I’ve wanted to write for months. Every few days there is an inspiration, a striking image or a memory. There have even been a few gems of inspiration. Sloth has won the hand, each round.
So, why is it that it’s here in Congo that I feel compelled to write? The red dust of Congo settles into my conscience, and like the oyster, I must react.
Nothing organized, flowing or profound here. Just an attempt to grab the glint off this prism that is Congo.
Sunshine and heat. It is hot here. My Congolese sisters and brothers say this is the dry season. Days have been hot and sunny (75-80 Fahrenheit?). We've had breezes on most days. Evenings have been pleasant. This morning, when I got up at 4:30, I pulled on my fleece to sit on the porch and read. We've had water. Sometimes water runs scarce this time of year. For too many women and young girls, water is always scarce. They labor under those jerry cans, carrying water from bore hole or local pump to home. How far? It doesn't matter. Even 50 yards is too far.
|Dick and Joel|
Surprises. This place is full of surprises. On tiny lizard feet they jump out. There is the tiger-striped butterfly that perches and plate-sized avocados. In the early morning, before the sun even hints at the day, a bird swoops and chirps through our compound (a bat?) under the protective cover of dark. Goats perch on tree stumps and the window sills of houses under construction. Joel, Honoré and Decky's son, plops himself on my brother-in-law's lap at first meeting, and settles in, as easily as Dick's grandson's settle on his lap at home. And at church Joel slips out of a pew somewhere and climbs onto Dick's lap.
Hand-washing. At someone's home or in a gathering where there is a shared meal, it is customary for someone to offer soap, water, a basin, and towel for guests to wash hands. This is one of my favorite customs and has become a sort of eucharist for me. It is a tender moment of grace in the day. I am usually the recipient and do not take lightly the kindess of the one who offers me soap, gently pours water over my dirty hands, then gives me a towel to dry.
Work. There is plenty. Aside from classes, teachers, and students, there are workmen slashing the tall grass and clearing land for surveyors. There is building. Every morning Delphin marshalls his folks to clean the floors and ready the Academic Building. Victor juggles internet problems, trouble-shoots hardware and software hiccups, and manages everything IT. Women cook food that students buy for lunch. There are goats that need tending and a field of eggplants to cultivate.
Music. There is no match for the music of this place. I can overlook the less-than-pristine acoustics and frequent feedback screech for the pure joy of song and celebration.
Lessons in humility, generosity, and hospitality. This is something for another post. All its own. These are daily lessons, and for good reason. I have much to learn.