Pull up a chair, wipe the sweat off your forearms so you don’t stick to the furniture, and listen to me whine for a while. Vent. Whatever.
We’ve recently transferred from one job to another. To be honest, I welcomed it. We’ve long believed that God had something else for us, a new way to use us and the skills we’ve added over the years. We remained committed to the last role, but possessed a deep conviction that He had something different planned for our future. The new job, while still in international missions, does not in the smallest way resemble my last one, and I’m fine with that.
With a new job came a new house in a new city, located on a new continent many times zones away from my old one. I’m….not as fine with that.
It’s hot; oh, by the wing feathers of the angels in heaven, it’s hot. The wife keeps store-bought cookies in the fridge to keep them from melting. The bread resides there, too, but that’s to avoid even a hint of mold that would send my allergic self into anaphylactic shock. My wife’s first batch of homemade cookies came out well, and then stuck together in the cookie jar to form one, large goat-choking mass. Sleeping requires no touching of any kind; no foot-hooked-over-an-ankle, no arm flopping over a shoulder, nothing. Last night the temperatures were so high we did not even allow ourselves eye contact lest the sweating worsen. We have fans running 24/7, and we leave the lights off so the bulbs won’t heat the house.
It’s stickier than a two-year old with a popsicle. Our eldest prefers to sit on a stool in the evenings to sticking to the furniture. Air-kisses became mandatory after we had to pry Piper away from Mommy’s cheek after a leaving-for-school kiss with glued them together. If we had lived here all this time, we likely would have fewer children, if you know what I mean.
The house is smaller than any we’ve occupied. The oven lives on the back porch. Our borrowed furniture stinks. Jack’s mattress springs poke through the material and our “end table” is a broken filing cabinet. Beef is so expensive we have ground pork hamburgers. Our traditional evening card games ceased when we realized the omnipresent floor fans were blowing the cards away. Besides, we kept sticking to the table.
But do you want to know what really grinds my gears? What takes the fizz out of my Dr. Pepper? What sours my milk and melts my ice cream?
It’s not the little dog across the street who stole the anti-ant poison box off the back porch. It’s not the ants that invade our house, making the anti-ant poison box necessary in the first place. It’s not the lousy bicycles we had to buy for the kids to ride to and from school, bikes so flimsy I work constantly to keep at least 2 of the four operating. It isn’t the language that uses things that don’t look like letters, nor the absence of plugs in the kitchen; not the stray dogs that chase me on my runs or driving on the left side of the road. You want to know has driven me castrating-the-unicorns-on-the-carousel insane?
The ground under my carport is wet.
I spend a lot of time running through the neighborhood, and I see the other houses. We’re the only ones whose carport fails to keep the ground dry underneath. In fact, there’s a permanent algae/mildew spot on the textured concrete not a meter from the steps into the house. Wife is focused on (I would say “obsessed with”) convincing (“forcing”) me to take allergy meds daily to avoid being sickened. The kids track water into the house. The cheap bicycles sit in the pond located where most people set up their clothes-drying rack.
Somewhere deep inside my brain next to where I remember the words to “99 Red Balloons” and what I got for my 6th birthday, I suspect I’m being irrational. Allowing a water puddle to send me into a mental condition consistent with peeling an empty banana is about as wise as dieting with Charles Barkley. The rainy season rests heavily on the city, and errant moisture under the carport results from the daily torrents; in other words, duh, there’s going to be water. I know that asking Wife -repeatedly – what we did to deserve a wet sidewalk likely pushes her over the edge to join me in my madness; what can I say – I’m a people person. I’m aware that counting how many days remain on our two-year rental contract is likely unhealthy.
I. don’t. like. this.
I can’t help it. Our traditional games have changed and with it our family fun. Our sleeping patterns are different. We sit far away from each other on the couch. I overcome restless nights to muster up the desire to accompany the kids out into the heat and odd traffic patterns and confusing signage. Nightly Bible study times are usually exercises in paying attention without making contact with yourself.
Don’t get me wrong: I know I have a good life compared to billions of people. I know I followed God’s calling. This is my fifth international posting, so I understand what culture shock and transitional periods do to people. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, got the tattoo, set up a Pinterest board for it.
So I work. And exercise. I sit in the living room and sweat while reading Francis Schaeffer and stories of J. Hudson Taylor. In the midst of the rainy season, we iron the clothes until they are almost dry to avoid having them turn musty. In the really hot season over in the American spring, we’ll visualize cooler climates around the world; places like Arizona and Calcutta. The dog across the street is still afraid of me, but I’ll make friends with him eventually. I’ll master bicycle repair somewhere along the way, and learn to be content here in my new home. This is where He has placed me, and to remain discontent is to reject His wisdom in putting me here.
It’s raining. Gotta go buy a squeegee for the water.