Fortresses without fences and walls
A few days ago I got an email from someone in Africa who had been reading my blog. He asked why I have been so silent since I had gotten home. It was a good question.
There are reasons. I took time to reconnect with family, including my wife. A few weeks before our 33rd wedding anniversary we took a weekend in North Dakota. Why North Dakota? A couple of years ago when we had gone to the northwestern states of Washington and Oregon, I had accomplished a goal of visiting all 48 contiguous United States. After that my wife, Dawn, realized that she had been with me to most of them, but that she was missing North Dakota. It was not a high priority, but we finally filled that gap.
The next weekend I was honored to do the marriage ceremony of a former student on Saturday. The next day we took a one day trip to Kansas City for our granddaughter Cady’s first birthday party. Eleven hours of driving for five hours of family time, but well worth it, especially since our youngest daughter, Shanna, was also there from Chicago.
The next day we jumped into faculty meetings to prepare for teaching the upcoming semester. I returned to preaching at Living Water Community Church. Then we had the Week of Welcome for new and returning students, classes starting, our anniversary on Friday, August 28, and preaching again on Sunday. I have fully jumped back into the pace of American life.
Yet things are different after the Zambia experience. I have taken a few walks around my small community and tried to look at it with the same eyes I used to look at Ndola. What often struck me in Ndola was the difference between the wealthier areas and the poorer ones. The wealthier areas were walled in and often felt lifeless. In the poorer areas I saw the poverty and need, but I also saw community and heard the joyful life of children. I am glad that my community does not have all the walls and fences. I am thankful to live in a peaceful, safe place where there is not a great deal of fear. Yet the houses still feel like fortresses, just without the walls and fences. We still hole up in our boxes. Although a few people are out walking, mostly we still isolate ourselves from each other in our even smaller moving boxes. I miss walking with Zambians.
Although I am a city boy and have had some issues adjusting to small town life in a farming area, I am learning to appreciate the beauty of farming. This has been an incredible growing season. There has been plenty of rain. Although the crop is a little behind schedule, I am told, it looks wonderfully prosperous. I have heard that the corn is up to thirteen feet tall in some places. I am not sure soy bean plants are supposed to be three to four feet tall. It is wondrous to look over the verdant fields of green covering the gently rolling hills. Nothing in Zambia looked like this. I am not sure if many places in the world are this fertile. I hope we can share this crop with the world.
I hope to now change my direction and purpose. Over the summer I was a reporter and commentator on Zambia to mostly Americans, with a few Zambians listening in. Now maybe I can share Sioux Center, Iowa with Zambians and a few others listening in. the goal is the same, to share the adventure in a way that looks for God in the variety of his world and seeks to serve to be an ambassador of his Good News.