could get at least 45 grams of carbohydrates and sufficient amounts of vitamins so my mind and body could fully function for the next several hours. They wanted to survive.

Shocking. Everything I had ever been given, all the love I had ever been shown, and every other luxury that I had ever taken for granted flashed before my eyes. And I looked back at the children who had nothing. Something in my mind immediately changed. And I looked back at the small shop with several fascinating items that couldn’t be found anywhere else in Tanzania. Several of my friends were starting to walk out with different products which they had just bought, none of them noticing this group of children, who were on the edge of death.

For the rest of my time there, I took every opportunity to save my plate of food and give it to someone in need. I never bought anything, giving it to those who needed it more instead. I realized that many of us have been given incredible gifts by God, and those gifts are meant to be shared. God gave me a message, and I truly hope that I am able to send that message to you. This I believe.