considering compassion




I recall writing at the start of the blog that I would be transparent with my thoughts… what you get will be the good, bad and the ugly.  Hopefully more good than ugly, but in wanting to share the journey I also want the journey to be sincere, real and authentic. Surely, as in life anywhere, there will be some days full of joy and excitement but there are also other days that are tiring and hard. Today, a melancholy mood had befallen me born from the weariness of pilgriming Kenya these last months, living out of suitcases, figuring out what to make with ingredients consisting of an egg, red onion and sugar and flour (any recipes are welcome!)  I was plain grumpy really and it was the worst sort, because I was in denial about it, until Luke confessed that he was also grumpy and we plotted together to be grumps for a while, but to hopefully work each other into a better mood by the end of it.

Sitting now, beneath my mosquito net due to the rain (of termites), Jay walking around “dooming” (bug spraying..on his third can now) the place while the critters snap and pop under his feet….I am not sure if my mood has lifted or not.  Part of the mood is due to the guilt associated with the nagging voice of “you shouldn’t be in a bad mood”.  Of course the counsellor in me rationalizes that I should not try to ignore or avoid the mood, but rather validate and perhaps find positive ways or coping strategies to overcome it. Reward is a good strategy and well, I often reward myself with a trip to the fridge to get a sip of soda or eat a hob nobs cookie.  But there is a sense of guilt as well, the thought that I have so much why should I complain or feel weary.

Part of the weariness stems from the fact that inconspicuous is not a state of being for a muzungu in Africa.  With the exception of South Africa, any white person either endures or enjoys the fact that here, in this place, we stand apart, we get noticed. (Personally, I think Jesse feels he is a rock star,- today he was preened by 20 girls in grade 4,5 and 6 all touching and caressing his skin and hair.  He just sat in his buggy with a toothy grin and an occasional wave “hi”)  But for those of us who are older than 5, we are the centre of a sub-economy of it’s own.  The wazungu exchange.  I realized this as we entered our tuk-tuk for a ride to visit Fort Jesus.  Our Tuk Tuk driver was quickly on his mobile and soon after we were picking up another passenger who was unbeknownst to us, our tour guide for our visit.  We leave the compound we are staying at and hear the calls of “wazungu”, or beckoned by the singing of a song from the Lion King “Hakuna matata” assuming that as a tourist this is the only Swahili that we know.  We are asked for money, assistance, school funds. We are stared at, touched, beckoned, begged from and followed.   We have “made friends” with nearly everyone in the neighbourhood.  So today, I realized that I didn’t want to make any more friends today.  I was weary of conversing, weary of saying “pole, sinahaja leo bwana” (sorry, I do not need that today Mr.) “Hapana, sinapenda kununua leo, asante” (no, I do not like to buy today thank you).  I wish I could say, “Sorry but I am not a millionaire, just a simple missionary.  I did not come to bring you money, but something greater, Jesus”  But in that moment of angst, I probably wouldn’t be the best representation of Jesus.

I am wonderstruck at how did He do it?  How did Jesus attend to the masses, comfort the weary, heal the sick, encourage the brokenhearted?  I  am sure Jesus was as much of (and more) of a spectacle as wazungu are in Africa. He stood apart, he could not get by unnoticed.  With secret whispers and pointing fingers and people caressing the hem of his gown or requesting healings or help or guidance. How did He manage? It is said throughout the Gospels, that He had compassion. Matthew’s account (Matthew 14)  It paints a picture of Jesus, weary and saddened by the news that his cousin John had just been  killed, needing to get away He withdraws to a private solitary place, but the crowds follow HIm. Did He think, Aw cm’on,- just a moment please!, let me be to grieve, to rest, to have some peace. But, I can only but wonder at how He responds to the people,

” When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (14)

And I pray that I too could have the kind of compassion that is able to see people, to really see them. To love unceasingly, unremittingly, unconditionally. …even to the point of putting my needs and desire for rest and peace and anonymity aside for a while so I can show love.  So pray for me, for us, for other missionaries that you know.  It is often a challenging thing to be the person that stands out (for us introverts anyway) and we need to have genuine compassion that is deeper than the mere hope to help, or desire to bring change.  I think many people come here and hope to help, or “bring change” or interventions, few people come here to love.

“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against another.  Forgive as theLord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace and be thankful…and whatever you do, whether in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col 3:12-15

 Picture from today,- the kids swimming in the Indian Ocean… I think the Sunday SpectacleDSCN7507