Sunday, November 27, 2011

Over the river and through the woods. . .

We knew we were stepping into a big Thanksgiving adventure when we decided to squeeze Josiah and Annette onto a bus for an over-land Mozambique trip. As the bus pulled away from Pemba I felt a sense of excitement rise up in my chest. It was with gratitude that we rode into the African sunrise, cool breeze in our face, contented children in their seats and cute mud huts whizzing by.

But the refreshing breeze gradually gave way to stifling heat and our contented children began fidgeting and digging their elbows into each other. When we came to a village the driver would slow the bus to allow venders to brings mangos, cashews, and cokes up to our windows. This was nice, the first few times, but soon we began stopping at practically every village. The venders began offering an expanded selection that included large straw mats, brooms and slaughtered chickens. When the bus would stop more passengers would board and huge mats and chickens came in through the windows.

We had purchased three tickets, but as people piled on the bus it became quite obvious that there was no correlation between the number of seats on the bus and tickets sold. We realized it would be rude for Josiah to have his own seat, so he climbed on our lap. That is when the injustice began to rise up in me. We PAID for that tickets, we DESERVE that seat. Immediately something that Hedi Baker said in class came to mind, "you can choose to get angry or choose to go lower." At the time she said it I genuinely couldn't make an application, but now in this increasingly hot, crammed, smelly bus I had a chance to go lower still. I smiled, hugged Josiah tight and thanked Jesus for humbling himself.

The kids drifted into sweaty sleep, but awoke when the bus (and breeze) stopped. As we were pulling away from yet another stop Josiah proclaimed urgently, "I need to poopy". Dread. I quickly put a diaper on Josiah "just in case" he couldn't hold it. He couldn't. And at that moment we discovered that Josiah had caught the tummy bug going around our house. Diarrhea. Loads of it. Still staying calm I lay hm across the seat and change the diaper. That was like unleashing a bomb on the bus. Half the bus stood up and women began to give me looks of disgust. Just as we dealt with that diaper, it happened again, this time not in a diaper. Now the whole bus stood up and began yelling and discussing the situation while I used every wet wipe trying to clean up my son. Poop is smeared everywhere. Then the bus driver pulls over and man yells angrily, 'get your children off the bus".

Every eyes was on me and each face expressed their disgust. I wanted to cry and scream at the same time. I was afraid they were going to kick us off the bus and drive away. Jesus help!! I remembered another story Heidi told of a group of Mozambicans that were angry with her. She told how she fell on her knees and apologized over and over. I didn't fell like I owed them an apology. These things happen with kids. But God said "lower still".

Smattered in poop I walked down the isle shouting "desculpa, desculpa, desculpa" (sorry, sorry, sorry) as sincerely and loudly as I could. I looked eah person in the eye and as I did I saw their faces soften. When reaking Josiah and I finally made it off the bus (we were seated in the last row) and English speaking passenger on behalf of the bus said, "we forgive you". That really hit me. A woman dragged us to a river where she insisted Josiah and I stripped down and washed (lower still) and we changed into clean clothes. Alleluia!

We still had two hours left to go and it was still hard with new challenges (we were stopped by a police officer to check our documents.It was with supreme joy that we crawled off the bus eight hours later. We made it to Nampula with God's help. We smelled, were cranky, sweaty, hungry and tired- but we'd been given mercy. God is showing us that in loving people there is only one direction, lower still.


  1. Amazing, Christine! I must admit that I laughed and cried when I read this. I was then sorry that I had laughed. It was just one of those relatable moments in mommyhood when something gross like this happens in the most unfortunate place. But I realized how they reacted to you and how that made you feel and then how you felt GOD and was so happy and inspired by you. I really felt like I was right there next to you. I wish I was. God is very very easy to see in you.

  2. Well said, Shalimar...

    What I love is that the crazy stories of motherhood binds us together, even when we are worlds apart.

  3. My dear Christine. You have an amazing amount of strength and faith that will allow you to get through all of these challenges. God is so good and shines through your eyes. I have a similar "poop" story that happened to me when I had to bring Nicholas to court with me because I had nobody to babysit him. He was about 6 months old and although I didn't not know to ask for help from God, He showed up anyways by sending a team of his angels to assist me, one whom had a garden hose! Instead of being in a cramped bus in Africa, I was in a courtroom in Van Nuys Cali and the judge informed me the plumbing was not working in the entire courthouse that day and to please leave and he would send me his decision in the mail. Nobody saw God in my eyes that day, in fact I didn't look at anyone because I was so ashamed. I won that case, but only because God sent a team of angels to assist me. The difference is that you looked at and apologized to everyone and they saw God in your eyes and discovered compassion. I love you Christine and I LOVE your strength and faith in our dear Lord Jesus and I will be sending a very special praise up to him for not allowing those people to kick you guys off that bus and leaving you stranded. We all have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for knowing you. Love to you all.

  4. Oh Christine, I'm so sorry. This sounds like an awful experience, but you never cease to amaze me with your humility, perseverance and strength. You are a true inspiration, and I want you to know that you are often in my thoughts and prayers-- even though I haven't been good about staying in touch. :( Love you!!!