Sunday, February 24, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013


Today there was a knock on my gate. 5 little girls were there. Lameen's sisters.  They wanted to know if they could come in to play.

HE didn't have to do that for me. But HE did... and I am so grateful.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Real Deal

Sometimes I feel like a fraud.

I checked on Lameen's mother last night.  Everything was back to normal. No friends, no one, in fact. She woke to her dead son Saturday morning, buried him by afternoon and life was back to normal by the next morning.  A normal life...with no son.
It was evening and there was no electricity so we sat in her living room in the dark, unable to see each others faces and just talked.  She told me that Lameen would often point to my house and ask his mother if he could visit us.  "No," she would tell him, "You haven't been invited."
That hurt.  He should have known he was welcome here.  Why didn't I ever tell him he could stop by anytime? Why hadn't I met his mother before the day I held her hands and cried for her loss? Her gate is just across from mine.  I failed her.  GOD planted that boy right in front of me and I was probably inside watching TV.

I met someone else this week: a thin Englishwoman who is probably in her seventies. I liked her instantly.  She was in from the village and had come over to have coffee with the missionary women.  She was excited about being in a group of women to worship and pray.  She lives many hours into the interior of Guinea.   And do you know what she does out in that remote place?
Prison Ministry.
That frail jewel of a woman spends her days teaching imprisoned men how to read.  Prisons in Guinea are horrible.  Aside from the desperate conditions, the lack of justice and organization means that once you're in,  it can be years before you get out. Not because their crime is worthy of it, but because no one is keeping tabs on when they should get out.  It is pitiful.
My English friend doesn't live alone out in that remote location.  She has a roommate, a woman in her 80's affectionately known by the missionary community as "Queen Anne".  She grew up with the real Queen of England, Elizabeth,  and when she was in her late 60's worked on board the Africa Mercy Ship, known at that time as "The Anastasia".    When the ship docked in Guinea, she got off and stayed.  That was 17 years ago. She goes on every camping trip and every hike the missionaries hold.  She sleeps on the ground and hikes the trails but no matter where she is, at tea time she always stops and sits down for tea. What is a woman like this doing in Guinea? One thing.  Just one thing.  Praying.
Those lively girls of great age...they know who they are and they know who they're not.  They aren't put off by the irony of age and camping, wilderness hikes and tea time, frailness and prisons.
I want to be like that. I want to know who I am and who I am not. I want to know it as a 30-something. Now, on this street with these neighbors.
I want to be real, the deep down to the depths of me, real deal.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


We call them "The Street Boys".  They are the boys that live in our neighborhood and hang out in the dirt road outside our gate playing football. We feed them treats and have let them in the gate to play.  We see them every time we go on our walks. Sometimes they follow us wherever we are going.  They're sweet and a little know, typical boys.
Except for one of them. His name is Lameen...
I see the other boys running the streets, but he is usually working.  Some of the boys get too aggressive with my girls. Not him.  Not ever.
When the kids and I went on a walk last week we passed him outside carrying water with his sister and stopped to say hi.  Before we walked on, I saw him.  Well, of course I saw him, but I mean that at that moment, I really saw him.  I saw a sweetness and a grace in his face that captured my attention. I said goodbye and walked on.

This morning I sat in his house with his mother. Wildheart sat beside me. We were surrounded by other African women. We were there to mourn with her.
Yesterday, Lameen had a headache.  He went to bed last night and this morning when his mother went to wake him,  he was dead.  He was only 14.
Sitting in his house with the people who loved him, the grief was palpable.  Although Africans are loud and expressive, when it comes to death, they are surprisingly controlled. In fact, when one person would begin to wail, the others would tell them to have courage. We listened when his mother spoke but mostly we just sat together.  In Guinea, when someone dies everyone floods to the house: neighbors, friends, relatives.  They come to cry and to sit together.  At times like that, what else is there anyway?

I'm not really sure why I chose to blog about this one. I didn't really learn anything worth sharing.  Losing a child is the same in every culture. It's always horrible. It's always sad. It's never fair.
I guess I just didn't want this smart, beautiful boy to go away without other people knowing that he lived...without knowing that somewhere on a dusty little street in Guinea lived a boy who was gentle with his sister, worked hard with his family and was kind to his neighbors.
Farewell Lameen, you graceful boy.