Sunday, May 10, 2009

Not in Kansas Anymore...

It occurred to me today that there are several things I do now that seem quite normal in my daily routines, but which actually are new and incredibly different activities in the scope of my many years; things that I never dreamed I would be doing even a year and a half ago! This deep thought came to me this afternoon as I not only was I doing laundry for many children, but in the process of doing that laundry, I was dismantling mosquito nets in order to throw them in the washer. I can honestly say I never washed mosquito netting in California.

I always scan the sidewalks, lawns, sand, and verandas for snakes as I move around. Early in the morning, I carefully open metal security doors throughout the compound, watching for large spiders, frogs, creepy insects, and, of course..always!...snakes. Again, not typical Modesto-type actions.

When I drive, I use the horn freely. I honk at the taxi in front of me, as it pulls half-way off the road without blinker or tail lights. I honk at the people who are walking on the road pavement (no sidewalks). I honk at the trucks barreling towards me with their tires on the white line. Never was a big honker before Liberia. Now, it is a matter of survival! Actually, one of the first questions a policeman will ask at an accident site is, "Did you use your whistle (horn)?"

I find myself imitating the "Curly bird." That is not it's real name; I do not know what it is actually called. But it is a big brown and black bird whose call is the same noise Curly of the Three Stooges know, "Whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop"....Curly's signature sound, which usually led to Moe bopping him on the head! These birds go through a series of "whoops" , and hence, we have named them "Curly birds." And this is the annoying sound I imitate when I hear the Curly birds calling to each other as they flit from tree to tree. Yep, I never did that in the Central Valley.

When someone complains of fever, radiating back pain, general body aches, chills, or cough, my first thought is "malaria?" I also know the cause and symptoms of typhoid fever. I have mixed several liter bottles of Oral Re-Hydration Solution (ORS) to offset the effects of "runny tummy." I have seen, and treated, scabies. Whenever people have been in Africa for a time, they take malaria and parasite medicine before going back to the states. These conditions are not regular health issues in the U.S. and may not be readily diagnosed there.

I marvel at the sky daily: clouds billowing up into the high heavens. Thunder in the distance is noted, but not a huge concern. Coconut trees bending with gusts of wind and the sound of ocean waves colliding with the beach are normal background events. Swallows circling the house at dusk and crepe myrtle bushes growing wild in the jungle are expected. Papaya and mango trees loaded with fruit; tidy rows of pineapple plants; nicely hoed cassava farms: not what one would encounter in Stanislaus County.

It also occurs to me what a big, diverse world our God has made. With THAT deep thought, I think I will pack some fresh pineapple and mangoes, and talk Dave into sitting at the beach for awhile. Time to enjoy God's goodness!

Wishing you all a wonderful week,