Barefoot in a hammock. My feet have been up in there for a few hours now, my body tries to recover from sickness.
“Here, for your stomach.” I open my eyes and look into the beautifully wrinkled face of ‘Momma’. I don’t remember her real name, everyone on this side of the island calls her Momma. She rubs a creamy substance on my belly. “This is what we use if we fever or belly sick,” she explains in her thick Creole accent. “We Rama-people help ourselves.” I smile and nod.
The smell of the cream brings back memories. My mother always rubbed tiger balm on my chest when I was sick, the smell is so similar. I never liked to be sick, I always found it a waste of time. But my body tends to be sensitive, especially when it comes to foreign environments. The first week of this trip went so well, I was surprised by how strong I felt even after unfamiliar foods and very short nights. But two days ago, my body had enough and crashed. Unfortunately, this happened in the middle of the ocean, while we were in a small fishers boat between high salt-water waves. Seasickness, a burning sun, dehydration, lack of sleep and my low-blood sugar problems were the ingredients of a perfect recipe for a small disaster. While I was unconscious for nearly 30 minutes, my team did everything they could to get me back (and in their words; “keep me alive”). Obviously, there’s no hospital located in the middle of the ocean, but Harmonie, one of the team members with some medical training, took the lead and made sure my breathing stayed somewhat regular. The boat went as fast as possible to the nearest island, where they dragged me on shore and carried me to stable ground. Luckily, Harmonie recognized the symptoms of low blood sugar shock, so she gave me an effective treatment. After massaging my cramped up limbs, pouring sugar water in my mouth and cooling me down as much as possible, I slowly came back.
Obviously, all of the above is only known to me because of my team’s reports and some videos that were taken of the whole event. All I remember is waking up to a sight that I found pretty hilarious. Under a palm tree I saw four people massaging my hands and feet, while others waving air to me and praying quietly, all with very worried faces. I guess it had been scarier for them than it was for me. Thanks to their care, I was able to get up again within an hour, but my energy didn’t fully come back to me since then.
So here I am, sitting in a hammock on a porch, feeling like all strength has been sucked out of me. I’m frustrated, I had to stay back today because the boat ride to the other church would be too risky for me. It’s yet another mission trip in which I’m restricted in what I can do because my body is too weak. I’m missing my team, they’re miles away doing ministry in Bankuku. I’m ready to get breakthrough in my health, so I can go into the nations like I’m called to. But detesting my body for not being strong enough is not going to make me better. I’ve always learned important lessons while being sick and this time won’t be an exception. Being sick or feeling tired is never an excuse to have a bad attitude.
I look around. This must be the best scenery of a sick day; the wind, the waves, the ocean view, tweeting of birds, the loving care of the Rama-family. My body makes me slow down to the pace of the island and get into the rhythm of their daily life. As I have to take a step back, I’m allowed to slip into the background a bit more. It gives me the beautiful opportunity to observe them and see who they are when we are not around. As I did this for the last couple of days, I realize more and more that they are just like us and we are just like them. As I observe their daily life, the line between them and us fades. Their life goes on when we’re not there. It’s not a new and revelatory insight, but it sometimes is a forgotten aspect when you’re coming in as a missionary or ministry team. I’m being reminded about some words that God told me months ago. “Don’t try to be their savior. Me as their only One is more than enough.”
In the end, I don’t want to be the hero of the story. I want God to be. I want them to be. I don’t have to come up with keys and solutions for their problems or propel them into change. All the resources needed for their development is hidden in their own land and their own soil of their heart. Not having to be the rescuer takes the pressure off. Seeing them as equal makes me able to learn from them. My body’s weakness made me slow down and threw me back to the basics of simply operating as a daughter of God. I don’t have something to bring to bring change. I have Someone to bring to release love. People don’t need to be changed, they need to be loved. So I let myself slow down, give my body the rest it needs to recover and give my eyes the time it needs to see with this perspective. And besides, who can say that you spend a whole day and night alone on an island with only the locals? Barefoot in a hammock on a porch with an ocean view. I’ll be just fine.
This post is part 6 of a series of blog posts ‘Nicarama14′ about my mission trip to Nicaragua.
It’s also part of the ‘barefoot’-series, which will be accompanied by an iPhone snapshot of the place where I wrote it in my travel journal. Read all of the other posts here.