Saturday, August 4, 2012

Strangers and Pilgrims

 Four Student Missionaries Practicing the Art of Bowl Balancing

A/N: The following poem was inspired from observations made during my yearly vacation in the U.S. from my work in Cameroon. It struck me how my husband and I can cross two cultures without even thinking. Because of our time overseas, we will never have the same perspectives and insights. We have joined the relatively fortunate few who can say they’ve lived internationally. The following verse in Hebrews reminded me that our real citizenship is in heaven.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded by them and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”                                                                                                                          Hebrews 11:13


It’s short for Interdivisional Employee
The title denotes work as a missionary
Commissioned to travel across the land and the sea
An ambassador of love in a new country

It’s a calling of excitement and adventure
With a small dash of difficulty to be sure
However extended you choose to venture
You will never emerge the same ol’ trencher

You used to belong within society
Cocooned within a wall of familiarity
Now life’s ejected you from its propriety
And you roam around with some anxiety

Your passport cover that’s within your berth
Has a color telling your place of birth
It’s a name that no longer gives much worth
To that peculiar patch of nascent earth

Typhoid malaria and midgets bold
Are just as normal as the common cold
Cockroaches and mosquitoes fourfold
Are no more foreign than the flies of old

Black white brown red or other hue untold
Dark wiry hair or tresses straight and gold
Blue eyes that calm or brown eyes that are bold
All are unique and lovely to behold

Adjustable hot water bathroom showers
Cultivated garden with neat rows of flowers
These novelties are pleasant and pass the hours
But none surpass a ‘net speed that empowers

Quiet skies with no flying jet from Boeing
In contrast noisy markets and roosters crowing
Your ears can recognize the sounds out flowing
You sleep even with taxi horns a blowing

You jam forward in funneling queue with a wink
Or stand in neatly cordoned lines without a kink
You can place your demand for fish chips and a drink
Or order ice cream from a menu on the brink

It’s nice to swallow water straight from the tap
But Berkey filters easily fill the gap
Water is quite wet anywhere on the map
Filtered or bottled you just untwist the cap

Traditional Braids and Dress

White man, nasara, mzungu, and names akin
Whatever others call you with a cheerful grin
All remind that whatever color of your skin
You’ll never be a native or blend and fit in

Always an enigma in the current population
Not once an ordinary citizen of the nation
Never a common local of current habitation
You float between different worlds like an aberration

Your culture is distinct and its own creation
Based on your experience with some frustration
Life’s not confined to one style or summation
A variety but God’s your one foundation

Even if you wanted to return to days of old
You would never fit within that former rigid mould
Branded alien foreign wild and uncontrolled
A single country can never keep you in its hold

Whether for the better or for the worse
You must now trek long and forever traverse
A broadened view of third cultural verse
Where strange and different is not a curse

You may settle or you may pick up and go
You may return and live in former chateau
Or make another place your lasting furlough
Or even stay within your current escrow

No longer a self-centered and brash young fox
You realize that now you think outside the box
On the fringe of social order wearing socks
New perspective on things that used to flummox

You’ve become a wandering pilgrim in waiting
A promised rest for body and soul awaiting
One day when Jesus appears heaven translating
Your spirit will be complete full never hating

Within heaven you are perfectly understood
Communication’s great and quarrels are withstood
All are together in unity and are good
Your lonely wandering heart is home as it should

At last you’re a pilgrim and a stranger no more
Upon the weary travelings you’ve closed the door
Your soul is content upon heaven’s dazzling shore
The label I.D.E. is gone forevermore

Closing Tradition at Church with Hand Holding - Can you find the white man?

“Now therefore, you are strangers and foreigners no more, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”                                                                                                            Ephesians 2:19