The first day we arrived at Moma's and Dad's home, I noticed a barrier between us and them. We were clearly the guests of honor, but there was something lonely about that. They held us in such high regard as if we were royalty not meant to see a day of hard labor. But, of course, Seb and I have humble backgrounds. We don't hold ourselves in that regard at all. The last thing I wanted was for these people to. My heart's desire was for these people to see that we were just like them. And in that, I wanted us to develop a fellowship, an opportunity to truly know each other's hearts. I knew that if the barrier was still up by the time we left, I would have failed in my own personal mission.
One thing I've learned from travel is that you can have everything planned perfectly, but at any moment the entire thing can fall apart. The best you can do is be prepared for anything to happen. And that's the reason Seb and I found ourselves in the living room on a Wednesday morning when Auntie Rachael walked in crying.
For the privacy of my friend, I won't go into details. But it was in this moment when I understood why our plans had fallen apart. We were here for these people. To become their friends, to let them vent and to be a comfort. At the end of the day, it didn't matter what we said or where we said it. The most important thing was that we were there.
When we had started out the mission trip, our host family would pass us in the hallways, smile and focus on setting the table and preparing food for us. They would sit on stools and eat with their hands outside while we sat on the couches in the living room with all our fancy utensils. But overtime, Sebastian and I broke our way into the kitchen and learned how to make chapattis. Then we would eat with the children outside. Slowly but surely the barrier began to fade.
One night we sat in the living room with Pastor Fred. The electricity was out again. All we had for light was our gas lantern. It was there that Pastor Fred said how he couldn't believe that we chose to live with the natives instead of in a hotel. (This option had been offered to us earlier and we had declined). He explained how they were nervous because it was dangerous for us to stay with the natives. But even more, he was shocked that we would chose to give up our personal comforts to live with them. Yet he said that was the number one thing he would tell his friends and family about.
When you live with people, you can cry with them, pray for them and laugh with them. I can guarantee that is something they will never forget. And that's why it was such a precious moment for Auntie Rachael to finally pour her heart out to us.
She had walked in to serve us eggs and tomatoes (my favorite) like any morning. However, by this point, we had talked together, worked in the kitchen together, and had many jokes together. So, when she came in, she began to talk to us. Her heart was heavy and we could hear the hurt and pain in her voice. She shared her burdens with us and began to cry. When I stood up and hugged her as she cried, I knew a bond had been formed between us that would last a lifetime.