Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life...


My life is faintly ridiculous. I can think of no other word to better describe it. This morning I walked to church through a farm and jungle and crossed a stick structure that I’ll call a bridge only because I can’t think of a better word. Yesterday a man came to my house hoping to sell me a large monkey for dinner, having cleverly fashioned a carry strap by pulling a section of skin from the animal’s tail and pushing the head through the hole that created. Regularly I will find myself sitting on the veranda of a family’s mud hut, maybe on a stool or in a hammock, playing with kids whose language I barely understand and engaging in the smallest of talk with their parents or using an older child as a translator. I live amongst almost a hundred orphans, these little lives with no-one in the world able to care for them apart from those provided by a man in America, a man whom many of them barely know but whom they all call “Daddy”. I get to be their uncle, to play with them, read them stories, help them with their homework, discipline them, hug them good night and even put them to bed. That this is what my life currently looks like is ridiculous but what is more bizarre is how seldom I am struck by my situation’s strangeness. As The American might say, “I’m in Sierra Leone, West Africa. No big deal.”

And with this thought there comes another one, one about whether or not the reality of this place has really sunk in. Do I adequately realise that this is real, that these people are real, that this is their life, that these are their daily struggles? This isn’t some movie that I am in in which I, the main character, have embarked on an adventure in some strange tropical land, a strange land which will cease to exist when the action returns to the temperate climate of the main character’s home. My friend and former COTN-SL associate Sarah talks about her feelings of being sweetly broken by this place. Am I allowing this place to break me as surely such a place must do? Or have I found ways of keeping it at a distance…but then surely that would not be possible. What is clear to me however is that we live in a thoroughly surreal world, one where you can leave an air conditioned office with computers and mars bars (not something I do very often you understand...twice in 4 months I think) and walk a short distance before stepping in to someone’s mud and thatch home where children live walking a tightrope with malnutrition. The experience is entirely disorienting but thoroughly real. I want to be entirely infected by the reality of Banta, Sierra Leone. I will strive to continue to work and live in a way that puts me in real danger of being just that.

1 comment:

Laura and Scott said...

Thank you, Uncle Mark. Thank you for the gift of your writing. And thank you for bringing me back to Banta for a few moments. It makes me so very happy. Keep doing what you are doing ... God is using you in such mighty ways.

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