When I take a serious look at myself, I can honestly say that I am a person of pride. I also have this tendency to like to think that I am in control of a lot of things in my life, and I admit that it is not always easy to ask for help.
Well, throughout the course of the 10 months I was in Tanzania, I was constantly challenged, put in a position of humility and had to learn to rely on God for His provisions.
Nothing in Tanzania comes without work, and I mean nothing. As a society, Tanzanians very much live in community with one another and often rely on each other for support spiritually, financially and just in meeting basic needs. They truly have the mindset that “it takes a village,” and without the village, many would not survive.
In 2 Corinthians 12:8–9 the Apostle Paul says to the people of Corinth, “But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
This verse reminded me each day that I could not make it in Tanzania on my own. I had to be humble and submit daily — not only to God, but also to these beautiful people who called me mwalimu (teacher).
Every drop of water I used, whether it was for cooking, washing dishes, clothes or bathing, had to be fetched. Every. Single. Drop. I quickly realized that while I may be strong at home in taking care of myself, I was completely weak when it came to carrying 5–10 gallon buckets of water. Many times I would struggle to carry water back to my room. Often, students would come and offer to help fetch it and carry it back for me.
I also had to learn how to start fire so that I could cook, keep warm during the winter months and heat water for my bath. I eventually mastered the art of bathing out of a five-gallon bucket.
Washing clothes was something I was terrible at, as you have to use the inside of your wrist as your washboard. While I tried and tried, my students patiently — and usually with a laugh — would tell me I was not doing it right and then offer to do it for me. Setting aside one’s pride and humbling yourself so that others can take care of you was very uncomfortable but also very necessary, for without their constant help and kind, gracious spirits, I would have never survived.
As a teacher in my village, I was paid 247,000 shillings a month, which was exactly the same a Tanzania teacher made. This is equivalent to approximately $114 US dollars. Initially, I was very concerned that I would not have enough to not only take care of myself, but to also be able to bless others at my school and in my village.
Month after month, I would budget to give away about half of my money and usually ended up giving away more. I always worried that I would never have enough by the end, but I continually relied on God to take care of me. In situation after situation, He did just that!
In those times when money was low and payday was still days away, various gifts always managed to come my way. Sometimes it was a bag of avocados from my students. Sometimes it was maize or meat that was prepared and then shared with me. Sometimes there was a celebration, and so I got to not only have a free meal but also a soda!
Every time I turned around, God was giving me these little gifts, reminding me that He always takes care of His people. He always provided exactly what I needed and when I needed it. My needs were always met, I was constantly able to bless others and God was glorified in the process. I think that was really the point to begin with.
Humility and relying on God’s provisions definitely do not come naturally to me. I had to make an effort to be humble and to rely on Him each day. While I am still a work in progress, He continually showed me that when I set aside my pride and my need to control life, He will bless me in more ways than I could expect or imagine. It may not always be in the way I plan it, but it is always sufficient.
Amanda Davis taught with Village Schools International from September 2015 to June 2016. This story first originally appeared in The Point, August & September 2016 edition, issue 11.