Wearily, I trudged up the stairs of Tanzania’s visa building. Making a futile attempt to brush the dust off my suit from the 18 hour bus ride, I arrived at room 211. The sign said, “Mr. Kanga.” my heart sank as I entered the waiting room and saw twelve Tanzanians also waiting. Time was so tight. My dad was so sick and if I missed this flight, I knew I would never see him again.
The inner door thundered open. A man came storming out grumbling about having to go across town. One of the waiting women mused, “Today everyone has to go somewhere else.” Another grumbled, “Normally we can just wait while they sort problems out.” “Another uncompromising petty bureaucrat,” I thought. I was fit to be tied with all today’s nitpicking rules.
Inside the office was a true Bwana Kubwa, a big man. His tie jogged across the large expanse of his belly as he ordered some underlings out on errands. He mopped the sweat off his brow. He looked flushed despite his skin being darker than the usual Tanzanian’s skin. Suddenly, he noticed my pale skin and his face transformed. As he motioned for the two men to leave, the anger seeped out and was replaced by a broad smile. Picking me over the other twelve people, he asked, “How may I help you?”
Feeling, finally something is going right, I responded, “Last week’s bus broke down so now I have only one day to file all the exit clearance papers to fly to America tomorrow. This time there is seems more to process than usual. Mama Mwuzi said that you must help me first before I can have the rest signed.”
Mr. Kanga smiled his answer, “Show me these papers, I am sure we can take care of everything.” As he looked through the papers, though, his face fell. “I am sorry, he muttered, but you will need two passport photos.”
“What?” I cried, “My father is very sick, and I need to get on tomorrow’s flight.”
“My greatest regrets,” he sympathized but more forcefully, “You must go get these two photos.”
“I argued, “Surely you can make an ex …”
“No!” he interrupted very sternly, “you must go, now.” He got up and fussily escorted me out of the room.
I stormed the two blocks to the store. I banged into the photo shop and demanded quick service. A rather tall thin man wearing the cap of a Muslim who has done the pilgrimage to Mecca took me to the back. As he prepared me and the camera for the task, I muttered about my problems. Learning that I was a Missionary, he smiled. Since development took an hour back then, Mr. Ali gave me a cup of tea while one of his workers processed the photos. He waxed eloquent, telling me about the superiority of Allah, who would have surely gotten all the paperwork finished today.
Suddenly we were startled to hear a loud roar and see his front window crack. We saw people running so we peaked out. The Government building I had just been in had exploded and was burning. There was nothing we could do to help so we stood and watched. The store owner said, “I am glad my cousin, Mr. Kanga, was gone in the country.”
“Oh no, is he in room 211?” I exclaimed, “A Mr. Kanga in that room is the man who sent me out.”
Mr. Ali looked startled, “I just talked to him on the phone this morning, he couldn’t be here. He locked his office and does not allowed anyone in room 211. Here is his photo.” The photo was of a thin gentleman.
I cried, “That is not the man I talked to, I must have been talking to an Angel.” I fell on my knees and prayed, “Oh God, I have fought your will and complained all day. Forgive me and thank you for sending the Angel to remove me from the building. You truly watch your children while they sleep.”
I remained kneeling, hanging my head in shame. Thus it startled me to hear loud crying. Turning, I saw it was Mr. Ali weeping. “Your God protected you even while you were upset with him. He is truly powerful and I too have been fighting Him. Please tell me more.” Very humbled, I watched a new brother enter the Kingdom. Also, despite my fears, my father recovered. God is wonderful.
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