Together

Lois visiting a village home

Lois visiting a village home

The clock read 2:38AM when I awoke, but my body was clearly saying 8:38AM.  For at least this one day more my body clock and thoughts will remain in harmony with the flow of time in Jos, Nigeria.

I’m sitting now in front of my computer and drinking a cup of freshly brewed coffee.  I must confess I really do appreciate that part of being in the USA! 

Separating from the group was more difficult than I anticipated.  Elton,  Sarah, Rochelle,  Jen and I reamined together on the Amsterdam to Detroit flight.  But several times I saw Laura, Kristen, Larry, Jean, Pat, or Jim in a quick glimpse of another traveller.  Then came the little jolt that we were no longer together.  I heard Theo laugh as well – and again the little jolt that our group was no longer together.   (Did I miss anyone, Larry?)

One of the words I appreciated in Jos was “togetha.”  Speakers would check for understanding by questioning, “Are we togetha?'” or affirm unity by commenting “We are togetha.”   It would be great if someone could create a way to be together in more than one place at a time – to be together with family at home as well as family spread elsewhere in the world.  And now immediately comes the thought that indeeed Someone did create just that –  we remain together as brothers and sisters in Christ having shared a common – maybe even transforming! – experience.  That’s true, but a little simplistic.  I truly enjoyed being part of our community the past few weeks and I think sadness at the dissolving of the physical aspect of that community is an affirmation of its’ importance in my life.  It would be truly sad if there were no regrets at saying goodbye.

I started writing this thinking perhaps I would reflect a bit on the significance of the events of the past weeks.  I have many images flashing through my mind.  Wonderful images – the incredible joyful response of the Faith Alive support group when our bass members started singing “Mun Gode, Allah!”.  That’s probably number 1 on a top ten list.  But there are others – the passion in Justin’s voice as he shared his love and concern for Nigeria, the orphans at Almanah Rescue Mission, the “real” coffee retreat on the hilltop at Meshiah,  the smiles of the people of Nigeria, the sincere “you are welcome” heard again and again, the dancing and colors of cultural evening,  ??Theo dancing??, the HIV patients I saw with Dr. Ben, evening meals in Nigerian homes and “our” home at RURCON, Obed and Gindiri, the sight, sound and colors of market, the incredible fact of the existence of Faith Alive, Amina and her group of Muslim TBA’s listening to Larry’s presentation, Valerie in her tree.  That’s probably more than 10 and still just the tip of the iceberg.  Then there are the images that haunt my heart – the note of despair in Justin’s voice as he shared his love and concern for Nigeria, the trembling hand of the newly diagnosed HIV positive woman, the protruding dirt streaked belly of the little girl at Hwol Yarue school, the pain of the  young man with the huge bone tumor, the little 10 year old boy injured by a motorcyle,  the smell and sight of burning garbage, the voiced and unvoiced fear of what happens if PEPFAR is withdrawn, and that list goes on as well.  These remain pictures in my mind.  I’m don’t think I’m  ready yet to reflect on the ways in which I have been, am being, and will be changed by the experience.  I need processing time.   I went to Nigeria feeling conflicted and I return home feeling conflicted.  Nigeria inspired both compassion and resentment.  The individuals are so precious and so endangered – the government with the financial resources to respond apparently so very uncaring.  My prayer is that I allow myself  to be transformed and not to react by shutting down in response to absolutely overwhelming needs and pain. 

Last night I walked into my home about 8:15PM, dropped my luggage in the middle of the floor and said good-night to my sister and brother-in-law.  I stood alone in the quietness for a moment.  Then I went to the kitchen and flipped on the light.  I took a glass over to my refrigerator.   I selected the “cubed ice” button and filled my glass half full from the dispenser.  Next, I selected the “water” button and pressed there to fill my glass.  That’s when I discovered my water dispenser isn’t working.  Really – life can be so difficult sometimes!!!

Lois Lyndaker

11/23/08

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