Do you ever feel like you do not even know how much you do not know? That sums up my experience these past few weeks. Every day we have been in various sessions geared toward helping us understand African culture, community development issues, AIDS and healthcare issues unique to Africa, safety and security, communication styles, and many more that I cannot even recall at this late hour. We are so diverse as a group. Some people have never been to Africa before and some of the group has lived for 20 + years in the jungle.

Duncan, a Kenyan pastor & teacher
During one of our training sessions on health and security there was discussions about how to bleach veggies, how to filter water, how to get bugs out of your clothes after washing them before they embed in your skin I realized just how much I do not know and how NOT hard core I am! By now I have got the bleaching veggies thing down and with the help of our travel filters we have been OK with the water situation so far but everything is just so overwhelming. It is like learning everything I take for granted in the States over, eating veggies after a quick douse in water, drinking from the tap, speaking and being understood. I also spent over two hours washing our clothes by hand out side. With my forearms burning from the scrubbing I had a revelation about how much physical work there is to do here that I just have never had to think about at home. A student who is graduating in a few weeks was also washing his clothes outside and after he laughed at my fumbling around trying to figure out how to get these huge plastic basins filled with water and balanced high enough to wash he had pity on the poor ignorant Mzungu and helped me (you balance the tubs on these wooden sticks and then fill them). His name is David and we chatted for about 2 hours while we scrubbed, rinsed, rang out, and hung up.

We talked about Kenya and America, about politics (he had lots of questions about Barack Obama as many Kenyans do), about the church in Africa and America, about our families, about our educational systems, and language. He was so kind in sharing his clothespins and this bar of “magical soap” as I call it because it gets out the red mud stains that cover our clothes. Although I definitely miss the just out of the dryer fluffiness I think I did alright for my first attempt.
Another realization that I am in for a huge learning curve came during our health session. If I was not already overwhelmed by the discussion on malaria prevention and treatment the facilitator casually mentioned the need for us all to carry a black rock. I had NO IDEA what this black rock was but apparently it is used for treating deadly snake bites when getting to a doctor is not possible. We started asking where we could get one and were told that a tribe in a small village makes them and we can buy them. One woman named Helga said “it is easy to make your own” and then she described that you go to the butcher, get a cow bone, saw it into small pieces, boil it in milk, somehow get this black ash to appear thru cooking for a specified time……yeah, she lost me at “saw the cow bone.” Helga is a hard core lady- I love her! She and her husband lived in the middle of the jungle in Irian Jaya for over 20 years. All of her kids were born there and she has about 10 near death stories that are insane. I asked her about what is was like giving birth there and she told me that for her second child she went into early labor and had to walk 7 km through the jungle carrying her 18 month old to find help. She and her kids also survived a shot out while living in a house made of cardboard. Again, I am reminded how NOT brave I am! I thought the bumpy ride to Swedish Covenant Hospital while in labor was rough.
After the black rock debacle (we were able to buy one and it is CRAZY- when you put it on your tongue it sticks and sucks out fluid, too weird!) This lead into a discussion of using “the zapper” which is just as it sounds, a dodgey electrical shocker that you apply to the snake bite wound. I really have no idea why but I guess applying electrical shock kills the poison and the instructions we were given is to shock the person (or yourself) until the pain of the shock is worse than the pain of snake bite; yikes!!
So, all this to say I am not even aware of how much I do not know at this point but one day at a time I am learning things I never thought I would want or need to know. Trusting in God is not an option for me right now, I have to trust and rest in His care as I learn more about how to just live here. Despite being completely out of my comfort zone or knowledge background I was encouraged through the Word “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made” -Psalm 145:13 &
“Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” –Luke 18:27 Amen!

Comments Off on a learning curve