Thursday, May 05, 2011

Tears Don't Translate

Sunday morning I woke up from a deep but short sleep in my new mud & grass house in Gasmalla... The day was new and full of promise and the village outside was alive and bustling.

I had not gotten much more accomplished than getting dressed, eating a little breakfast, and washing my face before I saw my friend Baria headed pointedly toward my house with something in hand... I re-arranged my chair and stool and when she came in I told her to sit – happy, because this was her first visit to my new little house! But, there was something wrong, I could see it on her face – she was serious and had come for something specific... in her hand she was holding the pictures I had given out yesterday from those I had gotten developed during my last time in Nairobi...

I knew almost instantly what was wrong.

“Katta” she started... “I have come to speak with you about these pictures... There is a problem. Look at this picture, is it good?” I remained silent because in my mind, it was a very wonderful picture – of her son and another little boy – the clarity of the photo and their smiles make it actually one of my very favorite that I’ve taken recently... but I knew she was not thinking the same as me. “Katta, look at Samson’s nose... why did you take this picture – it looks like he has no mother. It makes my heart very angry because everyone saw this picture and laughed... to Mabaan, it looks like he has no mother that cares for him, if he’s running around with a runny nose...” My heart was breaking... “ Oh Baria” I said, “people don’t think that... I’m so sorry, you are a wonderful mother.” “Katta this made me angry and I wanted to come and talk to you about it, because you are part of us. When the children come and want you to take their picture and you see this, please, tell them to wipe their noses! When people from your country see this picture they will laugh – what will they think of us?” “Oh Baria, children are like this all over the world – people in my country will not laugh... but you are right. I did not think, when I took this picture. Please forgive me, next time I will do better.”

After this interaction I sat in my little house, tears streaming down my face... but not for the reason you might think. Sure, my heart was heavy because I’d caused my friend pain and a restless night, sure I was ashamed and wondering if everyone in the village thought I had done something wrong by taking this picture... But mostly my heart was blessed. Moments like this I swear it’s like someone has ‘stirred up’ the nearby pot of Eternity and it’s fragrance is released on the wind for a few seconds... you get a glimpse of what is yet to come b/c moments like this I am sure bless the Lord’s heart when His children work out what it means to follow Him well... I do not know if the reasons in Baria’s heart for coming to me were out of Biblical motivation – probably not (since Scripture is not well known to her or any of the women yet), but the truth of it is, what she did was entirely Biblical, and such a blessing to my heart. To think that our relationship was strong enough that she would choose to come to me, to confront me even, and to do it just the two of us (she didn’t bring anyone to translate) made me so proud and humbled me completely. I so love these women – well the whole village really – but they are just so special, and I would hate to do anything to hurt them... But how beautiful is it, truly, when something unfortunate and accidental does occur , that someone can come directly to you and deal with it... Oh, what a blessing to my heart – would that this would happen in all cultures, in all churches, amongst us all in the Body of Christ.

I sat there contemplating all these things and feeling the depth of the immense privilege it is to live and serve the Lord among these people, tears coursing down my face, and I realized that Ama – my Mabaan mom, was now headed pointedly toward my house... and she wasn’t smiling either... Oh oh...

I wiped my face quickly because I knew that she’d be worried if she saw tears and welcomed my second visitor of the morning! Ama had no more than sat down before spouting, “Katta Baria is not good – she should not have come to you like that... You have done nothing wrong. What did she say to you?” I told Ama that I thought Baria’s words were very good – I told her what she said, and then asked her why it was bad that she came to me? “Katta the children come to you all the time for you to take their picture... they’re always dirty and have runny noses... what are you supposed to do, sent them home to get clean before you take their picture!? Baria should not be upset with you... children are like this and your pictures are good...” At this point – my already mushy heart started feeling especially tender towards this women, who, in all honestly I don’t often connect with, was coming to my defence and being very protective of me... tears were threatening (yet again) and I was desperately trying to keep them at bay... “Katta you are here with us under me, and under James – I am your mother, and he your father... if you did something not good we would tell you. She cannot come to you like this – you are part of us. Do not worry Katta, James is coming home tonight (he was on trip to a village church a 6 hour walk away) and we’ll fix this then... Katta – don’t cry! You can’t cry like this... See? Her words were not good – you are crying – ahhhhh, Katta.” As you can tell, the tap was already on, and I couldn’t stop it. :) The other thing I couldn’t do was explain that I was actually crying because I was feeling so entirely loved and cared for that my heart was overflowing... I was a little hurting because I was causing the village grief and tension, but mostly I was just mushy – but I couldn’t explain it! I just kept saying, “Ama, I’m ok – her words were not bad, they were true... really I’m ok, don’t worry about my tears, I’m fine.”

Ama left with a rather distraught look on her face and marched over to my neighbour's house, Tia and Yohanna – who were working outside... from inside my house I could sense what was about to occur and started giggling because I knew that the whole scenario was unavoidable at this point.... “Baria went to Katta and said bad words and now she is crying inside her house!” Oh no... :)

I wiped off my face with a cold cloth and tried to remove the evidence before more drama evolved and decided to go sit outside and read my Bible so people wouldn’t think I was in a heap in my house! But Ama re-appeared... “Katta, give me your bucket and let me go fetch you water for a bath...” “No, Ama, I’m ok – I just showered last night, I’m clean!” “Ah, Katta, your crying and my heart is not feeling good because of it” – I had never seen this look on Ama’s face before... she didn’t know what to do with me and her first reaction was to serve me and try to make the whole situation better... I had so much love in my heart for this lady at this moment – I had no idea she cared so much... she is not an easy lady to read...

So, I perched myself on my little Mabaan stool just outside my house door, took a deep breath to clear my head and opened up my Bible... Within seconds my good friend Joseph had walked over from his house and sad down... “Katta, I heard you were upset, what did Baria say...?” (Joseph is one of our CHW’s working with the Water Project, speaks English, and is very much like a brother to me here in Sudan). Joseph and I weren’t talking long before two of my uncles, the church elders, were on their way over... Joseph gave up his seat for Daaud, and Yohanna plunked himself down on the dirt (this in itself was an act or demonstration of love because unless there is a mat or unless they are in their fields working – I’ve never seen a man sit straight on the ground – clearly Yohanna thought this situation serious enough to not worry about a chair at all). Daaud started “Katta, Baria came to you, and we are not happy – what did she say?” I endeavoured to explain yet again that her words were not bad and that I was very happy she had come to me with the problem... “but Katta, for us, she should not have done this thing... you bring wonderful pictures to us – you take them of our children, go to Nairobi and spend money to bring them back to us... this is a good thing... she is upset because we laughed at the picture – the fault is not yours but ours. Katta, we don’t want you feeling bad like this, you’ve done nothing wrong. We want you to sit well among us...” I just couldn’t handle all the love and affection – of course, tears spilled over yet again (Katta get a grip!!!)...

I managed to keep myself together through church (it was just one of those days that a good song could have set me crying again and then I’d have the whole church worried!!), and by the afternoon was convinced that my tears had dried up (probably had something to do with the 110F degree weather and my dehydration level :) ). I was sitting under a tree with Ama (who was washing clothes) and Falita, when Baria came over and brought all the fixin’s for making coffee... I was wondering if she felt the need to give out a peace offering since clearly most of the village had disagreed with her and was miffed... I made the conscious decision to move my stool over and start helping Baria with the coffee making process... once the beans were roasted and cooled, I picked up the pestle and mortar and started to grind the beans. Baria and I continued to make coffee together for all the ladies, and it was lovely. I wanted everyone to see (by now surely EVERYONE knew what had happened in the morning – for NOTHING is a secret in the village :)) that Baria and I were ok – our relationship had not been affected – she had forgiven me for causing her heart grief, and I was not upset or hurting because she came to me and expressed herself. I have no idea if any of the ladies noticed or if they realized that I was trying to make a point, and was being intentional at reaching out and bridging the gap... But I pray they could smell that sweet aroma of Eternity being stirred up for a brief moment, as the Kingdom of Heaven grew in my heart, and I pray, in their hearts as well...

... but in case you ever wondered... tears do not translate :)


righthere.rightnow. said...

Loved this post friend... I could picture it unfolding through your words!

The Essons said...

BEAUTIFUL story Chris and a BEAUTIFUL picture! Love you!

Janna said...

oh how wonderful. :) how deeply you must feel you are loved in Gasmala. please write me. to read makes me feel like i am back there with you.

Philemon Daud said...

Great testimony, continue to serve among Mabaan community, I know in our Mabaan culture is hard if you see people laugh at your child, may God help you. send me some pictures, I'm from Mabaan lives in Kitchener Canada.


Anonymous said...

A great story....when i read this...i feel like im still there hm....God Bless you and continued what you are doing...I appriated it!

تسويق الكترونى said...

شركة وايت شفط الصرف الصحى
شركة شراء الاثاث المستعمل
شركة تنظيف سجاد بالرياض
شركة تنظيف بالدمام
شركة مكافحة حشرات بجازان
شركة عزل اسطح بالرياض
شركة تنظيف بالجبيل

تسويق الكترونى said...

شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
شركة تخزين عفش بالرياض
شركة تنظيف بالرياض
شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض
شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض
شركة تنظيف مجالس بالرياض
شركة تنظيف واجهات بالرياض
شركة تنظيف خزانات المياه بالرياض
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض

Jackpot Series said...


عبده العمراوى said...

شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالاحساء

شركة ضي الرحمن للخدمات المنزلية said...

شركه عزل اسطح بالدمام