09 September 2013

On this ground

Three-and-a-half years ago when I moved to Haiti, I mentioned to my program manager that the dirt in Haiti was very pervasive. "The dust of the Sahara," he said. I needed a bit more explanation. He explained that the weather would carry dust across the Atlantic from Africa and deposit it in Haiti--that's why it was so fine, fine enough to be carried on the wind. I don't know if it's true, but I thought that was a very good story.

I reached into my suitcase to pull out a sweatshirt (60 degrees? There might as well be snow on the ground.), and I heard some dirt fall to the floor. So many MAFer's have passed through these apartments on furlough or for training...how many kinds of dirt are ground into this carpet? Maybe that's gross, but I found it kind of romantic to think of all these airplane-flyers and Gospel-spreaders traipsing into Idaho with the dust of Kalimantan and Nairobi and San Jose still on their feet.

And as it always does, my first few days in the U.S. confirm that I don't know how to do life here anymore. We took a wrong turn leaving the airport, and David's dad backed up. We agreed later--we would've just driven over the curb. I went to make some spaghetti and thought, "Gee, I haven't checked the filter today--I hope we have enough water...", forgetting that there's potable water even in my toilet. I felt guilty about running the dishwasher. I was excited to go to church because I could sing in English...but found I didn't know any of the words. Well, I take that back--I did know the last song.

Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

"Thee," a word I recently learned is akin to the "you" in  "hey you." A sentiment of informality, it's like when you call your mom and say, "It's me," and she knows just who you are. This mighty God, whose presence without mercy would be fatal, we sing to you. We announce how unapproachable you should be, and then, just to show that we know you're not, we say "hey you." Because as the pastor said in his sermon, humility comes from the word for dust. "Humus," which as all gardeners know, is the nutrient-filled soil that holds in the water. Humus is messy--but there's a richness to it as well.

He remembers, even when I forget, that I may be covered in the dust of the nations, but I am also formed from it. And in that space, maybe I can carve out a home wherever I am. I am thankful that there are others who are processing their messy culture shock publicly and also "seem like a moronic or drunk adult to anyone spying on you while you wander around the grocery store." (Thank you, Tara Livesay.) If nothing else, I know I am not alone. 

We will spend a week in Nampa, Idaho, and then be on to new dust in the Portland/Vancouver area. Thanks for your prayers for a time of good communication and connection here at headquarters before we hit the road once more. 

1 comment:

  1. Welcome home. Or maybe this doesn't feel like home anymore. But, I'm glad you are here and am anxious to see you and hug you. Thank God for the good trip.

    Kay W.