Beautiful Things

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thoughts on comfort and having multiple names...

Holly, Kati, and I spent our first weekend in an Ivorian home. The home of the Yeo Yeneyela family. Yeneyela and Awa spent the week before on campus at ICA with us, so I was able to get to know them and their baby boy, Solomon. To be completely truthful, I was NERVOUS! I had no idea what it would be like and there were so many questions. We had visited many courtyard before, but would their home be like that? What would their bathroom be like? What about drinking water? What about FOOD? Lots and lots of questions. So Friday afternoon, Rod drove us out to Brobo, dropped us at the Yeo house, and then he was gone.

We survived! We more than survived! Life was so relaxing and they made us so comfortable in their home. The 3 of us shared a room at the end of a short hall, which had a queen sized mattress on the ground and a mosquito net hanging above it. A mosquito net! I've been here for almost 2 months and that was my first mosquito net.

When we arrived, Awa greeted us with a big smile and open arms. Yeneyela took us for une promenade through town. We stopped and greeted at so many houses along the way, and my french slowly deteriorated the more houses we visited. Brobo is spread out and village-like compared to Bouake. Yeneyela and Marius (a close family friend and former student) showed us that almost every house was in some stage of preparing atteche- which is a staple food in Cote d'Ivoire made from manioc. When we returned (2 1/2 hours  later!) Awa had a snack ready for us: aloco (fried plantains) and an omelet! Then I occupied Solomon for awhile, cut onions and tomatoes, made passion fruit juice, and experienced bathing from a bucket!
Bathrooms here are not about comfort, which- I think- is a high priority in the States. At home, you relax in the bathroom- here it's all utilitarian, it's strickly necessity. The bathroom was inside, which I was thankful for. Many courtyards we've seen, there are rooms outside with a hole in the ground. There was even a toilet- it didn't flush, but it was a toilet!

Dinner: AGOUTI! We ate rat- a giant rat with onions and tomatoes and noodles! I tried to get away with taking a small piece of the meat, but Awa just put another larger peice on my plate! It wasn't too bad in all actuality... just had a funny after taste. After dinner, we all sat and watched a John Wayne film dubbed over in French- it was wonderful!

The next day was filled with more visiting- including a lengthy stop at the village Chief's courtyard. The chief was a woman! I was shocked- totally counter cultural! She had a very "official" demeanor toward us. She gave us all Baoule names- Kati, Holly and I were all given the name Affoue, which means "saturday". Yep, we were named after the day of the week. I am quickly becoming a woman of many names. In Baoule: Affoue; in Dyula: Sarata; and to the French speakers, I'm still Naomi (but pronounced now-me). Culturally speaking, I feel so honored to be given a traditional name- they are sharing a familiarity with me. Sometimes, though, I look forward to phone calls from my parents and my name not sounding weird.

The Chief and the 3 Affoue's
Kati pounding palm nuts
Over the next few days, we fell into life with them. It was simplistic and wonderful! We ate more food that we were unsure about by the looks of it, but it was all pretty tasty. Yeneyela was given a copy of our CD, "Take These Feet" and would blast it from the household stereo. It was a strange feeling- hearing our music projected in an African courtyard! We spent time with the local church youth at a prayer meeting and I was so encouraged by their hunger for God and knowledge of Him. Yeneyela took us on his moto into the bush to see his garden. It was an adventure to say the least. We got lost and scraped up by low hanging branches, but it was so much fun! On Sunday, we went with the Yeos to their little church- which was actually an unfinished cement block building. It had a tin roof attached with wiring and 5 wooden benches. It made me think about how excessive our church buildings can be at home. There is so much debate on what color the carpet should be and other trivial things, when this group of 15 believers are worshiping and dancing barefoot on a dirt floor. Their offering of worship was genuine and simple, but fervent and powerful. Rod spoke in french at the little chuch on John 9 and what it means to be blind. I found it to be an incredibly fitting message for me to hear in this little place and I was thankful that God gave understanding despite the language barriers.

Rod took us home after the service, back to our walled in village, back to pancake and scrambles eggs for Sunday lunch, back to our little America. It's difficult finding a balance. I loved living with the Yeos for a weekend, I loved experiencing life with them. BUT I was tired! We all were. It was nice to be back in our own rooms and free to speak english with eachother. It was nice to be comfortable. However, I'm learning that God needs to be my comfort zone, not speaking english, or my own bed sheets, or baked potatoes for dinner, or pictures from home. All those things are able to be lost, but God is not. He is the steady, constant, perfect thing.

There are mare thoughts that follow this, but should be saved for another day, since I've apparently started writing a novel. So this is to be continued...


Bjorklund's said...

your blog blesses me every time I read it!!! I pray that God will continue to meet with you in those strange places.

Russ said...

Ruth and I really enjoyed reading your blog entry about the weekend in Brobo. It brings back so many memories of visits to villages with friends working among the people. I remember those warm water bucket baths the host would provide. At the end of a hot busy day it was such a great feeling.

Robert said...

Told you you’d be yielding a machete.