Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The first 5 days back in Zambia have been a whirlwind. It took a couple of days for me to get my brain all the way here (I think my body arrived a little faster).
The circumstances are different. Sophie and I are still working for GEMS, but even our role in that has changed. We are staying for a shorter time period (June), living in a different area, and find ourselves surrounded by a vastly different and diverse group of people.
One thing I very much lacked last year in Zambia was fellowship. It’s amazing how much a person can miss living in community, even when surrounded by people. We lived in the heart of a Zambian compound and our house was always full of Zambian women and children. How wonderful, right? But what I didn’t know that I would miss was a community of people who could enjoy a plate of spaghetti with me, or someone that I could talk fast to. I didn’t know I would wish for a group of people to laugh with me or to invite me over for the night. I didn’t know I would, but I did--I longed for familiarity.
This time around the setting has changed. We are living on the the campus of a seminary here in Lusaka. There are families scattered amongst the big shade trees and grassy lawns. We have mzungus (even American ones) inviting us over for dinner or to lunch every day. There are students and professors working and going to class. We even have access to the internet from the library. It is all so very different.
Every new thing takes a little getting used to. It is a very nice place, almost entirely free of the dust that always took over our previous home. It is shady and green. It is QUIET. There are absolutely zero knocks on our gate. There is community.
I’m realizing that while all of the people, the noise, the dust, the lack of privacy, and the constant harassment that comes with being a mzungu did wear me out and push me to the point of insanity (at times), I REALLY miss that. I miss the smelly, dirty, runny-nosed, no-pants, kids that would knock on our gate at all hours of the day until we answered-maybe for water, maybe for a sweet.
The fact of the matter is just that--it’s different. This change has also helped me realize that there are different types of community that I love to be a part of and usually cannot be experienced in the same place. If I want to hang out with North Americans, then I have to live where they live and live like they do. If I want to enjoy the children and be at the heart of the Zambian culture, then I have to struggle through the chaos of living right in the middle of a compound. Either way community is a part of my life and I’m getting to know people, they’re just different.