The blessing of seeing

Posted on March 12, 2010 by Global Mission Support

Not even the ostrich …
A reflection by the Rev. Sam Wolff
ELCA missionary serving in Kenya

When I decided to leave mission work in Africa after more than 20 years, many people asked me, “why?” Initially I had no answer, and so I would reply, “it’s just time.”

A few years later, while serving an international congregation in the heart of Europe, the “why” dawned upon me.  I had left my mission work in Africa, because I was tired of seeing.  I was tired of walking out of my home every day and seeing people dying of AIDS; mired in hopeless poverty; fighting to survive just one more day in urban Africa. I was tired of seeing corruption, tribalism, nepotism, drought and hunger. I was tired of seeing.

Then one day I thought of the ostrich.  Having lived many years in Africa, I’ve seen thousands of ostrich.  Never once, though, did I see one with its head buried in the sand.

That realization brought me up short.   “Who am I,” I wondered, “to try and bury my head and not see”?

I am back doing mission work in Africa.  I see the same problems.  It seems, though,  that I see with different eyes.

I see women sing as they do back-breaking work.  I see children playing soccer on dung heaps with a ball made of banana leaves; they play with all the joys of childhood.  I see my neighbor who has AIDS in its last stages, carry himself with great dignity. I see Africans at worship who care more about adoration than they do about time.  I see some of the most beautiful people in God’s world.

What a privilege, what a blessing, it is to see.


2 Responses to 'The blessing of seeing'

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  1. Judy Bergeson, D.M. said,

    on April 1st, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    What a wonderful story. Thank you for giving me new eyes to see. God’s blessings to you.

  2. Ron Gustafson said,

    on April 17th, 2010 at 7:31 am

    What an awesome story and awakening for us that sometimes start to think “It’s just time”. Your message gives me encouragement to stay closely involved with Selian Lutheran Hospital even though the new hospital is completed, and Likamba Parish in Arusha. THANK YOU!God’s Peace!