This morning I drove up the beach to a spot where friends visiting here from Northern Ireland were taking their baby for a swim. I have actually been to the sea with this couple before, while visiting them in Northern Ireland. Their son had not been born. They were so gracious and inviting and real. They taught me how to have proper tea. We ate really good chocolate and watched “Enchanted” and sang along. We cooked together and prayed together and laughed together. They are teaching here in the mission school. They’ve started a church in Northern Ireland that started out of a small home group where they simply did life together. They want to go to Cambodia. They want to bring children out of trafficking. We caught up a little while their son wiggled and ate a breakfast roll with jam. He is a typical one year old, bites in both hands, mouth overly full.
They left for a meeting and I realized that this was one of the first times I had been alone with the ocean view and nowhere to be for another 45 minutes. I ordered lunch; a Greek salad and a pizza. The Greek salad is mostly for the Feta cheese. I crave dairy. The olives are black with pits and rather ordinary, but are a salty treat. The pizza here is a guilty pleasure. It is simple, thin, gooey and inexpensive. I stared at the ocean and then chubby tourists in bikinis haggling with the jewelry sellers on the beach. I try to look local, so I take out my phone and actually have a few texts so I write those people back. My friends have asked for bleach. We’ve been out of water for awhile- don’t ask. I look at my watch. The shops are closed. I try a nearby barraca. They don’t have any. But they have laundry detergent and sardines, which the owner offers me in its place. At this particular barraca I didn’t even have to get off the scooter, the owner came out to me. I am just even now realizing how this scooter/motorcycle thing was a childhood dream of mine. I always pretended that my bike was so much more than what it really was. I wanted to be Ponch or John and ride my motorcycle to save good guys from bad guys. Not only did I want to BE them, I also wanted to marry them. This is one of the pleasures of being a girl, you get to be the hero and marry one. And now I laugh at the comedy of this plastic scooter and oversized helmet and how she never starts on the first push of my heel and how utterly unladylike and so not glamorous it all is or isn’t. But I scoot around like I am saving the world from bad guys even though I am just trying to find bleach for a waterless toilet.
I go to class where the students are studying dehydration, diarrhea and malaria. They are taught how to make rehydration solution. They make some and taste it. They learn about fever and take my temperature. It was 36. After class I jump back on the scooter. She cranks successfully after making me look really dumb, using all that I have got to give her life, hair in face, lots of sweat. I have learned to crank her side-saddled-ish. I don’t even bother getting on until I know she is alive. I simply stand and use the foot start crank thingy and can do this a little more daintily, and powerfully, while standing. I am learning. We scoot off to find bleach. I have been given directions to a shop. The directions include “turn at tree”. I find the shop and it is open. They don’t have bleach but they do have ice cream. But it is crazy expensive and not at all natural, made with vegetable fat and expired last month. I put it back. Defeated, I bought some mango juice and left. I then scanned pedestrians on the way home for the notorious yellow vested ones. As I knew I would, I spotted one and putted up beside him and made my transaction in Portuguese without dismounting my untrusty stallion. I scootered home and met with Steve and two students helping us form curriculum and write out our long and short term goals and our objectives. And this is not make-believe. It is real world. And I live here. And our dreams are taking shape and our conversations all come down to relationship and our ultimate desires to, out of relationship, friendship, discipleship, simply turn the mirror and show these kids what we see in them. It is exciting and frightening at the same time. But I am (incredibly humbly) the hero and I am married to the Hero and the story has a very good ending.