The wildlife, however, were unaffected. And as a consequence, a hundred years later, we can probably thank the tsetse fly for the existence of national parks and millions of wild animals. In tact Tanzania has such large expanses of unsettled parkland, and such massive herds of animals, precisely because the tsetse flies infested this country and kept the people at bay. We can glory today in the open vistas, the roaming predators, the grazing herds, because the tsetse fly exists.
I've been thinking about this as a picture for mystery. From the perspective of a Maasai herdsman, or a German settler, the tsetse fly was an unmitigated danger. But from the perspective of a 21rst century lover of nature, it was an instrument of God's gracious preservation of an important ecosystem on our earth.
The problem is, in the midst of the flies, it is hard to see God's mercy at work. And much of our life is spent in the flies. We took a brief stop at a picnic spot on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, to look back down into the bowl from the heights. Luke and Caleb started jumping on some logs. And Caleb fell, on his arm, which had healed with a curve after a severe fracture two years ago. Whether it was the instability of the curve, his rapid growth spurt, or just an unusual angle of his fall, he ended up with significant pain which did not resolve in the next day. So when we went through Arusha, we took a insider's tour of the Lutheran Medical Center by signing in as patients to get an xray. The xray showed a new fracture, a pretty large one considering Caleb's stoic patience. Thankfully we were able to get a diagnosis and a cast. But sadly, this once again puts the biggest draw of RVA, the opportunity to play football (soccer) on a team, probably out of reach. The fracture itself is not a huge deal to Caleb, but the loss of the dream of playing football is crushing to him, and to all of us.
Just like last year when Luke injured his knee at the start of the season, we struggle to see God's mercy in the timing of this suffering. And we may not see it, with our limited grasp of the mysteries of grace. Perhaps in eternity when we look back over life with eyes attuned to the unseen worlds of spiritual reality all around us, it will all make sense. Or perhaps even then we will have to merely gasp at the depth of God's impossible-to-plumb grace.
But the tsetse fly bites seem a small price to pay for the glory of a sauntering giraffe.