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Creekbank Stories: Stories Worth Telling
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Is it a sin to have a “I Hate Africa Day”?
I hope not.
Because from time to time I don’t love Africa.
There are some days when I long to be back at The Old House in Dry Creek.
Back among the familiar and family touchstones of my fifty-eight years.
I’ll admit it: There are times and days when I don’t love Africa.
Recently I had an “I hate Africa Day.”
Here’s a short recap: We were in northern Uganda.
It’d been a long emotional day in a huge refugee camp.
I’m not a picky eater but the supper that night featured a piece
of chicken that was as tough as it was raw. I left hungry.
The better guesthouses in the town were filled by UN and Aid workers.
We stayed at a cheap guesthouse that was cheap for a reason.
The rain really broke loose just as we lugged our packs in.
My rain gear was in the bottom of a box in the back of the Land Cruiser.
By the time DeDe and I got to the porch, we were soaked.
The guesthouse wasn’t clean. In honor of the bathroom, I
nicknamed it the “Sticky Floor Hotel.”
Bob swore it operated part-time as a brothel.
There was no hot water, but we hadn’t expected it.
Electricity was spotty. Just like we expected.
It was stifling under the mosquito net.
Being hot or skeeter bit has no good options.
I was wet. Tired. Hungry. And Hot. Not a good combination.
I didn’t handle it well. The situation had gotten my goat.
My bucket was full.
And I was ready to dump it. I was unhappy and angry.
But most of all, I was ashamed.
Ashamed of my attitude. I was laying on the bed with the pattering rain on the tin roof. I didn’t have one ounce of gratitude or spiritual peace in me.
We’d just left thousands of South Sudanese who had no shelter from the storm. I had a roof over my head and a bed to lie on.
We’d watched a long line of pail-carrying women waiting for food.
An equally snaky channel of yellow jerry cans and tall thin Dinka ladies hoping for clean water.
Back at the Sticky Floor Hotel, I was being a bad sport.
My wife, who is an angel, gave me as much space as our cramped room
I’m not happy about it, but I was having an “I Hate Africa Day.”
Or in this case, a Night.
As I tried to sleep,
I thought about Ol’ Paul and Silas in the Philippi jail. Singing at midnight.
Then Shipwrecked Paul. He was cold. Tired. Wet. And hungry.
Built a fire to dry out and got a snake bite.
That’s reason for a full- fledged”I-Hate-The-Mediterranean-Day” (or Month.)
Yet Paul used each occasion to share the Gospel and heal folks.
I was acting more like Elijah after the Mt. Carmel episode.
I was hunting a cave to hide in for a few days (or weeks.)
But the sun came up the next morning.
I went outside and made a pot of fresh coffee on our camping stove.
A group of children came through the parking lot picking up peanut-sized pods that had fallen from a large tree.
They reminded me of a flock of geese foraging over a rice field.
“It’s what’s for breakfast! Collecting termite ants. They’re a crunchy African treat!
The oldest child held up a bucket of the pods. He smiled and said in broken English, “Porridge for breakfast.”
As the coffee water boiled,
I began humming an old song, “Picking up PawPaws Putting them in your pocket.”
I was back in love with Africa.
5 Take aways on a “I Hate Africa Day.”
- Those days and moments will come.
- Those times will pass.
- We should expect them, but not wallow in them.
- These times will hit us hardest when we are tired, wet, hungry, and hot/cold.
- In times like these, we must go back to Our Call.
A young missionary so aptly told me,
“In the end, our Call is to Him.
Everything else is just geography.”
It’s one’s Call that will keep you in the saddle when everything else screams to quit.
Amen and amen.