In my vast experience here on earth, I have found that I function so much better when I have a creative outlet. It’s almost as if being creative is what I was made for, everything else seems peripheral sometimes. Because of this I have often sought jobs that require creativity so that I feel fulfilled. In times when I have had other sorts of jobs I have spent significant time on creative hobbies or projects. It’s not almost impossible to resist but incredibly satisfying when a friend asks, “Can you help me pick the pattern of tile for my kitchen?” Or “would you mind helping me redecorate my bathroom?” It almost makes me ecstatic to help another by solving aesthetic issues in a functional way.
In times when I have not had access to creative tools, I have felt depleted and have even started to decline in basic life functions. So you would think I would have learned by now not to travel anywhere without some tools of the trade. -- Not even to language school for a few months. Initially I didn’t think I would find any way to fulfill my drives for creativity, I forgot to even carry a drawing pad and pencil. Art supplies are often challenging to come by in Africa. If you do find them they are poor quality and high priced. And usually only found in a big city. Fortunately I have been able to find some outlets for this basic ‘need’ here in Morogoro.
I did manage to do a nice drawing of a baobab tree and make a few cards out of it. Admittedly half the ‘fun’ was trying to find cardstock and a place that prints it in town. I also made a friend, Elizabeth, to sew with. We had a great time doing some projects together before her machine blew in a thunderstorm. More recently I borrowed another missionary’s machine to make a couple of handbags made from kitenge – African material.
Quite honestly, being enabled to create like this has allowed me to flourish more than I otherwise would have. I don’t want to use the word survive, I certainly would have survived without being creative, but I would have been far more depleted.
Looking back over the past few months I can see that doing some creative things has helped me face some of the challenges like loneliness and isolation during this time of transition.