How I Became a MasaiAdd Comment
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After a long day at school, what do you like to do? Watch TV, check your Facebook, or maybe play Xbox with your friends?Add Comment
For a long time I loved to watch TV and play video games. After school the TV was always on, like a routine. I would go into the living room and head straight for the remote. I wanted to be a couch potato and forget about life.
Am I alone?
Reclining on the sofa, I watch my friends play Halo. “Hey, you guys, my dad is so annoying lately!” I vent, trying to get support.
“Yeah, that’s dumb,” they grunt back—half listening, half playing the game.
Why won’t they listen? I want comfort. I feel alone. Who will be there for me? My parents sure aren’t, and not even my friends.
“Hey, Cassi, it’s your turn.” I take the controller and forget my thoughts.
Starting to understand
Looking back, I realize how I sought comfort in the wrong places. Television characters had become my best friends. Was it healthy to be more committed to a TV set than to real people who cared about me? Had I known more about SpongeBob . . . than I knew about Jesus?
Later I took a trip to Africa. I learned the truth about what’s important: healthy relationships with other people and my Creator. Here’s how it happened.
Kenya! I’m finally here. Riding atop the blue 4x4, I see my new home in the distance, edging closer and closer. As we pull up to the circle of dung huts, it strikes me: This is real. The slender Masai people excitedly surround me as I greet them. “Sopa,” I say, which means hello.
Scanning the area, I notice that the place seems empty. Lots of people, a couple huts, zebras in the distance, but that’s it. No skyscrapers, no shopping malls. Will I grow bored without electricity for a week? I’ll let God take me on His adventure. Here we go!
Two days have passed. I’m bored. I miss the Internet and my TV shows. Technology is part of everything I do at home. No TV here fills the silence or empty time slots. I’m always in the company of others, simply sitting, talking, and working together. That doesn’t sound too bad, right?
Today is the third day; I’m opening up. Their commitment to one another is inspiring. The women in the village were planting vegetables today, and Pastor Solomon volunteered to help, expecting nothing back. He put his own plans on hold to help the community.
They have meals together here. The men leave the field to eat a hot cooked meal, usually gritty ugali and fresh milk. Today they talk as a family, making jokes and encouraging one another. The usual. Sipping cocoa, I listen intently, picking out the words I know. I’m refreshed by the atmosphere, and I can feel the strong, family bond. This thought tugs at my heart. I wish my family were like them. My family is always too busy to spend time together.
The Masai seem happier and healthier than a lot of people I know, including myself! That thought puzzles me. Relationships are the center of Masai culture. This must be the answer!
Interrupting my thoughts, I hear my name. “Cassi, we have a new name for you.” Solomae speaks through my translator. “Nashipae, which means joy. You are beautiful and full of happiness. We’re sad that you must leave, but please know you can always come back. You are our sister, a Masai.” I feel ecstatic! This acceptance to rely on each other means life or death for them. Honored, I accept the responsibility. It means the world to me.
What if I had been able to escape with a computer or TV? This experience may never have happened. How can God use me to reach others if I don’t spend quality time with them?
At home, I’m appreciating the warmth of family. Quality time with them is a blessing. As a whole, we are healing and becoming stronger. It takes effort but it’s worth it. Instead of watching movies with my friends, we do outreach and Bible studies. To me, it’s like we’re a little group of Masai in America.
Relationships cannot be replaced by cold, dead technology. It doesn’t even sound charming, let alone healthy for our souls. We need one another. God created us to be a loving community. Scripture shows this clearly in Hebrews 10:24, 25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (NIV).* Opening up to others is healthy for our growth in God; we yearn for it. We long to have someone who listens.
Since Africa, God has been changing me. Instead of zoning into technology, I am tuning in to God. It has taken commitment to connect with Him, but when I spend time with Jesus, I feel complete. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. God has filled the void in my heart. He can do the same for you.
*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Cassi Fitzpatrick, who spent a year as a student missionary in Kenya (teaching second through eighth grades), is a journalism and religion student in Nebraska. Africa is her passion, along with photography and writing.
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