I should be doing school work right now but somehow my mind has justified that this type of activity is productive procrastination (if there is such a thing).
I appreciate the diversity of people in America. I just spent 14 months in South Korea, I loved my time there and made great friends in the process. But the fact that it is very mono-cultural and mono-ethnic (a word not in the dictionary, I just made it up, definition should be self explanatory) was sort of uncomfortable for me. In college I majored in Intercultural Studies, that plus my background should show why I am such a fan of diversity. All this to say: I am proud the U.S. has such a diverse group of people running for president. Hillary Clinton a woman, granted I would rather run up hill in the snow, naked, through briars, while listening to country western music than vote for her, but that's only because it's her, not because she is a woman. John McCain a POW veteran who has served his country for nearly his entire adult life. Barak Obama a young, racially mixed American who represents how far people in this country have come in the struggle for equality. Plus he is half Kenyan...if only he was pro-life! Finally we come to my favorite, Mike Huckabee, an ordained baptist minister who attended seminary at Southwestern. What's not to like about this guy? The previous post shows he has a great sense of humor. Anyway. Way to go America! I appreciate the diversity.
Some may have seen this already but for those who haven't listen to the fantastic answer given in defense of a Creator God. This is exactly what 1 Peter 3:15 asks of believers.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
I encourage you to take a minute and go to the blog of a friend of mine. Sarah and I graduated from RVA together and I have followed her story since then through facebook and her blog. She and her son are in severe need of our prayers. Read the latest post (February 21, 2008) and you will understand why. It is also interesting to notice that the post from February 18th was written by her husband who at one time considered coming to Southeastern to study. Anyways. Please pray for Sarah and her baby boy.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Mary, my sister, wrote this the other day for one of her classes at Union University. I thought it was funny.
My Mother was inconsolable. She had just gotten back from America last night and the jet-lag had kept her from being able to talk for long. She was curled up in bed wearing her old ratty looking pink night gown and cradling a box of kleenex to her chest when I crept silently into her room the next morning. I stopped and stared at her; I couldn't recall ever seeing her this upset before. When my Mother cries her eyes turn red and she hiccoughs a bit while blowing her nose, and that's usually the extent of it. Peering at her from over the side of the bed I could hardly recognize the woman balled up on her side in front of me. Her hair, which was usually extremely fine and soft, and always clean, seemed to be experiencing its' first natural disaster. The left side of her hair was slightly matted due to the constant stream of salt water pouring from both eyes and running in tiny rivers until they were soaked up into either the soggy hair or her now mildewing pillow. The hair on the right side of her head, stuck up in chaotic wings of fluff as if celebrating it's good fortune in having grown on higher ground and escaping the flood. The skin around her eyes and cheeks had turned a bluish red color; I assumed red from the crying and blue from the amount of times she had wiped her eyes bruising them in the process. The area that needed the most attention, in my opinion, was her nose; with its' tender raw skin beginning to peel back and a string of crystalizing snot around the openings that actually blinded me when it caught the light. The rest of her skin was pale and clammy however, and I noticed her hands were shaking from the exhaustion of her grief when she selected another tissue from its precious box. I crawled up onto the bed, and stretched out on my side facing her, “I just can’t believe she’s gone, she was so young,” she mumbled.
"Mommy it's going to be ok, everything's going to be ok." I whispered trying to smooth her hair back.
She managed to smile at me and pulled me closer kissing the top of my head; instantly recoiling in horror, "Mary, how long has it been since you had a bath?" Silence.
One Month Earlier:
Apparently my Grandmother was dying; two other missionaries had brought the news of Grandma's heart attack this morning. All Mom could say was her mother was too young to die, and then she burst into tears while Dad awkwardly held her in a side hug. If the occasion had not been so sad I would have laughed at the picture they created: my Father was something of a character, tall, tough, and broad, with wiry stubble that would have made a lumbar jack envious. He liked to rub his cheek against mine leaving large itchy welts, "It'll toughin' you up!" he'd always say;" That which does not kill you only makes you stronger," was his motto and he truly believed it - unless something happened to Mom. When Mom cried Dad was almost comical, she was his only sentimental weakness and watching him try to gently cradle her small frame against his large one was just a sight. One of the missionaries who had come, Bob, squatted down beside me and asked if I wanted to come to his house. He was the only person from the mission who knew where we lived, and since that was outside the realm of telephones and radios he had had to come this morning. He had a girl about my age, and after two months of not seeing another kid except my brother, and a few Maasai children I couldn't communicate with yet, I was eager to go. I nodded and asked if anyone else was coming, and he seemed to think all of us were even though I was the only one who had been asked so far. He rose and spoke to my Dad about going to his house and using the telephone there, since they lived two hours away in Nairobi. My Mother perked up when she heard his suggestion, and latched onto the hope that since her mother wasn't gone yet she might not die at all.
When we arrived at Bob's house his daughter Christi tried to give me a hug, but her mother pulled her back whispering to her about giving our family space. They acted like grandma was already dead. The younger children in the living room were immediately hushed and we were ushered into a back room where a large black phone was sitting on a small wooden table. My parents sat on a large bed a few feet away and Mom began frantically pressing buttons. Zeb sat down in a corner of the room with his walkman, the large spongy headphones already covering his ears, he stared at the ground not making eye contact. He loved our grandmother, they had always gotten along well, and when we lived in America they talked on the phone at least twice a week. I on the other hand was feeling keen disappointment as I realized I probably wasn’t going to be able to play with Christi, and I knew I wouldn’t get to talk to any of my relatives in America, because they would only want to talk to Mom right now. Suddenly Mom shot up off the bed her face grim, as more tears started to fall, but she managed to contain herself as she hung the phone up and turned towards us. “Well it doesn’t sound good. She’s not going to make it, and I have to go home immediately.”
Zeb and I cried in the bathroom for an hour, Mom and Dad came in and out handling our grief in shifts. As we were winding down, Mom began to cry again as she moaned, “Oh, Mom and Dad were going to go to Israel in a few weeks, Mom wanted to see The Promised Land so much, and now she never will.” I thought that sounded slightly ridiculous since Grandma was in heaven, or at least she was going to be in the near future, guilt washed over me for burying her before she was gone like Christi’s mom had.
“Mom, she is going to see the promised land,” I laid a hand on her knee from my spot on the floor.
She stared at me for several seconds before crushing me in a huge hug crying, “You’re right, you’re so right!”
Mom flew out that night, and I suddenly realized I was sorta by myself with Dad and Zeb for a month. Well that was not going to be fun. Although Mom had just hired a maid to comply with government policy, all non-citizens had to provide a job for at least two Kenyans, perhaps I wouldn’t be totally alone.
Perhaps I would. Dad was gone everyday, and didn’t get back until dark. Zeb didn’t want to talk much, and so for the first week we followed the home schooling program Mom had charted out for us in overwhelming silence. It was at this point I began talking to myself. I spent my days riding Zeb’s old red bike furiously over the dirt paths that formed a clever maze through Maasai country. On several occasions a Maasai boy named Dison invited me to share his lunch, which meant I learned to suck milk straight from the goat tit. Sometimes I would devote entire afternoons to observing the army of ants that lived in little hills spread strategically about the yard, and occasionally I would jump extra high on the trampoline to try and sneak a peak at the male workers coming out of the shower at the chicken farm next door.
The nanny's name was Margaret; she arrived a week and half after Mom left and I really liked her. She was refreshing considering our last house help had been a seventy year old man with Alzheimer’s, who hated children and often swung pots at our heads if we interrupted him while he washed dishes. All of these factors led to a somewhat negative environment, and when he forgot who we were and what he was doing there, Dad happily drove him back to his family in Kui. Margaret on the other hand would sing while she worked, and when she saw me she would smile. Whenever she cooked she would tell me stories about her home and her two daughters she had had to leave to find work. Still she was in her thirties and there was only so much time I could spend following her around until I knew I was being a bother. So for the better part of every day I would retreat to my usual wanderings, inventing imaginary friends and transforming the red bike into a fierce war horse that I rode around in a wide circle fighting very important battles and shouting swear words.
Two weeks after Mom left I was sitting in my favorite spot on the top of the water tower. As an eight year old living on bleach blonde plains the twenty foot cement structure seemed impossibly large, and I exulted in the knowledge that this was the highest structure for miles around. Perhaps the most daunting part of the experience was the wooden ladder I had to scale to reach the top. It was not for the faint of heart. Termites were slowly eating it away, and it’s spindly home-made frame quivered and squeaked the entire climb. Once this was managed I would dramatically twirl around and survey my domain; the view was magnificent. A plain of swaying grass stretched into blue horizon, with only our compound, the Kenchic chicken farm, and a small cluster of dung houses a quarter mile away marring its’ unchanging surface. As I sat there staring out into nothingness, I began muttering creative ideas to myself about what to do next, “I could always play with Zeb’s GI Joe’s...No, we did that an hour ago don’t you remember...Oh yeah you’re right, forgot, sorry...We could ride our bike...You know were going to end up doing that before it’s dark anyways may as well think of something else ‘till then...True true, well you think of something we never do what I suggest...Don’t be so touchy...” When suddenly it hit me: if Mom was gone and Dad wasn’t home during the day, why in the devil were Zeb and I still bothering to do school work. This seemed like such a major oversight on our part that for a moment I sat in stunned silence. The next stage was action, I practically leaped down the ladder, leaving it tottering dangerously in my wake. As soon as I ran into the house I began shouting for Zeb, he’d been staying in his room for the most part, and I barged in while he was in the middle of a hard level of Sonic. I knew better than to interrupt him, and instead paced back and forth in front of his closet biting my tongue until I felt my eyes water.
When he finally threw down the controller I could see Sonic on the screen behind him speared on ivory spikes as gold coins poured out of his dismembered torso; I wondered what it was like having coins for blood. “What do you want?” Usually Zeb was somewhat pleasant, but this whole dying thing had really gotten to him.
“Do you realize that we’ve been doing school this whole time, and no one would ever know if we just didn’t do it until Mom comes back?” I was too excited by my epiphany to deliver it with the smirking sophistication I had planned in my mind, so it came out in a gasping shout instead. Zeb’s mopey face suddenly broke into a broad smile, and he began to laugh for the first time in two weeks.
“I believe that is the best thing I’ve ever heard come out of your mouth!” he said which I interpreted as enthusiastic agreement. I couldn’t help the earsplitting grin that made my face muscles ache, and from that day forward we didn’t open another school book. Instead we decided to move them around a little bit each day so if Dad ever looked at our desks he wouldn’t begin to notice a pattern; he never looked, and our little lives were suddenly incredibly bright. Zeb made a quick recovery after that, although he still didn’t want to play with me as much, but I was capable of entertaining myself by now.
The day Mom was supposed to come back, Dad told us he would be home early to pick us up so we could all go welcome her. Around dusk he roared up the drive in his mud covered truck, and Zeb and I ran outside dancing about and singing happily. Well actually Zeb wasn’t really doing either, but it made me feel better to think he was. Dad looked at Zeb and smiled, but when his gaze fell on me his brow furrowed and he began to frown. He seemed to be seeing me for the first time in a while, “Mary, sweetie, isn’t that the same set of clothes you were wearing when we dropped your mother off at the airport?” Yes.
“Maybe...I can’t quite recall,” I looked down at the black shorts that had once been covered in white oddly shaped patterns. Where the white had been there was thick red dust clinging in several layers, and there were new holes varying in size and shape that I hadn’t noticed before. My blue shirt with spongy pink writing on it was just as pitiful. The writing was falling off in places and the blue was really a rust color now. I decided not to mention the fact that I hadn’t bathed in just as long, but since I never bothered with a mirror I didn’t realize that my white blond locks had begun to clump together in greasy wads. Further more the habit of twirling my hair had turned those greasy wads into respectable dredlocks. Dad sighed, muttering something about it being too late to change anything now, and then yelled for us to get in the car when he realized we were going to be late.
Mom came home that night to a daughter who resembled Pigpen, but luckily she was still too overwhelmed with all that had happened to notice it; until the next day when she smelled my hair. She was never fully able to recapture the girl she left behind, and it wasn’t until years later I realized that month was a turning point in my life. I turned wild, and I haven’t looked back.