Lessons & Blessings from March
This post was written by one of our Solace Missionaries, Tawnya Jackson.
A Sad Lesson Learned
On a recent trip to Abidjan, we decided one night to go to a new mall to explore. Moses, a friend that works with 1040i, was with us since it would be dark once we finished and it might not be safe for us to be out. We had bought some groceries in one of the stores and had a bag of potatoes that were in a mesh type of sack. Jeff put it on the conveyer belt and got dirt from the potatoes everywhere. The cashier was not happy and told him to take them off, which left a big pile of dirt on the belt. I took my hand and was brushing it all into a pile so it didn’t spread and she told me to stop. She then had a rag and held it out to clean it with, but refused to give it to me. Instead, she pointed it at Moses and told him to do it. I was absolutely heartbroken and angry. I felt like she thought that he was there with us as our servant. Moses assured me that he doesn’t feel that way and that is was ok, but it still brought tears to my eyes. A few days later I was sharing this with Somé, he told me that in this culture, Moses was expected to offer to clean it because he is young. It did make me feel a little bit better about the particular situation but I am painfully aware that it’s not only in America where black and white are subjected to judgement. I hate it. We are pointed at, laughed at, and stared at daily in this country. It is hurtful for me, but doesn’t seem to phase Jeff. I find myself more and more longing for the day when there will be no more hurt or tears or prejudice. Until that day, I will just keep praying for the people that see colors instead of other people.
Spreading the Word
On March 13, Jeff, Pastor Paul and I left our house at about 6:40 AM to go to a nearby village (nearby meaning 30 minutes, but only 10 miles) to talk to the village elders about the orphanage. One of them told us that they had many orphans in their village so Paul had to explain to them that space would be limited. There were a few of the older women in the “meeting” as well. One particular lady had a precious little girl with her. She had the most beautiful eyes (as they all do really)! After speaking to her in Koulongo, Paul informed us that she was an orphan. Immediate tears in this momma. Her little dress was tattered and torn, too small, and very dirty. Just when I thought my heart was getting stronger and not being so soft, I met this little girl. I wanted to just take here right then and put her in the spare bedroom in my house. Tomorrow, we will be doing the same thing in 2 more villages.
An Important Ceremony
On March 17, Jeff and I along with Diane (our English tutor and teacher at the Tanda Bilingual Academy) were invited to attend a faire la dot, or giving of the dowry. This is normally a family only event so for us to be included was a tremendous honor. The bride and groom have been engaged for 9 years…yes, 9 years! The ceremony was set to begin at 9:00 AM and we finally began at 11 AM. Africans have a very different sense of time. The groom came out of the church (we were sitting under a massive tree behind the church as it was a breezy beautiful day) dressed in traditional tribal attire. His family was in attendance on one side of the yard while the bride’s family was on the other side. There is a spokesman for each family. Each side greeted the other, several times. They began with asking “what is the news," even though they know exactly why the groom’s family was there. After we all received the news, the men started engaging in a comical exchange regarding the groom searching for his “pearl." When the bride came out, she was joined by three other women who were dressed as she was with their heads covered with fabric so you couldn’t see anything but their feet. The groom had to pick the correct girl, which he did. It was very entertaining and you could tell that they were extremely happy.
We have had a really blessed month. It is exciting that Solace has begun the furnishing campaign as well as announced the MISSION TANDA trip in November. If you have been feeling that God is calling you to do something, please, we encourage you to participate in a trip. You will be getting to spend one on one time with the children of the Solace Family Home as well as get out into surrounding villages for service projects. The kids house has to be furnished before the government inspectors begin their inspections and tours. Pastor Paul, the Home's Director, has already begun the legal processes and he and Jeff met with the judge in Bondoukou last week. Please, pray that we get the funds necessary to furnish the house and that all procedures run smoothly. We want to be ready to house children by the end of August!
As always, we thank you all for joining in our journey. We love you and can’t wait to see you, whether on our furlough in July or here in November.