Monday, June 16, 2014

5 Things

What I Will Miss About America

1.  Safety

Never once this year did I wake up in the middle of the night, afraid that men with machetes were breaking into my house.

I walked along the road with my purse and not a single fear that someone would drive by and snatch it.

I stopped automatically locking my car doors while I was driving, as I had no fear that someone would try to open them at a stoplight and steal whatever was on the seat.

And should any of those things actually happened in America, I knew that there were police and firemen waiting to help me, not exploit me.

2.  Comfort

The thermostat is a marvelous thing, isn't it?

I love the soft toilet paper in America; I love how the dryer makes my towels nice and soft, instead of crunchy when they are line-dried.

I love how all the roads are paved, and how we didn't have a single flat tire all year.  I love the sidewalks and neatly manicured lawns, and how my feet stay clean on a regular basis.

3.  Convenience

Tortillas are pre-made here.  And pumpkin pie!  And spaghetti sauce!

The meat can be eaten out of the package, it doesn't have to sit in a crock-pot all day to be edible.  I spent about 2/3 less time in the kitchen in America than I do in Africa.  And if I didn't feel like cooking at all?  Well, there's a dozen numbers I could call that will deliver food to my house.

If we're on the road and we need a bathroom?  Bang!  There's a bathroom!

I could pay all my bills without leaving my computer, let alone leave my house.  I could pay for everything with a card and never had to worry about having enough cash.

4.  Kid-Friendliness

Kids' menus--everywhere we went.

Parks, children's museums, book clubs, church activities, basketball, gymnastics....everything a kid could want.  Even the dentist gave them prizes.

Craft stores, shoe stores, clothing stores--all just for kids!

So many options, so many fun ways to make memories.

5.  Capitalism


Innovation everywhere!
The Kindle--a missionary's best friend!  A hard drive big enough to store all our you realize how much luggage space that saves us???

Competition that drives prices down and makes everything so much cheaper than in Africa.

Customer service!  Attentive servers at restaurants, stores that allow you return items, mechanics that fix it when they say they will fix it.

What I Won't Miss About America

1.  Safety

I don't pray as much in America.  I don't depend on God as much.  I forget what true peace feels like.  Yes, I sleep better here.  But there, I am forced to remember my Source of Security.

Here, I struggle with making safety an idol.  If I lived here, would I be afraid to stay in this neighborhood just because it's mostly non-white?  Would I be challenged to live in a hard place?  Would I be challenged to reach out to people who are different than me?

If I lived here, would I let fear keep me from taking risks for God?  I like how Africa challenges me.

2.  Comfort

I am hot in Dar es Salaam, all the time.  I don't have regular electricity.  The toilet paper is scratchy and you can feel the slats beneath my couch cushions.

Sometimes my heart complains.


It toughens me.  It toughens my kids.  It teaches me how to be content in all circumstances.  It teaches me what is really important in life.

I don't agree with the monks from the Middle Ages who intentionally whipped themselves, or wore spikes against their skin, or slept in the cold to gain spirituality.

But I get it.  I get how depriving yourself of comfort draws you closer to God, and I like how it has drawn me closer to God.

3.  Convenience

I like how I have been forced to learn to cook in Africa, and how much I love it.  I like how it's given me a creative outlet.  I'm not motivated to make my own fancy desserts or pesto sauce here.  Why should I?  I have Costco.

I like the discipline I have been forced to develop.  I like how every day things like cereal or chocolate chips become gourmet items, and a can of root beer becomes a Christmas present.

4.  Kid-Friendliness

I won't miss how the expectation in America is that your life revolves around your kids.  I won't miss all the sports practices that take away from family dinners.

I like how in Tanzania, my kids have learned to be more creative.  I love how they spend so much time outside.

There, I like how they learn to appreciate the small things.  How they learn to be grateful; how they learn to have compassion by seeing others who have so much less.

5.  Capitalism

Before coming to the States this year, I had no idea that I had a problem with my pores.  Then Jennifer Aniston told me that I needed to buy Aveeno so that my pores would shrink.  For the first time ever, I looked in the mirror and realized that my pores were huge!!!!

How could I have gone 37 years without realizing this?  Suddenly I was self-conscious about something that had never even crossed my mind.

I find it interesting that in Dar, I am sweaty all the time, I always have my hair back, my clothes are usually faded, and I am often in long skirts....and yet it is America that makes me feel ugly.

As much as I firmly believe that it is the innovation that comes with capitalism that brings people out of poverty, I will not miss the frantic mindset in America to get more, build more, beautify more, travel more, relax more, spend more.

...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
Let it someday be true of me in all things.  


The Ellis Family said...

What a great post! I loved reading that. I am praying about how to "be" and how to guide my children when we go home for a year.

Alison H said...

Agreed. 100%. You're so great at putting things into words. Blessings as y'all travel back!

Lance Lefler said...


Amy said...

Fine, Lance. I fixed it. :p

Lene Malmgaard said...

So true Amy, five reasons that I miss living in Tanzania. Blessings to your family:)

Amanda said...

Love it!

Anonymous said...

what I will miss when you leave, YOU,GIL,and those precious kids.I will miss seeing your smiling faces right in front of me. I will miss not being able to talk to you on a weekly basis and i will miss your insight ..I have learned deeply from you. I find myself actually realizing that although I love America,there are too many distractions and i lose focus on the LORD. In a strange sort of way,When im around you and gil, i feel as if im missing out on what real fellowship with Christ is. A simple life where we learn to lean on Him and not our spoiled lifestyles here in the Usa. something i have pondered over a lot since I have met you. Its a good thing, a very good thing because what it boils down to is this,in the end, HE is all that matters and i am to be content and more appreciative of the things I take for granted and mostly I need to focus more on my total dependancy on HIM. I love JESUS so much but this comfort here often gets in the way.Too much of a good thing isnt good at all.We have too much here.... I love you Amy
<3 Terry Scrivner

Anonymous said...

Amazingg <3

Amy Grace Semelsberger said...

That was a very beautiful post!

Brenda said...

Thank you for your insight. Our vision can become cloudy and dulled here in the land of plenty. It's a blessing and a curse.

Becky P said...

Amy, you have such a gift to put things into words. All these things swirl around inside me & here you've succinctly said them. Love you sister. And may your transition back home be smooth.

Amy said...

thanks for your encouragement, friends!

Wilkensfam said...

Yes. Thanks for posting this!

Deb Hildebrand said...

Wow, Amy, Lauren was right. You have a gift with words. Every time I read one of your posts that she sends me, I end up in tears. During her visit here, she commented on each of the things that you touched on. Of course it is difficult for us to fully understand, having always lived in the states. I am so glad that she will have you back in Tanzania with her. I guess the good thing is that friends can be found in both places!

Debby Jones said...

Beautifully convicting! And it's true.....not what was expected!

Megan @ SimplyThrifty said...

Good thoughts Amy. Thanks for sharing them so eloquently. Praying God's blessing on your new ministries as you head back to Tanzania.

Danielle said...

I'm so glad you linked up at Velvet Ashes! And I love how much of this was so relatable even though I'm in big city Asia, not Africa. I had to laugh, because I just gave my husband a can of root beer for an anniversary gift. :)

Right there with you praying for contentment in all things!