This summer we were gone from home in Timu for over two months. For much of that time, we felt ambivalent about going back. I mean, life is difficult here in many ways, so when we're not here, sometimes we're not sure about coming back. Thankfully, just before it was time to return, we quickly grew dissatisfied with our lives in the cities (Kampala, Nairobi)...the traffic, the noise, the busy pace of life.
A few weeks ago when we finally got back to our lonely mountain villa, we felt a huge sense of contentment, peace, and rightness for being here. That could only have been a grace of God, reaffirming to us that this is where we are supposed to be for this season of life...as hard as it can be.
Another grace God has lavished on us is the simple enjoyment of eating things made available to us on a day-to-day basis. One day Janet and Lemu's aunt gave us fresh collard greens, and we made Thai peanut-butter-and-greens noodles. The next day, Janet and Lemu's uncle brought us a gift of fresh milk taken from Dodoth cows grazing these days in Ikland; with that we made an awesome chowder for lunch. Yesterday, our friend and employee Lotengan Emmanuel brought us the thigh of a freshly trapped reedbuck. So we marinated that and had a scrumptious lunch of meaty stew over rice. All week people have been bringing us pumpkins---the standard Ik hospitality gift. Some of the pumpkins were sold to us, others given in exchange for something, and others given 'freely' (with hidden or not-so-hidden strings attached). With the surplus of freshly harvested pumpkins, today Amber made an awesome, hearty lentil-and-pumpkin stew for lunch, and we topped off the day with pumpkin pancakes dusted with powdered sugar and slathered with maple syrup. Let me not forget the local eggs and wonderful bananas we've been downing!
For us, life in Timu is mostly mundane, ever-so-daily, often with little to look forward to (and occasionally punctuated with crises major and minor). In this context, God is teaching us--rather relentlessly, I might add--how to be content in our circumstances. Only He knows all that He is doing. We have to learn--and hopefully have to some degree--to trust in the underlying movements of the Spirit of Life, even when the hour-by-hour circumstances of our outer life seem rather dull and oppressive.
After two months away, I can see that we have changed. Part of that change is a new appreciation and even affection for our 'Ik-sistence'. My suspicion is that just about the time we become fully content with living here, God will move us on...because then, and only then, will our exile in the wilderness have done its soul-shaping work.