Day 9: “But I will sing of your strength and joyfully proclaim your faithful love in the morning.” Ps. 59:16
Valentines Day. The day of love. Today community seemed to be flourishing wherever I looked. It began with a delicious Greek breakfast of dates, sausage, homemade bread and cake, cheese, and rich Kenyan coffee at a neighbor’s home. The food was not only delicious, but the company, too. The rest of the day passed with good tempered people at Church, friends giving a group of us teachers a lift to the grocery store in town, an invitation to the beach with other friends in the late afternoon, then a rotic dinner (a romantic dinner without the “man”) cooked by my housemate, Marie. Even at my local gas station the attendants were giving out roses to people who filled up their gas tanks.
Yet, shouldn’t this type of day be the rule, not the exception? We should be loving each other through sharing our lives with each other every day. So many days are spent in isolation, where we work side-by-side in our separate spheres. Very little of our social contact is meaningful; taking Valentine’s Day to remind us of each others’ existence.
“If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened, however, God has listened.” Ps. 66:18
Today I felt like a community breaker. As this is the antithesis of my goal to build community wherever I am, it was disheartening until I read the above Bible verse.
This is one thing that happened: A gang of teen boys harassed me when I was walking through the market after work. Even though they were verbally yelling at me, calling me a mzungo [foreigner], grabbing my arm and yanking my backpack, no one stopped to help me. I didn’t get so much as a sympathy glance. I did not feel a part of a supportive community.
Second incident: I walked a student down to the Principal’s office for disrespectful behavior towards me and at first felt hard and unforgiving. I felt like I was tearing down the walls of love between this 15 year-old girl and I until I realized I was disciplining her out of love. My prayer is that God will listen and soften her heart, changing her behavior. If my heart is filled with concern rather than malice, God will listen.
Day 11: My prayer was answered! Today my student came to me a sincere verbal apology and this note in part saying, “I am so sorry that you felt disrespected by me.” Having resolved the issue we parted on a friendly note.