Monday, August 29, 2011

Another life...

I miss Africa.  I miss who I was there.

Not the one who made far too many mistakes.  Not the one who was too young.  Not the one who was confused.  I miss the one who was more free to be herself than anywhere else on earth.

I miss the wide open spaces.  I miss walking along a dirt path to work. I miss being challenged by my students.  I miss the lack of guile.  I miss communal meals.  I miss being in and out of everyone's houses.  I miss picking up coconuts in your front yard and having some for lunch.  I miss having a child fetch you a pineapple to go with the coconut.  I miss setting out ingredients on the counter at night and having yogurt in the morning.  I miss sunsets so beautiful you weep. I miss fierce storms.  I miss florescent plankton lighting up the ocean at night.  I miss a life bound by harsh realities, yet filled with an enviable certitude that God was there every single moment.

I miss Africa.

Today, I spent much of the day working on collateral for Lutherans in Africa, pausing to watch the videos I linked in the pieces and still more that I left out.  I spent part of the day praying for the mission, for the pastors, evangelists, and seminary students studying the pure doctrine and the flocks of God's sheep hungry to learn, hungry to receive the gifts of Christ. I spent part of the day wishing I didn't have a disease that prevented me from walking away from my life and just moving to Africa.

Only that continent already has enough of a mess; it doesn't need mine added to the burden it already bears.

The thing about Africa is that our foe wields a rather blunt weapon there.  No guile.  No whispers.  The lies are shouted out loud.  Brute force he brings to bear...through illness, violence, and corruption.  Oh, poor Africa, such festering wounds across her body.

Ravaged generations ago by greed, the sins of the fathers are certainly being played out to the third and fourth generation.  The worst of which...if you ask me...those called as Christians charging for Holy Baptism.  Oh, does that raise my ire, make my blood boil!

And yet...

And yet amidst that open onslaught is a faith born of tasting and seeing God in the tiniest of mercies and in the broad stroke of His grace covering all. I think it is a good thing to see sin all around you, to know that our foe is waiting to pounce every single moment.  It reminds you exactly this world we live in, a world warped by sin, filled with sin, crushed by sin. It reminds you the why of Christ crucified and exactly how wide and deep and high is the love of God won for us, given to us, poured over us, worked within us.

Have you heard about how every cell in our body is replaced within seven years?  That every seven years we are, literally, a new creation?  It is easy to forget that new creation is still rife with sin, still born of sin, still enslaved to sin.

In Africa, you do not forget this.  In Africa, you understand the need for the cross.  In Africa, you do not start thinking about how good people are, how good you might be.  In Africa, it is impossible to feel safe and secure in this life.  In Africa, it is impossible to be too busy to care for others, too distracted to see how endangered we are.  In all my years of church going, I have never heard hymns sung as I did in Africa.  I have never heard a longing for prayer as I did in Africa.  I have never seen the raw and pure joy of Jesus as I did in Africa.

I miss Africa.  I miss her beauty.  I miss her clarity.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!


ftwayne96 said...

Reminds me of the first sentence in Isak Dinesen's (Karen Blixen's) "Out of Africa" - "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills." That was Kenya too, as I recall. You've written a beautifully poignant reflection here, Myrtle. Thank you for doing it so very well.

Myrtle said...

I was a missionary in Liberia. I was there when the war broke out. Even so, I really do miss it.