It sounded like a bomb exploding when rain fired down on the tin roof of my classroom this afternoon. At first the noise and the wet and the cold made me shiver and frown, until over the thundering murmur of water on metal I heard a student utter one word to me: fetch. I immediately knew what he was saying. I tried to scream the good news but the roar of wind drowned my voice, so I turned to the chalkboard and scribbled out excitedly, “WE DON’T HAVE TO FETCH WATER!” – and all at once my students and I lifted our arms and jumped out of our seats and cheered and danced a grateful dance for rain.
Why? Because now that dry season is upon us and we have more than twice as many boarding students as last year, everyone has to fetch water every day to bathe in. Friday everywhere in Eastern Province the electricity and water was shut off, so even those who normally have running water had to fetch from the spring. Which is why Saturday morning when I went to go do laundry, I found a surprise that really made the reality of life here sink in: there was a line of 37 jerry cans all waiting for water from one little tap from a spring. And you know what? It was a problem that you can’t just throw money at and have it go away. It’s the infrastructure of the country and the reality that even paying to have running water doesn’t guarantee there’s enough for you that day. The poor, the rich, the local, the foreigner- no one is exempt from waiting in the line. Hope you don’t have any emergency, because it’s gonna be a while.
By Sunday the desperation caused fighting near the spring and the violence made it too dangerous to take the children there to fetch. The matrons took them for the hour walk to a lake, whose water is not pure. The following day two children came to me with rashes and blamed the lake water. Luckily by Monday the rest of the province had gotten water back on, and the spring was safe to fetch from again.
So today felt surreal dancing around excited for rain. Now we have at least 3 days without needing to fetch, and without worrying about any rashes. Don’t worry, I still made my declaration on the blackboard relate to our lesson about dependent and independent clauses 🙂
The best part of yesterday: At least now I know I’m not allergic to wasps! Yesterday was one of those days where all the little things were going wrong. My patience was at zero, and I cried twice out of frustration and stress. Why do we bother mopping if we have to go out in the mud to get from room to room? Putting a nail in the wall only makes it crumble. The rain has simultaneously made it cold and made it impossible to dry my only two pairs of pants since I washed them the previous day. By body is aching for a fruit, a vegetable, anything besides a boiled potato. Finally, a sharp pain is felt on my arm. In confusion and pain I rip off my sweatshirt to get a better look and see a red mark develop and start to swell. Confused, our cook who is with me turns my sweatshirt inside out to reveal a wasp in the sleeve. It’s the last straw. As I am about to break into tears once more, laughter exits my mouth.How long have I been wearing this sweatshirt? Hours now. What a sneaky little wasp! I got to hand it to him, he’s good. In fact, considering there’s a wasp nest outside of every building on the compound (and inside my classroom) it’s a wonder I haven’t been stung sooner!
I let the laughter feel good and realize I have been a horrible representative of Christ on this day. All the people around me are in the same if not worse positions of inconvenience, but I alone am flustered to the point of crossness and tears. I take a moment of humility to express my apology at being angry and my understanding that being cross and impatient is not a Christ-like state, and that with the help of Jesus, I want to improve my attitude. Immediately I have peace and the cook and I smile at each other. It was important for me to confess my sins to this man who, before had never gone to church and was confused when I asked us to pray over each meal but now reminds me to do so if I start to forget. I am a missionary, but I am also a person who fails, and I can’t let that negatively affect anyone’s view of Christ. I was humbled by this man, standing in his shorts, tshirt and muddy bare feet on this cold day, never having complained a day that I’ve known him. I experience another humbling glimpse of Christ on the road in the form of a little girl with a rope fastening her oversized skirt around her belly. Her shirt has a tear that exposes both her young, undeveloped breast and three ribs jutting out from her side. her barefootedness is a given. But she is laughing and smiling and greeting me in Kinyarwanda. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” On this day, this little girl has been more of the image of a woman of God described as such in the book of proverbs than the bitter missionary.
So I thought more about the dark side of myself. There are more sins I need to confess. I fail daily. I need a savior daily. I often wish for privacy more than opportunities to show hospitality. I glorify how hard-working I am, but go to bed too tired to read my Bible or pray. I idolize the poor and criticize the rich, while in the next moment idolizing the rich and criticizing the poor. My first instinct in interpersonal conflict is to win my argument rather than winning my brother. I waver between an untrusting inferiority complex and a prideful superiority complex. When I don’t let Christ rule in my heart, I’m a selfish, proud, critical, argumentative fraud. And without Christ, you are too. So please don’t respond to this with any kind of reassurance that I’m actually not so bad! What do you or I know about goodness? So little. Only as we delve deeper into relationship with Christ do we begin to see glimpses of it and understand it. So what do I need to do for 2014? Die to self daily. Thirst for Jesus more and more. Learn lessons from barefooted Rwandans. Have no fear of wasps.