Sunday, December 26, 2010
It's the day of the journey and I need to give a huge THANK YOU to all who have supported the mission this year - this truly could not have been done without you and I cannot express my immense gratitude toward all who have contributed funds, those who have contributed their well wishes, prayers, emotional support, interest, insight, care; you are what keeps this going strong, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you've done. We are planting seeds to improve lives, and we are seeking and living out a fruitful growth for others. Sometimes, it's true, the world just needs a little nourishment, guidance, understanding in order to grow on its own - and I am floored by the number of gracious hearts I've come into contact with, encouraging that fruitful growth with your choice to give. It's a beautiful blessing and you blow me away.
A very special thank you to each of the following:
Gary and Lisa Stewart
Steven and Beth Toth
Steven G.M. Stein
David and Judy Lam
Michael and Char Seminatore
Nick and Leanne Tozzi
Paula and Robert Chess
Paul and Collette Prokopius
Glenn and Trina Hasman
Marc and Rhonda Wien
I look forward to sharing the experiences with you and will be giving it my all. I'm very thankful for all we've been able to accomplish this year and am eager to make strong, fruitful, intelligent decisions to see what more we can do in the future! Your desire to learn and your openness to give is vital in life and I thank you so much for that. Together, we can do great things. If there's one thing I've come to very much value this past year, it is the positivity of what can be done when we work together.
Happy Holidays, everyone. Please have a safe and Happy New Year! I appreciate your prayers as I head off and will look forward to sharing all I learn upon my return. If I can update from Africa, I will, but in the mean time, take care of yourselves - stay open, stay happy :) Pay it forward. To all who've reached out to help others this holiday season, thank you. No matter where it is, or what it is, it's important and it's a great thing.
Posted by Britni Tozzi at 8:10 AM
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sometimes we forget that something as simple as the sunrise is a miracle; another chance to see the world anew. In Maasai land, the traditional sheets worn around their bodies (called shúkà) are even more beautiful by day. A kaleidoscope of rich vibrant color folded throughout the land. It is truly breathtaking and makes you even more thankful that this culture has chosen to maintain its traditional customs in so many ways. In a world where we're seeking the fastest and newest, they're choosing the oldest. There's something to be said for getting back to basics. Much beauty to be found there. I'm thankful to have seen a great sense of contentment and liberty in simplicity.The Maasai community is often patriarchal and sometimes, but not always, polygamous. Many have a chief, or Laibon, which is a spiritual leader. Below is the chief of this village whom we had the great pleasure of greeting. As a gift for welcoming us into the community, we brought sugar and flour. I'd like to "borrow a cup of sugar" from these guys everyday. ;) In the middle of the night, it had begun to rain and a man came to take us from our tents to a school building where we could stay dry. "Who is this?" I had asked my friend. "He is the chief's son." he explained. I thought I had met about 6 or 7 of them already. It is not unusual for them to have several wives and therefore many children. Although, a good Maasai friend of mine has wishes to marry only one woman. Another great point that labels on any society or community cannot always be followed.And I awoke in the morning to the sound of a young boy shouting in the distance. Herding cattle. Cattle are incredibly important to the Maasai lifestyle. Traditionally, they would attempt to live off the cattle alone - meat, milk, sometimes the blood, but today it is not unlikely for them to also grow crops and exchange food and goods with other people, etc. Over time, with colonial progression and developments in government, the Maasai have been restricted from certain parts of the land due to governmental projects, the acquisition of private property and farming, and wildlife parks. This has caused a great stress on the Maasai, but many are still pursuing, maintaining and appreciating their traditional customs. They are, indeed, quite peaceful after all. In my time there, it was my impression that the Maasai live quite graciously off the land and have a deep respect for the world around them. It is an inspiration to me, to value what God has already put on the earth, and to use it purposefully and respectfully.
On that note, their homes, called enkaji, are made beautifully from sticks, grass, cow droppings, soil and sometimes ash.
And meet my husband! No, I kid. I kid. ;) He had asked for me to join him over by the chief so that we could marry. I jokingly said yes before learning it's no joke at all. Lesson learned. It's not unusual to marry at a very young age in this culture. His hair was incredible. Traditionally, the Maasai with longer hair were/are the warriors of the tribe. Not a bad choice for a "husband," eh?
Next up: My thank you letter to you all - the recent contributors toward the next Nairobi mission; the children's food program; all the amazing supporters - followed by a year in review. You can change a life forever by slightly altering your own, and you are. I cannot express my immense gratitude toward all who've reached out and made a difference. Thank you for being here; God bless and Happy Holidays!
Thank you, Seth Arkin, for this gracious article: Role of a Lifetime: Heading Back to Africa
Posted by Britni Tozzi at 10:52 PM