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MUNGU YUPO, a Swahili phrase I hear often in Tanzania, means “God is here.” The people of Tanzania are teaching me that the experience of God is here, now, God in the flesh, present in whatever is happening—Mungu Yupo!

A friend recently asked me, “How do you experience God in Africa?” Let me count the ways:

GOD IS HERE in the small acts of kindnesses
received each day:
• the beautiful morning greeting in Swahili,
“How did you wake up this morning?”
• making room for one more on an already
overcrowded bus
• a young child quietly slipping her hand
in mine as we walk the road together
GOD IS HERE in the five-times-a-day call to prayer from our neighborhood mosque.
GOD IS HERE in the laughing, shouting, playful energy of the children who live all around us.
GOD IS HERE in the woman with a broken spirit, as we sit in silence together, holding her pain.
GOD IS HERE in the courage of the young man who refuses to be defined by his disease.

GOD IS HERE when compassion wells up in me
for the suffering of another.
And YOU? How do you experience God wherever you are in this world?
May we learn together from the wisdom of Africa: MUNGU YUPO! God is here, no matter what is happening.

Judy Walter is a Maryknoll lay missioner who serves at the Lake House of Prayer, a joint ministry of the Archdiocese of Mwanza, Tanzania, and Maryknoll. She and Maryknoll Father Jim Eble give hospitality and provide for the spiritual needs of those who come there seeking rest and spiritual renewal. They offer retreats with spiritual direction and a daily rhythm of prayer and Eucharist to individuals and small groups.

For more on Judy’s ministry, watch this video.

This prayer is from the Fall-Winter 2019 issue of Voices of Compassion.

Photo by Jerry Fleury

Judy Walter
Judy Walter is a spiritual director at the Lake House of Prayer, a retreat ministry in Mwanza, Tanzania.