Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Brokedown Palace

We arrived back home last night about 8 o’clock after being away for six weeks. We were very excited about finally being in our own home, about sleeping in our own bed, and about getting a little rest. The road to Livingstone is worse than ever. I don’t even know if you can say the road has potholes anymore, as there are more potholes than road. I guess a more accurate description would be, the potholes have a little road left. And for much of that last 60 kilometers, it was faster to drive on the unpaved shoulder than on what’s left of the road.

When we got to the house, feeling as though we had been for a ride in a washing machine, we discovered what looked like the Zambezi River flowing from underneath our kitchen door. A steady stream of water was running out of the kitchen and into the backyard and the wooden door was all the way open. The outside security gate was still pad locked and shut tight. We turned to our guards with a puzzled look, who until now had not said a word about any impending catastrophe. Its sort of African to let your friends discover bad news for themselves. I think the idea is not to cause anyone any grief until it becomes unavoidable. For instance, when a persons mother has died, and her friends find out before she does, they will tell her, “You must travel home right away. Your mother is very sick.” They know the mother has died, but they reason its best to let their friend travel with a little hope rather than in total despair.

“Uhhh…there’s a river coming out of our very open kitchen door!” I said to our guards. “How long has this been like that?”

“About three weeks,” they said, trying to look as shocked as we were.

Three weeks! I thought about that for a second, and made a mad dash to the front door. As I stood sorting through keys and matching them to the right lock, I imagined a veritable lake in our house, our furniture floating around like big cushiony buoys, some guy paddling a dugout canoe down our hallway, casting for Tiger fish. Small children diving off our countertops, using large pots and mixing bowls for make-shift boats. I got the door open and rushed into the kitchen. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared, but bad enough. A pipe joint had come loose under the sink and so for three weeks, water had poured out like a fountain; like a big, fat, watery, kitchen-hating, fountain of evil and destruction.

So, after a trip atop a washing machine and after what seemed like an eternity away from home, the vision we had of a relaxing evening quickly vanished. We shut off the valve and started the massive job of cleaning up the lake in the middle of our kitchen. We pulled the now warped kickboards off the bottoms of our brand new cabinets and found more standing water and mud.

When we finally got to bed, I think we were too tired to sleep and I lay away thinking about our youth seminar that begins this weekend. With lots of planning and preparation to do, this was about the last thing we needed. Although, I guess nobody ever needs something like this.

So, we’re working on getting back to normal, although “normal” is a rare commodity here. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe missions is best done, when we come to the end of ourselves and say in desperation, “God, I really need your help!”

I have been meditating on John 6 lately, and the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand. I think the lesson Jesus wanted to teach the disciples that day, when He asked Philip where they should buy food for all these people, was he wanted them to realize that their own resources would always be insufficient. Their money, their wisdom, their reasoning, their fears. All good things, but completely insufficient by themselves. Instead, if they trusted in Jesus, and turned to Jesus, they would find that He is more than enough. And so, at the start of this week, our bodies are shaken (not stirred), our purses are empty, our bones are our tired, and our floors are wet.

And the multitude is approaching.

So, Lord – here’s my tuna sandwich. In my hands, it just a meager lunch. In yours, it’s an abundant feast. Do in our midst, what we could never do on our own.

And may the next river we find ourselves confronted with be of the living waters variety!

1 comment:

Joy said...

Oh... my word. You guys, I'm SO sorry and I wish I was there to help clean up the flood! I tell you what, I believe you and other missionaries have the most crazy, bizarre stories of any people group in the world! Seriously.

My prayers will be with you both... for sanity :), abundant strength and endurance to clean house and prepare for this weekend, and for His living water to flow over you both and the youth during this coming month.

You two ROCK. Sending you both an imaginary big, fat hug, along with a mop, bucket, and sump pump! :)

See you in a month!