A Squeaky Wheel Kind of Day

The shopping cart I chose today had a squeaky wheel. A very squeaky wheel. The kind that screeches and whines down every aisle. The kind that leaves every single person in the store with a piercing migraine. And yes, of all the carts available, I chose the one with the squeaky wheel.

This afternoon just seemed like “one of those days.” Or maybe it was just a continuation of the ongoing saga of my lack of an ATM card in-country. Moving into an unfurnished home requires a number of large purchases, and I was glad to hear that Game, one of the stores here in Dar, accepted credit cards (something very unusual here), thus reducing the amount of cash that I would need to borrow from friends until I was able to get an ATM card here. So this afternoon, I entered Game, list in hand, and piled items high in the cart. When I reached the checkout counter, I had a refrigerator and the majority of the items needed to stock my kitchen–a bill reaching into the hundreds of thousands…of shillings. And don’t think seeing that many zeroes on a price tag isn’t shocking. It is. And then my credit card wouldn’t go through. Ugh. What. Now.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), it wasn’t just my card. It was all four cards that they ran. The rarely used credit card system was down. Jason ran to the ATM next door to withdraw cash for me to use, and I retreated to a nearby couch with my cart and the other ladies. Why me? Why today? Ugh.

When Jason returned with the necessary cash, we got back in line and paid for the tangible items in cash before ringing up the refrigerator (it is policy to put large appliance purchases on a separate transaction). He jokingly asked me if I always caused this many problems. Hmm. Maybe. 😉 With the refrigerator, I asked to try my card one last time, praying desperately as the employee swiped my card…and it worked!

When we left the store (and my squeaky wheel) behind, I got out my phone to find a message that my parents back at home had worked out a solution to get an ATM card to me within two weeks. Hallelujah!

It is tempting to complain about the various difficulties I’ve experienced since arriving in Tanzania, from squeaky wheels, illnesses, to absent ATM cards. But in all honesty, that wouldn’t even be fair. When I count my blessings, they add up to an innumerable measure of God’s provision, protection, and perfect love. For example, with the ATM card issue, I accidentally (clearly, God was in control) overpaid my rent by $600, meaning that my landlords were able to withdraw that amount for me in cash to use for these necessary start-up purchases. Or, when I got sick with strep, two different families just happened to have the same antibiotic that they freely gave so that I could recover quickly. Or the many friends that I’ve made already. Or the patient and kind Tanzanians who have helped me with language, taken me for a tour of my surroundings here in Dar, and welcomed me into their world.

No, I can’t complain. In fact, next time I get the shopping cart with the squeaky wheel, I might just think back on my time here in Tanzania and praise God for His goodness!

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