To me, moving overseas was a brand new experience. Landing early that morning, everything was different. The weather was very cold, the buildings were different, and so too were the colorful autumn trees. But what captured my mind most was how quiet the city was.
As we drove from the airport to my apartment, I wondered, ‘why is it so quiet’? I remembered it was a Sunday and that people were at church or home resting. Wrong! After a week, I realized that is the way people live here. When introduced to one of my new colleagues, he said, “Welcome, to the cold region, where everything is cold, including people”. Each day I live to testify his statement. I feel the people are colder than the weather itself.
I am pretty sure that people who leave here would not need a week to realize how busy my town is. People are all over the town, selling and buying, doing all sorts of business, children playing and screaming all around after school, and don’t forget the maize mill that used to wake me up almost every morning as early as 6am. As active it is, so is the interaction with people. People are willing to talk, even to strangers, save a language barrier.
Still, in this long and shocking transition I had to start life from scratch, building up, day after day, and finding comfort rather in the positive side of the quiet place. I have questioned why I never really noticed the beauty of my hometown as we drove with my brother many early mornings. It is all because of so many distractions we meet along the way, a minibus trying to cut us off or making an emergency stop, vendors marketing their product by singing or dancing. All of these capture our attention and discussion throughout the ride.
However, the adventurous morning ride is different here, as the streets are so quiet that the only noise I hear is the moving trains. Quietly as I go to work, I cannot help but admire the day– beautiful sun or snow, the children quietly going to school. Nature has become my daily inspiration in my lonely walks.
Spiritually my life has grown in this area, as I meditate on my morning bible reading and quietly sing beautiful hymns to my soul. My spiritual life has indeed experienced Gods presence each day.
This quietness follows me to the church service that I attend. I have to admit I miss the dancing and the singing at my church, but I have also learned to like the new praying culture of singing soft spiritual songs and prayers of solidarity with other church members and the rest of the world.
In the midst of the quietness, I also find some things similar to my hometown–people who are homeless, hungry, and neglected. Whilst volunteering at a soup kitchen I have come to learn what these people need is love and respect as a human.
Indeed, human dignity is priceless. In my work at the World Council of Churches, our program of health and healing is part of The Human Dignity of Diakonia project. Having being involved in many meetings and listening to different stories, I have come to see how important it is to value every human and creation. Most people, who feel they have lost their dignity, are vulnerable to so many abuses and hurts of this world.
I am learning new ways to deal with life in a new culture. I am taking the positive moments that have truly change my life, and am looking forward to learning more interesting things during the rest of my mission.
World Council of Churches, Switzerland
Global Mission Fellow, Class of 2014
Advance # 3022004