Her sweat-sticky little self squished in as close to my own sweat-sticky self as she could wiggle. “Auntie!” she giggled as she picked up my hand. In her accented English she began to count my fingers. “One, two, three, four, five! Oy!” She exclaimed.
I gave her my other hand to count those fingers, too. When she finished I picked up her hand and counted her fingers. “You have five fingers. I am just like you! We are the same!”
And then we counted toes, eyes, noses, mouths and ears. Each time I told her we were the same.
When we finished I told her we were the same because the same person who made her made me. I asked her if she knew who made her. She told me God. I asked her if she knew who made me. And she smiled and answered “God”.
In a country where so much is so different and new and completely out of our realm of understanding and experience it is good to remember how we are the same. The other day there was a little girl playing with her dress and she broke her zipper. The women around her tried to fix it, but it could not be fixed and the little girl wept.
One afternoon as I sat with the children they pointed at one little girl and shrieked with laughter and said she was “sick in the eye” and that she couldn’t touch anyone. She would lunge at the children and they would shriek and run from her. She was not sick, they were playing their own “cooties” type of game.
I have watched the children fight over toys, share their snacks with each other, fuss when their mother’s told them to share their snacks, hit each other with long blades of grass, and giggle over and over again.
I have seen the teenagers love the cameras on our phones (we’ve got the selfies as evidence) and enjoy the music we introduce them to.
I have laughed as the inside jokes have grown with new friends. Most inside jokes really aren’t funny when you try to explain them, so I will save you that, save for this story:
When we first got here my boys had brought some ghost pepper salt which was given to some of the teen girls, without telling them what it was or how hot it was.
Today the girls had very hot peppers in the kitchen and gave my boys each one without telling them they were hot. It was hilarious to see the boys faces slowly dawn with recognition over the heat and the joke. The girls howled with laughter as the boys scrambled for water and Judah ran across the living room, face red, and between chugging water hollered, “I can see Elvis!”
There has been so much laughter shared with our new friends over things we all find funny.The differences are easy enough to see in this culture.
Both the good and the beautiful and the confusing and the less desirable. Sometimes in the midst of so many differences it is hard to get over them and see that there is so much more than our differences.
There is so much more than our confusion and lack of understanding.
There is so much more.
It really would be easy to get hung up on how different things are – and truly, there are many differences we have seen that we appreciate and admire and they should be acknowledged for the good that they are. There are differences that need to be acknowledged so that we can be sensitive and (hopefully) useful.
Differences aren’t bad, but when focused on they do have the tendency to segregate. In one of her books Elisabeth Elliot shares a story about a letter that was written by an older missionary to her parents while they were on their way to the mission field in Belgium;
“If it has not already been done, somewhere in the mid-Atlantic just dump overboard all the supposed superiority we Americans think we have over most other folks! Enter Belgium merely as a sinner-saved-by-grace, and not as an American!”
Enter merely as a sinner-saved-by-grace.
On Sunday we gathered with the local church and remembered the Lord Jesus with brothers and sisters in Christ. A loaf of bread and a pitcher of water were the emblems passed from person to person as we partook of the breaking of bread, the Lord’s supper.
It was a precious hour-ish long service with like minded people who love the Savior. A time to remember what the Lord Jesus did on the cross for our sins.
As I sat listening to a prayer in a language I could not understand I was struck with how beautiful it is to be able to just be with people that love Jesus Christ. We were in the middle of the bush with backless wooden pews, a cement floor, screen less windows, and insane humidity – all things so very different from what we are accustomed to.
But we could so clearly see that at the core of our beings we were the same – sinners saved by grace.
It is Saturday afternoon right now and we are about to head out to a local village and stay in the home of a Nigerian. Paul will be speaking tomorrow morning – through a translator.
He has had a lot of practice with that this week with VBS as the men had asked him to please do the teaching portion.
We are excited about this overnight adventure and don’t quite know what to expect!!
Here are some few more scattered pictures from our time here: