8pm Sunday October 18 – 12th day – The Intrusive God and His Sounds
So, one more week, to the day. One week from this moment I’ll be flying to Dakar, and then to DC.
Last night I’m buying a coke at the bar to go with my dinner, and Marie, the hotel manager is there and she tells me I should buy her a beer. She says it’s her birthday. So I buy her a beer. Maybe it really was her birthday.
This morning I went to church, only just me and four of the kids, and they have Sunday school (I think? They leave and then come back) so I’m all alone in this church, constantly pointed out as the visitor who they have to use English for, which makes me slightly uncomfortable. Only towards the end the guy who wasn’t there last week is asking me to say a few words because I won’t be coming back. I’m not even kidding. I have audio of all of this. So I stand up and say a few words while he translates into Bemba.
He’s not done. He wants me to give the closing prayer. The closing prayer for the entire church. Um, ok. Maybe they don’t realize how uncomfortable that might make a person. Maybe they’re that comfortable. So I stand up to pray. You only live once, right? Besides, through my accent and the fact that I’m speaking English, who’s going to notice if I screw up. And I prayed. And it was good.
One of the pastors wants to set up a meeting with me this week, which is nice and all but… uh, why? I mean, I get it, I think. Tending the flock, delivering a message of love back to America maybe? I can’t tell. They have good hearts. That’s all that really matters.
On the walk to church, Steven, one of the kids, asks me why I voted for Barack Obama and not the white guy. Basically trying to figure out why I’d vote black over white. So I tried my best to explain that I wasn’t voting based on black or white but on whether I thought they were good people. But that was a nice moment of honesty about how a kid in Zambia, with a history of oppression (I mean, what place doesn’t have a history of oppression of some type or another) and where a white minority once dominated a black majority, is trying to figure out why I’d like a black guy to be in charge instead of a white guy. And it’s a good moment to maybe communicate to him that there isn’t a difference between white and black. So I’m thankful for that.
One thing I really love about being here is the quiet that can exist. I’ve been living in cities for a while now, and even when not in a city there’s always noise. The noise of things, of distraction, of televisions left on in different rooms. Here, at least when I’m not at the lodge, where the bar pumps music for the last 12 hours of every day or so, I can be out on the road or sitting in the yard of the orphanage and there is a beautiful stillness. The soft chirp of a bird, the hum of crickets and the absence of intrusion. It’s incredibly peaceful if you stop to hear it.