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The unexpected knocks

I took this picture one night as I was walking through the village.

For the next three months, I'll live and serve in a remote village in Tanzania about an hour and a half from Mwanza the nearest major city. 

There are no street addresses on the homes and no place to purchase daily essentials - yet far from convenience and away from many distractions, I experienced a beautiful God-sent message from my beautiful neighbors. Two weeks ago, during my first 24 hours in Tanzania, there were several unexpected knocks at my door.

When Tanzanians hear, "Hodi, hodi," which means "Knock, knock" in Swahili, they know that someone is at the door and would like to come in. They do not knock. They say, "Hodi, hodi."

"Karibu" (Welcome) is the proper response, at which point the person at the door takes off his/her shoes and enters the home. 

Hodi, hodi... first, around 10 a.m., a neighbor brought me dishes and came over to invite me to lunch.  Hodi, hodi, another neighbor visited to sell me eggs, because he had heard I needed them. I had just closed my door and was preparing to get in the shower when I heard his knock. Hodi, hodi... just when I began to write my lesson plan that afternoon a young lady from the village wanted to know if I had the key to the principal's house, because she was scheduled to clean it.

In the village of Bulima (and most East-African communities), there is an open-door policy, where neighbors are welcome to join you at any time of the day. I took advantage of this at one point today and dropped in on Mary, who is an administrator at the Bible college where I'm serving and the sweet neighbor who baked me bread as a welcoming gift. After sitting with her for thirty minutes, she walked me around the village and campus and I met some of the students and instructors.

This community-style living where everyone is dependent and welcoming to everyone else and where neighbors embrace interruptions has me thinking a lot about my own life in the States and the North American context to which I am accustomed. 

I asked myself, "Are you available to be interrupted at any time to do the work of the Lord?" This is what all of these people were doing today... serving, being the hands and feet of Jesus in those particular moments.

This was an important lesson for me to contemplate and live through on my first day in my new country. Below, in a short video, are a few other moments from that first week. Watch and let me know your thoughts...

Most importantly, ask yourself: am I willing to answer the "hodi, hodi" from God and allow Him to break up the convenience of my everyday life at any given moment? Am I hospitable even when it's inconvenient?

Upon my arrival here I had to realize that I cannot be an effective missionary or believer without answering "Yes," to that question. Pray for me as I grow in grace in this area! I must surrender control of my own environment, yield to the Lord, and allow Him to lead.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray in the name of Jesus that you touch each reader of this message. Lord, open our hearts and make us more sensitive to your knocks. Make us more available to your call, and make us more helpful and attentive to the needs of your people. Lord, shape our hearts to welcome your children like you welcome us. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. 

1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Romans 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

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