So I was thinking about the mountains today, and how they surround this city. I was thinking about how cool this place is and yet how hard it must be to live here. I thought about the people in this town – the shopkeepers we’ve interacted with, the daughters of the family upstairs. I thought about the kidnappings that have happened in the past here. I just kept thinking about that, and then read this verse today Psalm 125:1-2…
“Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion;
they will not be defeated but will endure forever.
Just as the mountains surround and protect Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds and protects his people, both now and forever.”
I was really encouraged and just felt like He put that verse there just for me, just to again say, “you are where I want you, you are doing the right thing, you are in the right place – and because you are trusting in me, you are as secure as all those mountains you see around you…and just as those mountains surround you, so I am surrounding you and protecting you…”
Anyway, that was really amazing to read that.
Beth and I went to the “used” clothing part of the bazaar and I bought a neutral colored suit – it’s worn and tattered, but will fit in a little better. Then she took me to meet Jen at, a coffee shop on the other side of town. The coffee shop is really nice – you could almost imagine you weren’t really in Dry Land at all! It's at places like these, in third world countries, that I can never really figure out how I’m supposed to feel! Like Starbucks in Thailand, or even Pizza Hut in India. With 80’s music playing in the background. People at this coffee shop had their laptops out, were checking email. Jen and I went outside and say on a bamboo type platform. I had a strawberry smoothie – it was very good, and it came in a glass jar.
We had a good conversation – amazing that we’ve only exchanged a few emails, and have never met, but were able to talk about a lot of things. I’m realizing that my life will probably be filled with these kind of friendships – ones that you make quickly, and never know when you’ll meet again. Jen is really stressed out right now with school and tried not to let it show, but she’s dealing with some stress stuff right now I can tell. She said, “whatever problems you have normally, they are intensified here. They are intensified in India, but even more here.”
She also said that as a single woman it’s been hard, but not too difficult to be here. She has enjoyed the expat (foreigners) community here. I explained my situation in Kahan was with one other foreigner. She said, “I’m really impressed that you were able to do that…”
I explained we had other expats at training, etc and that was really helpful. She said, “You do have to get out of here every once in a while – some people can stay, but I need to leave maybe every 4-5 months. You just get run down, and you don’t even realize it. And this year there is more security stuff than last year. Last year we went hiking and took trips, but we haven’t done that this year.” She said it’s hard since everyone has their own level of security and restrictions. There are people at both extremes.
I said I was trying to be extra cautious, but not to the point where I was living in constant fear. She said that was a really good way to go about life here. I told her about my interaction with the Dry Land man and how I misjudged him at first. She said, “it’s really good not to trust some of the men, but it’s also really good and important to trust others – because they really can help you and care for you.”
We went to the international school and she showed me her classroom and where she lives. It’s nice. I saw pictures of all her kids – they are almost all Dry Land kids. I was under the impression that they were expat kids for some reason. The international school is a US AID program to help restore education to the country, and I think the plan is for it to be run by Dry Land people themselves eventually.
Then Jennifer took me back to Beth’s side of town – to some other Worker's home where they were having weekly fellowship. It was encouraging to worship together with them. And they do stories! So that was fun. I felt like I was back in Kahan, sort-of. Oh yeah, the houses here all have a sitting/living room – but no western type furniture. There are large pillows lined up on the floor along the walls. You sit on those, and then there are other pillows that you lean back on. How relaxing! I want a room like that in my house!! It’s really comfortable!
After dinner, Randy and I talked a bit about how I got to Dry Land, and how they got to Dry Land. Turns out they know Travis. Anyway, they were first in M town, then in a neighboring country, and now in the capitol city. To make a somewhat long story short, they were trying to figure out what people group to work with, and originally started out based on statistics of the least reached groups in the world. That narrowed it down to maybe 200 places…then somehow they got focused on Dry Land, and surrounding places. They were thinking about two groups. The husband said he had a dream. He saw two Dry Land men that he felt like he recognized. Then off to the left he saw another man from the H people group in Dry Land, and he walked toward him, and that man said, “when are you coming?” And Randy embraced him. Then he woke up. He said it was clear to him that the two men were the two groups they had been thinking about, and the third man was the man from the H people group. He said he went to his wife, and started telling her his dream. She started crying. She had just read Acts 16 where Paul has the vision… “That night Paul had a vision. He saw a man from Macedonia in northern Greece, pleading with him, “Come over here and help us.” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, for we could only conclude that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.”
Anyway, it was interesting hearing their stories. He said they consider three questions when they investigate groups/places to work…1) what role would they have, 2) what team would look like, and 3) ---I can’t remember the third thing!!! Ahhh!
We ate Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, wheat thins, sprite and some amazing kind of whitish, honeydew type melon for dinner. Then I looked at the shop that the wife has. She works with H ladies, and has them make things that are A looking, but something that a westerner would buy. She had napkins, table clothes, bags, bookmarks, etc, etc. It was kind-of expensive, so I just bought a few bookmarks, but it was beautiful stuff. And really neat that she knows the women who make it all. Her husband said she has probably sold $35,000 worth of stuff in the past few years! She doesn’t keep the money, of course, but gives it back to those who have made it. After that, her husband took us home.
I was able to take a few photos outside the car window today – I’m so glad I was able to do that. And from inside Beth’s house, if I hold the camera up in the living room, it can reach over the outside wall around her house and can get the street. So I did get a few pictures of the town…nothing spectacular, but at least some of the dust!
I’m still feeling good. I’m trying to drink more water – since I keep having this headache that I think I’ve determined means I’m dehydrated, or at least not drinking as much as I should. I had the same type of feeling in Riverland. It’s not like any other headache I’ve ever had, and isn’t very bad…it seems it helps to drink water. So I’m doing that. Beth has two cats, so I’ve been sneezing and blowing my nose more than I’d like to be doing – but all well. That could be contributing some to the headache. I’ve tried not to touch my eyes, so, so far they haven’t been itchy or been a problem. And I’ve stayed as far away from the cats as I can.
Oh, the weird thing – they drive on the RIGHT side of the road, like America. So strange. But their cars have steering wheels on both sides of the car – so it’s really confusing!
Also, Beth said she met someone today who said they used the ATM on the other side of town several times and it worked – so we will try that tomorrow.
They have electricity for about 3 hours every night. That’s it. Beth said at one time they had it for 24 hours/day for about 2 weeks straight. Then at other times, it was every third night for maybe 3-4 hours.
Jen asked me if had any impressions overall about the city/place yet, I said, “dry, quiet, dusty, open, calm, peaceful…” – that’s about as far as I got. Honestly, it is really peaceful here and calm. It’s almost quieter than Kahan! Of course today is Friday –their “Sunday” where everything is closed. But, still, it’s pretty quiet around here.
Well, this is completing 8 pages and I’ve only been here a little more than 24 hours. And yet, I still feel like I’m not writing everything I could!!! I just want to take it all in, and keep it here so that later when I’ve lost all the initial impressions I can look back and remember!