Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday 13 - Things We Miss

Last Thursday we gave you a list of things we were enjoying in the US, and promised you a list of things we miss about Africa this week. So here we go...
  1. Mangoes. And coconuts and all that other good tropical fruit there. I could do with a mango guava smoothie right now that doesn't come from a flavored syrup bottle...
  2. Easy Philanthropy. There are always people who appreciate what we throw away. Or things we can give away easily without any sacrifice on our part. So we feel doubly good about passing things on rather than filling the landfill.
  3. Brilliant Flowers. Bougainvilleas, hibiscus, yellow trumpet flowers, plumeria, and all those other tropical blooms are just stunning.
  4. Obvious Blessings. When people around you are very visibly struggling just to get their next meal and survive, it is far easier to realize how incredibly blessed you are and how much you can offer to the world.
  5. Game Parks. We have a wildlife safari close to Roseburg, but it's not quite the same as Kruger National Park... And how often do you see a giraffe or zebra hanging out by the side of the road as you're driving to your doctor's appointment? (Granted, it is a three hour drive.)
  6. People. Wherever we went in Africa, there were people everywhere. Here, everyone is busy with his or her own thing. We might see people on the way to the next stop, but they are generally ensconced in vehicles or at least in a rush to get somewhere. Our first reaction on arriving back in the US is how the roads and sidewalks are so devoid of people.
  7. Rubber Stamps. Yep, we miss that "chop chop" everywhere you go. No document is official in Africa unless it has a stamp. Well, I'm pleased to say we got lots of little rubber stamps for 99 cents at the thrift store, and I've been getting lots of practice with them, so I'm all set to make everything official when I get back!
  8. Children at Play. You know how mothers used to let kids play in the neighborhood as long as we were back before dark? No paranoia, no constant monitoring? We long for that time though we would never grant it to OUR kids. But it still exists in Africa. Children run freely, and the sounds of play resound.
  9. Culture. The culture, the art, the music, the food, the colorful clothing. Babies dozing on backs and stately necks balancing large burdens. We appreciate it all, and we realize that the way we live is not the only way to live. It makes us more open-minded.
  10. Markets. It's actually kind of fun to see how low Papa can get a vendor to go with his price. Watching the street vendors with their many, varied, colorful wares - spreading them out to entice and then wrapping them all up again to move on to the next prospect - is fascinating.
  11. Ingenuity. It's also fun to see how people repair things and get the job done when they don't have the "right" tools and materials. I mean, it's hard to even get duct tape there sometimes. Or how about what you do when you don't have internet or electricity at times? That takes some creativity, too.
  12. Happiness. This is both a frustration and a blessing. The frustration is that people have low expectations of life. They don't push themselves to attain more, though it is well within their grasp. The blessing is that they don't expect more than they have, and so they are happy with what they have. In general...
  13. Miracles. Oh, there are miracles here in the US, that's for sure. But the fact seems to be that God's power shines brightest - it's His finest hour - when we are at our most vulnerable - our weakest. Here in the US, we all wear facades. You don't see our weaknesses unless you get really close. It's not so easy to hide flaws in Africa.

13 comments:

Elizabeth said...

a great list of 13. really gives me an extra picture of what it is like in Africa...would LOVE to visit someday.

Elizabeth said...

btw...thanks again for stopping by! :-)

DysFUNctional Mom said...

What a beautiful post.

Jennifer said...

I agree with you about #8. As I look around my townhome community and watch the kids and teenagers play, I wonder what kinds of friends my daughter will have in our own neighborhood. The teenagers are hanging all over each other. The younger boys are destroying property. And maybe worst of all, the little girls, just 6-7 years old, are teaching one another how to pop their booties!

Prasti said...

#13 is so true.

great list :)

One Mom said...

I especially like your comment:

"We appreciate it all, and we realize that the way we live is not the only way to live. It makes us more open-minded."

If only everyone could have this revelation, wouldn't the world be a better place!

Nadine said...

What a great post. I learned lots about Africa in reading it.

Thank you for stopping by my blog.

dani said...

being an empty vessel to be filled with the HOLY SPIRIT is the simplest way to happiness that i know, j. most americans today have no idea that to be weak is a good thing and that being a child of GOD equals success.
love,
dani

CC said...

Those things sound AWESOME!! I would miss them too!

Alice Audrey said...

I love mangos. You know they are hard to come by in Montana, but now and the the grocery store will have them. A smoothie sounds perfect right now.

Kelly said...

Wow that kids running free and happy thing sounds so wonderful. I'm sorry we don't live in an age/area like that anymore.

Z's Mom said...

What a great list. It seems a simpler life....and sometimes simple is better. :)

The Girl from Mozambique said...

Indeed!