Thursday, December 22, 2011

the Girl Card

As a girl, I love pulling the “Girl Card“, and by “Girl Card”, I mean we’re allowed to have a lot of emotions. You can imagine my shock and confusion as I’ve discovered that women here do not express their feelings as freely. It is rare to see them cry, never when the doctor rips off the bandage to their open wound, barely in labor, and not when their child dies. Maybe because they are used to suffering and seeing death so the shock is less? It’s a part of life?

I knew this was cultural but the extent of it can really be seen when doing ob rounds at the hospital. In one bed is a mother (and by mother, I mean 14-20 year old girl) rejoicing over the first child of four that has lived. Next to her is a wife (and by wife, I mean she is the same age as when I started having crushes on boys) grieving over the loss of her baby. But one isn’t smiling more than the other or crying more than the other. So I say rejoicing and grieving because I hope deep down they allow themselves to do that.

On one bed we passed, the doctor told me the mother had a c-section last night for her still born baby. But under her blanket was a tiny child. When I asked the obstetrician why there was still a baby there, she told me how often, as ‘an act of comfort’, the other women whose babies lived will set their child on the no longer mother's bed for awhile. At first, I thought uuuhhh, is that comforting or cruel?

But now I’m thinking what else do these mothers have to give here?? You can’t publicly comfort someone who “isn’t grieving”. You don’t  rub a stranger’s back who isn’t crying or listen to something they‘re not talking about. So instead they quietly lay down what they know to be their own source of comfort.  They give all they have! And in a culture where women aren't supposed to be noticed, I think this woman was smiling bigger knowing someone had noticed her.

That’s on my Christmas wish list!! To be able to see and act on the needs of those who haven‘t broadcasted them! And then give what I got!

Also on my list:
Live on less than I need so I can give way more than I have.
One day have my own child with the same personality as Rachel Stringer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dirty Feet for Christmas!

Dear Jesus,

I washed my feet tonight, which I hate doing because they’re just going to get dirty again (even though the soles of my feet are literally black), and thought of You washing even nastier male feet, knowing they would get dirty again. And I thought about how much humility it would take to serve like that, to get down on hands and knees to do such a simple act, especially when people are watching You and expecting You to do great things.

I saw a cripple in the street today. Dragging his body along the curb with just his arms, begging and covered in dust. He was one of many cripples and many beggars I’ve seen, but I still wanted to close my eyes so that the image wouldn’t be cemented into my mind for days.
...But then I thought there’s no way You would have closed Your eyes. You would have had someone lower him on a mat to You. You would have told him that he was healed. And how it WAS his faith that healed him, because there was no service or good deed he could have physically done.

I came home and my eyes hurt and my throat was sore after just a couple hours of wind blown dust, and I thought about how You were outside in the desert for forty days fasting, just as much human. And You knew Your eyes would hurt and Your skin would burn, but because the Spirit led, You went anyway.

And I wonder if after the twentieth child asking for a “kodo” (gift) passed You, if You still smiled and still said let them come?…and I wonder, if after just seeing Your smile, they felt like they had actually received a “kodo”.  And as I understand a little more of the pressure Martha must have felt in the kitchen, cooking from scratch to feed guests,  I wonder if I would have thought Mary stopping to listen to You was actually more important than my work?

And as I live here, and begin to see how much it really must have stretched that widow to give her only two coins, or realize how protective and loving a shepherd would have to be to pursue one bony sheep when there’s still the never ending flock of 99 going down the road, or glimpse how much You must have treasured people putting there only jackets on the dirt for Your donkey to walk on, the Gospel comes to me with new waves of awe.

SO thanks that even though the Christmas season makes me homesick for my crazy family, I get to celebrate with more insight into what it really means to have “God with us”, starting with my dirty feet.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Redboxes and Big Macs

The past couple weeks I’ve been helping with a Nigerien missionary family while their mother is away... helping the three boys with their homework, making sure they have lunch and dinner, hanging out, whatever they need. Their dad is chief surgeon at the hospital so my logic is that if he goes hungry, then surgeries go bad, then everyone in Niger who needs surgeries dies…pressure’s on (side note: despite being chief surgeon and in a culture where men don’t hang out with their children, this man is an AMAZING father and husband and surgeon, holy SMOKES). Since the boys have been here a couple years and now speak English (their third language) fluently and attend Galmi day school, I sometimes forget that they are from Niger, until certain conversations pop up.

Me: Geez, I feel like a vending machine!!
N: What’s a vending machine?
Me: It’s a machine that gives you snacks and drinks automatically when you put money in it.
E: So where is the person that sells it?
Me: The vending machine sells the stuff and a person can get the money later.
N: So it’s so people stop stealing money.
Me: Sometimes the machine steals my money. But I shake it until the snack comes out.
N: So you feel like a vending machine because you think we’re going to shake you.
Me: No, because I am getting you things without you saying please or thank you.
N: People have vending machines so that you don’t have to be nice all the time.
Me:  No, so you can get snacks more quickly if no is around.
E: So you have vending machines because people are lazy or because people are too hungry to wait?

By the end of the conversation (which took up most of lunch), I no longer know why we have vending machines, and I chose not to mention Redbox.

The main dish here is rice and some kind of sauce. But after two weeks of lots of rice and sauce for dinners, they weren’t sick of it, but I had gotten sick of watching them eat it, so I made cheeseburgers. I should also mention that you usually want to make meat last, so you put it in a spaghetti sauce or something…so even though I had made tiny flat golf ball size cheeseburgers, it came as a shock.

Me: It’s a cheeseburger, you’ve never had a cheeseburger?
D: One time in Senegal.
Me: Do you guys want to put tomatoes on it? In the States, we put ketchup, mustard, and pickles on it.
E: EWWWW, ketchup, mustard, and pickles on your meat!!!
Me: You put it on this bun and then the meat is in between.
D: I don’t want to, my mouth won’t fit around a bun and meat.

I can’t imagine what would happen if I showed them a Big Mac. We had rice and chili the next lunch.