A normal experience for me when I come to Africa is realizing how much I do not know. As Americans we move so fast…always doing, always fixing, always trying to solve some problem, and very little listening. I don’t care how much we practice, how much we think we listen, I am convince we simply do not listen enough. Going into a disaster situation people are hurt emotionally and physically, and sometimes all they need to do is get it out. Disaster situation or not, when emotional conversation starts there is always context. Today we experienced a lot of high emotions; both joyous and anger. We arrived at the compound (which I now know is referred to as “Services”) this morning at about 8:30. Rewind for a second…we arrived after the most bumpy drive I have ever experienced. My kidneys still hurt! Back to Services. Harvey and I received our marching orders and headed to Crab Town to deliver water filters with the team. Crab town is a costal community on the river that flooded.
We arrived at Crab Town and walked along the river through people’s houses. Bedrooms were flooded, full of debris, and were caked with red mud…this is real. We toured through the community and gathered all the residents to come to one main area. In the main area we trained the residents how to properly use the filters so they would last them 5-10 years. The team registered and verified people lived in the community and then we distributed buckets and filters. Harvey and I were able to serve the team and put together filters and help distribute. This was a large and desperate crowd full of emotions. At one point you could sense the tension and then a single individual walked by and started calling us out for being their just for show. Remember these are hurting people…hurt people, hurt people. There was nothing physical, just verbal but it was a good reminder to just pray…I spent the remaining time praying and taking pictures of the operation.
From there we went back to Services and chilled out for a bit; we were hot, sweaty, and burned…oops. About 5:30 we took off with Saidu and visited a sight by the river where a cement platform was built for a water tank. The community leader at this location took us to a place by the river where they collected 65 bodies last week. As we were viewing this location a local resident grabbed Saidu and took us to his house. It was a disaster and he had received no help yet. Turns out this was a guy who was making trouble at Services the day before. Guess what? Hurt people, hurt people. Saidu NEVER got mad at him and simply listened so the man could get it out. He understood he was hurting, because he had lost everything. This was convicting to me…I need to listen and not respond! Saidu promised him that we would be back the next day and I guarantee you, we will be. There was know way this was by chance, this was a divine appointment.
Our day ended with a nice dinner with Saidu. I am more convinced today that we should give people an attentive ear, turn our cheek the other way if necessary, and when they are finished show them the love of the Father. Even when they do not deserve it, because that is exactly what grace is! Grace shows love and does not respond in a like manner. I am not saying we allow ourselves to get run over, I am suggesting we slow down, we listen, look past the emotion, and simply respond with love and truth.
Thank you for the prayers. Please pray for Saidu and his team, they need your prayers and support!