Final Night at Iganzo Site

January 26 2010 / ShareHim in Tanzania, Jun. 19 - Jul. 4 '09 #402
by Anna Babcox

Personal Testimony of Anna Babcox.

Dark faces stared back at me. Hundreds of eyes looked back into mine. Tears filled my voice. I didn't know what to say. My laptop was displaying the notes I was supposed to preach. I couldn't give a pre-written sermon, not tonight. I closed the lid and just looked at them. “Tonight, my friends, was going to be about Heaven” Lupakiso translated for me; I paused to think of what to say.

“But I have something much greater to tell you about. There is a heaven, and our father is getting it ready right now. And friends I want to see you there.” Lupa, as I called him, continued for me. “I want to see you there” The tears began to pool in my eyes. I couldn't see them any more. I blinked; two cold tears rolled down my face. The African night air nipped at my cheeks.

“Friends, God sent me to Africa for a reason. At first I thought he sent me here for you. I thought you people needed me. But how wrong I was, I needed you.” Lupa looked at me as he translated, the sweetest smile on his face.

“God sent me to Africa, because, you may not know it, but you people have something very special: Love.” I babbled on, trying to keep myself from falling into a pile of tears. I didn't want to stop preaching. When I was done, that would be it. I would go home, never to see these people again, until the kingdom. I finally stopped; I sat down and just sighed. I couldn't cry anymore. What I now felt was something beyond words. How was I ever going to live in America again? With the coldness, and the barriers we build between others and ourselves. How could I leave? The little children came up to the stage and started hugging us. They weren't going to let us go either. Lupa and the church leaders gave us gifts and thanked us for coming.

They called us, “Sista Anne and Sista Clada.” Clara was the woman who had come with me to Africa. We became like sisters; we had looked and looked for an adult to go with me, and Clara had showed up at the very last minute.

“You will always be welcome to Iganzo, Tanzania. Please take our greetings to your family and your church from us.” I almost cried again. Then our taxi came. It was so hard leaving. Slowly we gathered our things and the village walked us to the beat-up taxi. They didn't let us carry anything. Lupa and pastor Mwanga's wife got into the car with us. The kids just about turned the car over. We had to get out and say goodbye again. Their smiling faces were yelling “Tommardo! Tommardo!” Half weeping Clara and I said “Hapana Kesho”... No tomorrow. They didn't quite understand.

“Wattoto, Hapana Kesho. Quaheri.” Lupa said to them. The little ones started to cry with us. As we got into the car, the choir stopped singing. It was quiet until the entire village began to yell “Quaheri!” one voice, the voice of Africa, saying farewell. As the car pulled out of the site, the little children followed us, singing loudly.
“Lupa, what are they singing? I asked him.

“That is the song sung for the bride when she goes away to be married.” The taxi pulled out onto the main “road.” We rocked and bumped violently over the stony path. The children ran after us, still singing. Finally they stopped and we waved from the car. Suddenly it hit me, we were not going back. The pastor’s wife was sitting next to me. I began to weep, she held me. Here is the American; Americans don't cry, and an African woman holding her. Clara was crying. Pretty soon the entire taxi was crying. We pulled up to hotel late into the night. We all hugged for a long time.

“What time does your bus leave in the morning?” Lupa asked.

“Early, 3:00 A.M.” Clara and I sighed.

“I'll be there.” he said.

“Oh Lupa, you don't have to be there.”

“No, no you need someone there.” he was sure. We were tired, we just smiled and said goodbye anyway.

The hotel shook with people running about. Paul knocked on our door “The bus is here guys. Get up!” We were already awake, we couldn't sleep anyway. Dragging 100 lbs worth of luggage, everyone met in the front of the hotel that had been our home for the past month. Some young African men took our luggage and loaded it into another bus. Then I realized, that was Lupa! Lupakiso Makaswseswe, my translator, and best friend

“Lupa!” I yelled.

“You came!” I ran over and hugged him.

“I said I would be here.” He told me, as if I should not be surprised he had got up at 3:00 A. M to see us off. I hugged him for a long time--crying again. Finally it was time to leave. I was the last to get on. Lupa told me “God Bless you, and your mother, and your travels home. Keep Africa in your heart, I will see you in the kingdom.” He walked us to the bus and we boarded. He stood outside my window and just waited.

As we rolled out, he walked beside us waving and saying goodbye. The bus rolled out of the parking lot, and he let us go. The drive to the airport, the moon shone bright. We all felt Africa was seeing us home, and God was smiling down on us. “Well done my good and faithful servants.”
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