An ancient fable relates the tale of a group of blind men upon their first encounter with an elephant. Having heard of an elephant before but not knowing anything about them, these men are given the opportunity to feel the creature in order to know what it is. In this story (which has been told by countless people groups on multiple continents for over a thousand years) a string of 3 to 6 blind men each approach the elephant one at a time, grabbing different parts of the animal.
One, having felt the side of the animal, claims with certainty that an elephant is some form of wall. Another adamantly disagrees with him claiming the elephant is some kind of tree, having wrapped his arms around the animal's leg. A third chimes in stating that it must be some form of farming equipment, like a plow. He, of course, had felt the tusk. Yet another still claims they are all fools stating this is nothing more than a kind of snake, all the while wrestling with the elephants trunk.
I had a lot of fun choosing my 5 most entertaining posts for last week's Term in Review, but I needed to work through this week's post. It was medicine for my soul.
Recently, I mentioned my lack of excitement about returning to the States, and as that time has quickly approached, I have found myself running a gamut of emotions. Sometimes it is the dread of returning to the world from which I came and being disappointed with what I find. At other moments it is hurt at leaving a life created here, saying goodbye to friends and people who have now become family.
But sifting through this next portion of my Term in Review, I finally found a little perspective.
It is certainly true where I live, and rightly so. I currently live in a world where life is harder than most anyone who reads this could imagine. If you are reading this, you are sitting in front of a computer. Even if its not your own, you at least have access to one. Day after day, the people here are fighting for existence. Many are wondering whether they will eat tomorrow. They live in sickness, disease and danger.
That does not leave a lot of room for smiling. Yet, despite their circumstances, the people here make room. One of the greatest gifts I have received in Africa is a smiling face. In a world that is so hard, few things are as valuable as experiencing moments of joy with a friend.
There is just something about seeing a face light up with happiness, eyes bright and teeth out of hiding. That is why I wrote these posts.
If you have ever had someone pose a really deep question as you were pulling into the parking lot of your destination, then you understand the feeling.
Instead of attempting to sum up the entirety of my two-year experience in 1000 words or less, I am opting to take another route. I want to do a “Term in Review.” Certainly you are familiar with the Year in Review that many news and media outlets do at the end of each year, taking memorable moments and stories throughout the year and providing a summary of events.
Well, for the next two posts, I will walk back through some of my favorites. My goal is to provide a good cross section of my experiences here for the last two years.
Before she woke up this morning, the small group of us here began celebrating her birthday.
The 4th of July is a different experience overseas. You do not drive up and down streets dressed in red, white and blue ribbons. There is no smell of hot dogs wafting from your neighbor’s yard. You do not see scores of ski boats and party barges lazily floating down the rivers, filled with partiers enjoying a long weekend.
Here, it is a day like any other. No pomp, no circumstance. No celebration, save the handful of us who call the United States home.
This is my second Independence Day abroad, and I find myself in much the same position I was last year, writing a blog post while everyone else is preparing for the cookout.
In war, a soldier must wear his armor. In the throws of battle, one must be able to identify friend from foe.
Enter the Christian t-shirt.
Blasting out the message of faith in full silk-screen style, you were masterpieces of poly-cotton blend art. Classy and thought-provoking, you challenged t-shirt readers everywhere with the full out, robust message of the gospel by stabbing their hearts with phrases as keen as, “Body piercing saved my life.”