Woo hoo! Today is a rest day, a day of relaxation and catching up on sleep. I have found it quite a shock that here in Mozambique they work on the sun clock rather than the time clock. So because the sun is up at 5am, so are the people, and the day starts a whole lot earlier than I am used to! So a day of not very much was going to be good.
It started with a trip to the local market so that Lisa and I could support the local economy buying alsorts of traditional and local products – well it seemed rude not to! Then we headed to the beach. Pemba is an up and coming tourist trap with Wimby Beach being the hot spot for all tourists wanting a beach encounter. It is well catered by a couple of restaurants complete with beach chairs and palm sun shades. The sand is golden and fine and the water turquoise and clear. After a delicious seafood kebab and an ice-cold drink, I could resist the water no longer and went for a refreshing swim.
After I had come back to dry land and was happily reclining under an umbrella with Lisa, I looked out at the tropical scene before me. And then I thought of all the sights and sounds of the previous few days – starving people, children dressed in rags, people with severe deformities as a result of their leprosy, such poverty and suffering. And here I was in paradise. How could this be the same place? How could there be such luxury so close to such poverty?
It would be easy and perhaps a natural response for me to feel guilty. To feel bad that I’m enjoying such luxuries when people I met hours ago are struggling to survive. To want to stop eating all I have because others have nothing. To resent the fact that I luckily grew up in a wealthy Western country with so many advantages in life, because others were not so lucky. To deny where I come from and give it all up – my relative wealth, possessions, education, privilege etc in order to feel better about myself and more equal to those I’ve met living in poverty.
But to do those things is to reject the gift that I have from God – the gift of being born with a head start. It is to deny all that he has given me and all that I have subsequently achieved and experienced. So perhaps it is about acknowledging the problems there are around the world and seeing the inequality, but not being trapped in a state of inactivity by guilt. But instead it is good to take time to celebrate and enjoy all that we have been given, before using these things to help those without. Just as Pemba is using its tropical beauty to bring investment and a rise in the standard of life to the community, then so we should see own our beauty and how we can positively impact the world because of it.