Dust to Dust/ Children

Written by | January, 2014
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FROM THE FIELD                                                          March 27, 2013
You are receiving this initial  newsletter of my experiences and observations up close and personal from the mission field. If you do not wish to receive it, just let me know.  It don’t make me no nevermind. I will not be offended.
Comparisons – Dust to Dust
My folks lived through  what was called the ‘dirty 30’s’ which was when due to drought  conditions dust was blowing around and getting into houses when you  would not otherwise expect it. While in Nigeria we saw what is called harmattan. This is  when the dust off the Sahara Desert is blown south and obscures the air  so that things are hazy. Even though we were well south of the Sahara it affected us also. Sometimes airports would be closed due to the haze. This happened around the turn of the year.  When we would return to our house after being gone for a while, there  was a very noticeable coat of dust over everything. Some people got a  cough and a catarrh from it. Every cloud has a silver lining though. When the dust obscures the hot sun rays it is a  good deal lower in temperature than normal.
When we moved our  residence overseas to India, I didn’t expect to see a coat of dust again like that. Well, when I am gone and come back there is a good coat of  dust over everything. Living on the seventh floor, maybe that allows the wind to whip around  and send dust and pollution into the flat. The thing is this happens  even when all windows are shut up! So it is a little taste of the dirty  30’s living in the big city.
When in the village, we  would have children peering in through our screened back veranda to get a glimpse of what we were up to. You can’t blame them for the curiosity.  The children would come and go in the compound having free access as we had no gate  to lock. Like the adults too they might call out to us: afia owo( white  man), mbakara(European), Qua Ibo(a name of the first missions coming  into this region). That was not a problem for me. The children were friendly as well as curious.
One day when I was  working at putting up screens and a framework to hold them on our back  veranda a little boy maybe 6 or so came and watched me. Before long he  would hand me things he thought I needed. This was a pleasant prospect. So I had him  help me. Since he couldn’t talk, he would grunt or make some audible  noise. His father was a local preacher at a pentecostal church, the  whoopin’ and hollerin’ church I called them as they would go long into the night with their exuberance. In the village  sounds carried far at night, so their goin’s on was noted. I guess that  (according to their theology) the kid did not have enough faith to be  healed by his dad, or maybe the dad did not have enough faith.(sarcasm) I enjoyed the little feller’s help. One day when  we came back from furlough I found that the preacher had gone to another parish with my little helper.
In our apartment  building in Chennai we have got a gate for the grounds. To go beyond the security you have to sign a book, so that we sure don’t have kids  wandering in. In the cramped parking lot the kids from the apartments play cricket or other  games. Even in the lobby which is about 10×30 you might find around half a dozen children at play. But, and here is the big difference, they  ignore me like I was the invisible man walking through their midst. They also don’t really defer to me as I skirt  around them to go to the elevator. They aren’t impolite so much as  simply ignoring me. This is only a glance at how it is among the people  in the metropolis. They ignore you with their live and let live, go along/get along attitude.