Friday, January 28, 2011

The Unknown Visitor

Monday, I gave Patrick, our watchman, some candy canes for his kids. A few days later, he asked me about the "sticks" I had given him.

He said, "How do you eat those sticks?"

I explained about peeling off the plastic and then sucking or chewing on them. My guess is the plastic was the thing throwing them off. I'll bet they thought I gave them some dud candy.

I tell that story to set you up for this one...

You need to remember how different our cultures and experiences are.

Here we go...

Tonight as I greeted Patrick, I asked him about his day. He told me he had driven his grandfather deep into Congo to visit relatives.

That may sound pretty simple to you, but let me tell you what Patrick drives...a bicycle.

I KNOW he must have been worn out.

He carried his grandfather SEVERAL kilometers into Congo, returned home, and then came straight to my house several kilometers...on his bike.

Then, he proceeded to tell me that his home place had a visitor last night.

Knowing he was watching my place last night and not his, I said, "Was it someone bad? Is everyone okay?"

He said, "Yes, this is what we say when a baby has come."

Of course I was ecstatic! I knew his wife was expecting, but I didn't know it was to be so soon. Besides, when I had asked him at an earlier time where his wife would deliver, he told me about a local hospital that is about 5 kilometers or more from his house.

I said, "Will you drive her?"

Of course, I meant, on his bicycle.

Picture this with me, all you ladies that have gone through labor pains. Would you consider, even for a second, taking a ride to the hospital on the back of a bike across pitted dirt roads? I think not!

But his response surprised me in more ways than one. He said, "I will take her part of the way on my bicycle. But the hospital gets mad if you show up riding on something. They want you to walk the baby out, so I will have to let her walk the last bit."

I don't know what my face looked like at that moment, but the words going on in my mind could not and should not make it out of my mouth.

Make a mental note, Kathryn: Do not deliver here in Arua, if by chance you get pregnant.

OK. On with my story.

I was ecstatic, remember?

Then I remembered that Patrick was at my house and not at home, so I asked who had driven her to the hospital.

He said, "She just had it at home."

OK, I didn't know what to say to that, because I'm guessing it was my family's fault that she didn't get to go to the hospital.

New topic.

"Is it a boy or a girl?"

"I don't know."

"What do you mean, you don't know? Did you see it?"

"No. Maybe I will ask her mother tomorrow what the mother delivered."


Of course, I wanted to scream, "It's YOUR child, and your WIFE," but I try to be a good missionary sometimes and realize that this is another culture...not mine. I am a guest here...a foreigner.

So I calmly said, "Let me know when you find out so we can buy a gift."

Of course, Doug had a better idea when we talked later. Instead of buying a gender-specific gift, we should take them beans, cassava flour, sugar, etc. Sounds good to me.

You go find out what kind of child your wife had, and I'll go to the market and get some food.

No, I did not say that. Give me some credit.

I praised God for a healthy child, and I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving with him. Much better, huh?

I'll let you know what they name him/her. Of course, that won't happen until after the umbilical cord falls off.

Oh, I have a lot to learn about our cultures differences!


Nancy said...

I so enjoyed your story!

jessica broom said...

oh my word.

Evan said...

Wow! Nice to hear about Patrick. Please greet him for me!


Brandy said...

That IS awesome!!!