Monday, July 25, 2011

Difficult Divide...


Today was hard…  Not because of anything terrible that we saw, but because of the difficulties of two cultures trying to find their way to loving each other…  It’s not the post I had hoped to have for today, it’s not the story that seemed to be unfolding all day…  

Well, I’ll just start at the beginning…  We arrived at the church with the medical team, they were holding clinic there today…  The plan for our team was to plant fruit trees and seedlings, but the Pastor asked us to wait until the people from his community could help us, because he wanted us to work side by side…

So we started playing with the children…  We had bubbles, beach balls, soccer balls and even a football…  At first the little ones were so shy around us, but bubbles will break the ice in any culture!  Before long, they were laughing and playing with us.

From there, I got to spend time with one of their mothers…  I’m not sure why we connected the way we did, but before long we were sharing real stories from our lives…  Throughout the day we talked about plans for the future…  We discussed the peace of Christ…  We even talked about the difference between real miracles and the ones we have a hard time believing…  She is a VERY wise young woman…

Later in the day, we got to carry water from the river…  We took huge containers down, filled them (partway) and then headed back to the church.  The Pastor told us that the people in the community didn’t believe we could really carry them all the way back…  So we put them on our heads and set out to prove them wrong…  We dodged 3 inch thorns that look like mini swords and watched for black mambas…  That was an experience!

We laughed…  we played…  we worked…  language barriers were leaped over…  Zack and Nick were amazing with the children and such hard workers…  I couldn’t have asked for a better day…
But then it happened…  the pastor informed me that the gogo’s were preparing a dinner for us.  In the Swazi culture, it’s the most generous thing they could do…  Food is scarce and yet they would share with us to show their love…  But the problem is that it would most likely make us sick, maybe very sick.  As time came for us to leave, I really hoped I had misunderstood because nothing else was said, but as we were packing up to go, they started bringing out heaping plates of food…

To make a long story short, we ended up not eating as we had to get back by a certain time, but I’m certain that we offended them…  In a way, I can’t but feeling like we rejected the widow’s mite…  I guess in a way, we did…  But how do you love each other across cultures and still protect those you’ve been given responsibility for?

First, we are told to be back by a certain time for our safety, they don’t want us traveling after dark…  But even more, how could I expose everyone on our team, my children include, to something that could make us very sick…  One of the parts of the dinner was salad, most likely washed in river water…  

I have no doubt that we’ve offended them and that breaks my heart…  Our relationship grew so much today and then it was like the angry lion took his paw and swiped us off the mountain top…  These are such beautiful, generous people who just wanted to love us by sharing all that they had with us… 
I pray that even now, God is working understanding and forgiveness in their hearts…  that He will go before us and smooth the way…  And that tomorrow we will find our way across the great cultural divide.

3 comments:

sierrasmom said...

I am so sorry...it must have been difficult for you but you know that it hd to be that way. You could not risk everyone getting sick and not be able to do the work that is needed. I am sure that God will find a way to help them understand! Hugs to you!
Kathie

Robyn@MossFarm said...

Long story short, I had the opportunity to share a meal with a Nepalese family I know right here in Dallas. I wondered if the food would make me sick. It did, and that was right here in Dallas where the water is clean. Know that God will take care of this difficult situation you encountered. He's bigger than our frail human bodies and will provide another way for you to show your love to these beautiful people, without having to share a prepared meal. Praying for peace in this.
From Robyn Maxwell (Stewart and Lilly whom you lead last year--wonderfully!)

Michelle Johnson said...

When we were in Mozambique we wanted to find bubbles to interact with the kids. We couldn't find any so we made our own with dish soap and water. Didn't turn out so great, but it was fun trying. :)

I know it must have broke your heart to not be able to give the respect to the Swazi culture to enjoy their meal. You are right, they are so giving and loving. Their sense of hospitality is amazing! The makes and the gogos work so hard and as Americans we don't want to put them out. But they so desperately want to love us the way they know best. And cooking they can do! Man, I miss pap. :)