Saturday, September 18, 2004

Christmas in September

It feels like the aftermath of Christmas morning around the house today. Our shipment from America arrived finally on Friday … after a slightly stressful visit to the airport to get it released.

But now the house is full of empty boxes, packing paper, and stuffed animals strewn about. We don’t want to unpack everything, because we are moving into the upstairs apartment after the Warnocks leave, so we’re having to take a careful, measured approach to the unpacking process.

It has been a joy to see familiar objects again, however. It will make this place feel a little more comfortable.

However, today reminds me of something that Bill Warnock keeps saying about the Cameroon culture. He says that we Americans have a culture of “things” – we put a high value on our appliances, electronics, material objects. These things make us feel comfortable; we have an attachment to them. But Cameroonians – and many other African peoples – do not place such great importance on possessions. Instead, they have a culture of “relationships,” meaning they have a network of friends and family that are of primary importance.

Indeed, it feels a little odd to be receiving these boxes of things in a culture that is possession-poor, but relationally-rich. As a family, we have survived for over a month without these boxes, and we are confident that we could do fine without them for a longer period. In fact, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves in the absence of all these things. As a family unit, we have had to work extra hard on doing things together, especially on the nights when the electricity is out! In the absence of a TV, we play games together practically every night. In the absence of video games, Leah and I read to the kids, and the kids read to us. In the absence of DSL, we found a jigsaw puzzle to work together.

Being here has put us in touch with the essence of the gospel, and especially with the words of Jesus, who said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Frankly, Leah and I are tired of running after all those things, and our lifestyle change has helped us to get out of the race. Praise God!

But in the meantime, it is kinda nice to have some familiar things around ...