Saturday, March 18, 2017
“Our life is made up of time. And yet time eventually runs out, and you wonder in your heart of hearts if those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and decades were spent the best way they possibly could have been.” ― Cecelia Ahern
When you live in a country where the temperature never rises above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or never drops below 65 degrees, where the sun rises every single day between six and seven and sets every day between six and seven, it is hard to mark the passage of time. When we lived in the U.S., we always knew what season and what month by the weather and the holidays. There was a real spring, summer, fall (trees changed colors), and winter (cold, ice, and snow). There were holidays every month from New Year’s Day to Christmas including Memorial Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July (I am aware these are not in chronological order), Thanksgiving, and many others that you could not miss as television events, family gatherings, special sales (Black Friday comes to mind), and lots of other things for which houses were decorated, costumes worn, and special parties were held at school and at church. None of that happens here. There are a couple of National Holidays, but few observe them, and we only notice because the banks are closed. Living in America, time moved from season to season, from holiday to holiday, from school term to school term, and from Advent to Christmas, Lent to Easter, and then Pentecost, yet here only Christmas and Easter are celebrated in the churches and then only quietly with no family gatherings, no special meals, no gift giving, and no external decorations or card exchanges. We do have the season of short rains and the season of long rains, but those are becoming harder and harder to identify as the climate changes.
When we first came, everything was exotic. Seeing women walking with large packages on their heads from water jugs to crates of Coca-Cola just astonished us. Now it is everyday. Seeing wood-yoked oxen pulling a plow in the field, watching our neighbors make bricks from the mud in their yards, seeing zebras and wildebeests grazing near the road has all become commonplace. We have adjusted, accepted, and become used to all that used to amaze and surprise us. When we arrived, we had high hopes of doing things that would make a difference here—and we have but not as much as we'd hoped, and we continue to do what God has called us to do. We have started schools, built a library, taught sanitation and hygiene in the villages and here at our mission. We have trained women to sew and given them treadle machines that need no electricity to operate. We have begun new churches, baptized new Christians, watched as scholarship students graduated year after year to go off and become Christian teachers. We have placed over 600 biosand filters to bring safe, clean water to thousands. The pace and the events of the first three years slowed and stopped as the U.S. economy collapsed and mission groups stopped coming. We have not had a mission group from the U.S. in the last eight years, yet we still have groups coming—just from other countries. What we thought we would be doing has changed, but not the reason for our being here, and the new things we are doing are exciting and keep us looking forward. Time is different here. It is like the mañana culture of South America but without that urgency. Things do move more slowly here, but they do move, and we are happily a part of that movement. I don’t mind the pace at all, in fact, I rather like it. The big thing today is that I get my stitches out. And a week from Sunday is the first Formula One race of the season in Australia. Time does keep moving, even if I am slowing down. The question is not how fast you do things, but rather, are you doing what God wants of you? We truly believe that we are doing exactly what God has asked of us, so what does it matter if time seems to move so slowly, except for how fast our bodies begin to fail us? As they say here “ndivyo ilivyo” or “what can you do—life is what it is,” so isn’t it better to be following Christ than your own desires and urges? We think so.