Well, the day has arrived! Rachel, Adam and I fly to New Zealand tonight. Hannah and Steve's folks will pick us up at the airport. Lots of hugs ahead! Steve will come with Aaron in 11 days after Aaron's school finishes for the year. We're looking forward to some time as a family.
There are always mixed feelings, of course. I haven't wrapped my mind around the fact that I won't be back here until January and that Rachel won't be with us when we return.
When we're in NZ or the US it's hard to believe that this place exists and when we're here it's hard to believe that places like NZ and the US exist. Living here has become relatively normal so as I've contemplated the coming months it's made my eyes 'fresh' to see what's around me every day. People often tell us we should post more pictures but it's difficult when we live here and are part of the community. It seems even more invasive towards them when we don't appreciate constantly blocking men from taking photos of our daughter on their phones! So here are some mental snapshots instead......
A couple of days ago I was walking with Adam along a back lane. We came to a neighborhood rubbish tip/dump. It was about 10 X 20 feet and exactly what you'd imagine: a bunch of smelly garbage dumped there by the nightly street sweepers who had swept up the refuse that people had left in places around the streets. The rubbish tip is emptied occasionally.
What caught our eyes was a large, reddish cow contentedly eating away on top of the rubbish totally unconcerned by the people walking past. A number of huge, black crows were using it's back as a perch while a couple of roosters scavenged around it's feet. Remember this is in the middle of a city!
We crossed a road and came to an area where industrial sized cooking pots are made and beaten into shape by hand on the right. To the left were about 20 of these which are rented out each day to lungi clad often barefoot men who do backbreaking work hauling loads for hire.
Immediately after was an even more populated area of ancient buildings for housing with narrow lanes snaking in between. It was the usual hustle and bustle of people coming and going, purchasing things or chatting at little hole in the wall (literally) shops and stopping to bow or place flowers at Hindu shrines. We passed the sad sight near home of the closest brothel just up the road. It's one of the lower cost ones where about 8 women in their 30's and 40's sat on little stools outside waiting for men to choose them to take turns in a few rooms inside. If we had taken a small lane to the right we would have seen other similar doorways. About 100 meters further up the road we were at the building where we live.
I wasn't sure how to explain why we need to go to NZ to the women of FS, but yesterday morning I gave it a shot. They never like it when the foreigners go away for a while. Their world is totally here and they can't imagine being so fickle as to come and go. When I sometimes take my turn to teach at the morning devos I still have someone translate for me. I have OK conversational language now but that's still beyond me! I can think of what to say alone in my own home, but get muddled when in front of them. Since I knew the women wouldn't like us leaving, however, I wanted to tell them directly in their language. I wrote it out beforehand and read it to them before the day started.
I looked out on all those faces that we love and was sad to go but overwhelmed with joy at the same time because they were sitting there free from the chains of the trade. I chatted a bit with the new girl that I talked about a couple of posts ago and loved looking at the open smile on her face and the sparkle in her eyes. I am so grateful that she isn't experiencing what many of the other women have. Some of the older ones will never sparkle like her again. They are making the most of the lives that they have but they are still emotionally scared, physically scared from beatings and struggle with disease every day that they picked up in the trade.
But they have Hope!