One Year Later


Tiff Mau photoMy name is Tiff Mau, and I went on the 30 Hour Famine Study Tour to Zambia in 2012

It has almost been a year since I came home from one of the most mind-blowing and eye opening trip of my lifetime. One week after the trip I was back in high school desperately trying to share with everyone some of the amazing stories and people that I encountered in Africa. Of course, not everyone understood the magnitude of the things I saw nor cared for people halfway across the world. The lack of enthusiasm and interest shown from my friends and family discouraged me greatly. There is a whole other world out there with real people who have life and death problems. But my constant sharing was met with mediocre responses like, “Oh, that’s cool” or “That’s interesting.”

My initial eagerness faded as I quickly assimilated back into life as a senior, stressing about AP classes and college apps. The 10 days of amazing and inspiring God encounters and humbling experiences were overshadowed by the demands of high school.

Pre-Zambia, I was just another eager teenager who thought being a Christian was a breeze. God is good right? But post-Zambia, I found I had more doubts and questions about God and Christianity. To be honest, my faith faced quite a number of stumbling blocks because God’s love did not make sense. Over the past year I became emotionally and spiritually depressed. I did not understand why God brought me to Zambia and make me fall in love with the country and its people. I did not understand my place at home and school, I felt uncomfortable and a stranger to my own church because something about Africa changed me yet, I couldn’t diagnose figure out exactly what that change was. I felt alone and isolated because no one understood me and how what I had seen in those 10 days impacted me.

However during one lecture in government class, my teacher brought up American citizenship rights. Society has changed since WWII times and the generation today often lacks humility and gratefulness.

Then my teacher asked, “How often do we take the time to appreciate the clean water that we have in the shower? Some people in the world don’t even have clean water.” At these words I was instantly brought back to the desolate village in Africa where 30 families went years without clean water. All the memories of that teary-eyed Chief Woman and the smiling faces of the emaciated kids overwhelmed me. My classmates were calm as I walked out of that class bawling.

It is a lot easier than it seems it should be to forget an experience as powerful as my Study Tour trip to Zambia, because we’re surrounded by a world that often doesn’t seem to care about starving and dying children. That moment of vulnerability reminded me of lessons I learned in Zambia. I realized that I had been narrow minded and very stubbornly focused on sharing my experiences and trying to change the world as if everybody in my world had gone to Africa with me. But now that I take a step back I recognize that God did not intend me for to revolutionize my school and my family and transform everyone into warriors of hunger.  The greatest change was in me. My frustration revealed that I had a great passion for those who struggle with hunger.

This trip empowered me to become more knowledgeable of the world. I am still growing and trying to understand Christ, but the Study Tour has shaped me to become more tolerant, patient, and most importantly humble. I still have no idea where God wants me to be, but I do know that I want to continue serving the poor and fighting social injustice. I could not express the insurmountable amount of gratitude that I have towards my teammates who kept me accountable and sane in my moments of vulnerability and depression.

Without a doubt the trip changed me to better love God, and how to better love people who range from the poorest of the poor to the spoiled rich kids here at home. It has been a year since I went on the Study Tour and now 30 Hour Famine is prepping for Team Ethiopia. Despite my jealously, I am beyond excited for the things these new batch of students will see and how they will learn to become a family. Most importantly, I am excited to see how God changes them and the impact the trip will have in their own lives.

My pre-Zambia perspective: “God is good” was defined merely as “Jesus is one cool dude for dying on the cross.” But my post-Zambia perspective is: “God is good” means that God is bigger than anything I can imagine; God defies all my own plans to take me out of my comfort zone just to reveal a small bit of his awesomeness. The Study Tour gave me the skills and experience needed to change the world, I just have to trust in God and change the world one step at a time, starting from myself. In the end, God is good, right?