I’m doing a lot of thinking about eyes lately. The most graphic reminder is our precious daughter, Sarah. Look at her poor eye!
This pitiful looking burn is brought to you by a bug, ironically named “Nairobi Eye.” If you crush them or even, as Sarah did, flick them off you, they release an acid that burns the skin. We have had a major infestation on campus, as well as a few around our house. I washed one down the shower drain the other morning, as I did not want to bathe with it. Sarah was playing outside with her friends, climbing on playground equipment, and one of these beetles dropped on her face.
Although I feel a wave of sympathy every time I look at her, I keep reminding myself to be so thankful that she did not get the acid inside her eye.
I am leading the ninth grade through The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who have not read it (you should!), but in the first few chapters the narrator wonders if he might lose his eye. I was telling my classes that my mom lost her right eye and functioned very well for twenty years more! It is a brilliant metaphor in the book for the character’s awakening, for his experience of seeing things with new eyes, reconsidering all his assumptions. It makes me wonder what I need to re-see, what I assume is truth that needs to be upended. Living in another country will do that to you– challenge your assumptions, so that you can see better.
Thank you Stan Kwan for the photo. I am taking advantage of standing uphill in this photo to maintain height advantage.
I had been at the hospital most of the day when Sarah came running in the house saying “There are millions of termites in the soccer field. You need to come see!” I went out not really expecting much when to my surprise I saw what looked like wiggly smoke coming out of a 10 foot by 10 foot section of the field. As I walked closer lots of termites were crawling out of newly formed termite holes, and then taking off into the cloudy sky. I have never seen anything like it, and the video above does not do the experience justice. It was incredible. These are the same termites that many of the people eat after frying in a skillet, and if you are truly African you eat them raw from the air as Annie’s friend did last week. We always have to be careful with the cracks in our doors in windows because masses of termites try and crawl in toward the light in these first rainy days of the rainy season. As the smoke of termites finally cleared and dissipated, the girls proceeded to run around the field and slide in the mud. The messier the better!
I’m taking a break from watching the monkeys play on the trees outside our kitchen window to write a bit about our crazy kids. This week we watched Coco as a family. The Spanish, the Spanglish, the painted concrete walls and big metal gates, the music, the way even the grandmother was drawn, with her apron and her tough square body type, made us all feel nostalgic for Peru, nostalgic for speaking Spanish and for our friends and our life in South America. Sarah reported the next morning that she had lain in bed “feeling very sad about missing Peru” afterward. Annie said watching the movie “made her feel like home.” We bought the soundtrack and sang along loudly in Spanish. A part of our hearts are with Latinos, and it made me remember again how important that has been and will be in our kids’ development.
Speaking of part of kids’ development, I’m teaching A Tale of Two Cities now, and as we discuss corrupt governments, wealthy people who don’t care, poverty, oppression, and worrying about providing food for your malnourished children, I see that most of my students understand. They have seen it firsthand. My students are, for the most part, grateful on a level that first world students will not experience. In a similar vein, Sarah had her birthday party last weekend and we played games with water, had chocolate cake and popcorn, and played some music for musical chairs. Her presents included a candy bar and a used stuffed animal. Every party participant expressed many thanks and enthusiasm for the simplest pleasures.
Annie’s birthday party, delayed a week because of Dad’s call schedule, was Friday night. Her friends came over to have pizza and outside games, but the rainy season may have arrived on March 1st, and it was raining like crazy. Annie and I went to the school gate to pick up her friends. On the way down, we saw many fluttering insects—I have heard them called flying termites—think dull brown, overgrown dragonflies. One girl squealed, “Ooh! The termites are here!” and squatted down to pick one up. Soon all six were holding a wriggling bug by the wings, watching it squirm. I smiled to myself, thinking “Only a group of missionary girls would react this way.” Then, one of the girls ate one. O.K. There you go. Wow. We got home and turned on some music while I finished preparing the pizza toppings. Every girl was dancing and singing unashamedly to Toby Mac. The third culture kid experience combined with a Christian family culture makes for a pretty awesome group of kids. We love getting to spend time with this unique group.