July 15, 2008


I know I write a lot of content for this blog. I do so because I enjoy it, there’s plenty of material to keep me going, and I see it as an integral part of my job.

But I hope I have never given the impression that this blog is a complete or near-complete account of a missionary’s experience. It is definitively not. There is so much that happens here and that I think about that never gets recorded here because I don’t have the energy to write everything down, because the thoughts are too unformed to see the light of day, or because I don’t want to overwhelm you with content. (I don’t try to censor myself, however, or not write about things that are difficult for me. I want that part to be as unvarnished as possible.)

Inspired by (i.e. stealing from) my fellow missionary Kate, here are some topics I’ll probably never get to writing about.

  • The picnic I took some people from Itipini on where they got to see zebras and wildebeest for the first time in their life, even though they are five minutes outside of town.
  • The interactions I have with the nurses at the government clinic that sort of oversees us and how in my time here they’ve gone from hostile towards me to treating me like their long-lost son.
  • The bottle store (liquor store) where I begin every day, picking up a few of our staff and particularly the women who run the bottle store and the clientele with whom I interact, in Xhosa, of course.
  • The nine-year old deaf and mute girl in Itipini who is just crying out for attention and for whom it seems impossible to make any meaningful improvements in her life, so great are the obstacles and barriers to her care.
  • How close everyone stands to you in lines at the grocery store so you don’t have any personal space. And how I think everyone is always trying to cut me in line.
  • The frustration I sometimes I develop at my co-workers for their work ethic and seeming willingness to take frequent and lengthy breaks.
  • How my driving habits and skills and general approach to automobile safety, which I’ve always prided myself on, have sunk to record lows here, in keeping with the general cavalier approach to driving in this country. On the other hand, I’m a great stick-shift driver now… when shifting with my left hand.
  • How, occasionally, my standards of personal hygiene drop a little below what I’m used to because, I reason, there’s no way I’m ever going to smell worse than some of the patients we see so what’s a little slippage in the frequency of my showers?
  • The confusion I feel on the subject of teen pregnancy because I can see both how much it harms the futures of the mothers in terms of education and work but also how much joy and spark the children so conceived bring into so many lives, including my own.
Of course, now that I’ve made this list it might spark longer posts about these topics… but not yet.