My definition of adventure is perhaps a bit open. I count adventure as taking a rickshaw on my own for the first time, wading through a large puddle because there was no way around it on the road and having a local man laugh at you and give you a thumbs up, braving the bus station on my own, and learning that one of the main tarmac roads in the city was built by Osama Bin Laden and the city never paid him back. Stuff like that.
Today there was the potential for a small disaster. Thankfully this potential was not realized.
So my friend L and I went to the boys center as we do on Wednesdays to play games and do activities and things. We get there around 12, say hi to the lady who is cooking lunch, and have 2.5 hours of Jenga, soccer type games, Legos and checkers. Sometimes we do coloring and such. It is really pretty mellow and kind of unstructured for now until I figure out more of what I am doing and because the supervisor guy who is usually there and can translate was not there today.
Which brings me to the potential for disaster. L and I start to clean up to leave, realize that the cooking lady left leaving no adults there. Hmmm. So I call J, who is a lovely South African girl in her 30’s who works mainly at the center for the older boys and has been here for a year or so. She says to text in 20 minutes if no one is there still. That time comes and goes and I let her know and she starts trying to get a hold of anyone on staff including the British lady who runs things. J can’t get ahold of anyone, so texts me to let me know she has a taxi and is on her way. But she lives across the bridge and is kind of a ways away.
L has to leave. Which leaves 12 boys who know no English with a girl brand new to the country who’s Arabic is pretty much limited to greetings, thank you, sorry, and numbers 1-12. It was not a good day to leave my dictionary at home.
So the boys start dishing out lunch and give me a huge bowl of it with 4 loaves of bread. (Usually they have 1 apiece at each meal) Are you kidding?! So I eat until I am full, which really doesn’t put much of a dent in the bucket of lentil stew they gave me. As we are eating they are of course chatting away in a language I don’t understand and then were clearly talking about me and laughing at one point. I try to indicate that I am full and they kept encouraging me to eat more and motioned that I needed to get big and fat. That is traditionally a really good thing for women here. Finally we reached some sort of understanding.
Then, one of the boys goes in his room and comes out with some sort of medicine and starts to take it. I text J and say, “I guess its ok?” She’d already said that heads were going to roll over the situation and texts back with, “They have medicine!!! More heads will roll!” A few of the boys went off to do their own thing and then a few got out books with me and we played the they-point-to-a-picture-and-say-the-word-in-Arabic-and-I-repeat game. Over and over.
What struck me about this whole time was that they obviously knew that I was the only adult there, that I knew no Arabic, and they were still calm and good and pleasant. They could have gone nuts and done most anything and what could I have done about it? We’re talking about boys who have lived on the streets. Most have been addicted to drugs at some point, some who are the sons of prostitutes, all I am sure have stolen food or money or both, and goodness knows what else. Many of them have changed so much for the better, but I am well aware that they are anything but angels. I am not sure why, but I am exceedingly thankful, that they were all on their best behavior. One of the oldest boys even went and bought sodas for L and I while we were waiting and figuring out what to do. I have baby-sat for good kids that were worse than these boys.
In any case, I was very happy when J finally got there. She did a head count and all were accounted for (Whew!), asked me if I knew where the lock for the door was (nope), and then bought the boys bananas for being so lovely.
I stuck around for a little while longer, but then reached the point where I could not take any more of the Arabic lesson game and left them in J’s capable hands.
There was clearly a miscommunication somewhere and it wasn’t a big deal, but it could have been. Half of the boys are bigger than I am. Any number of things could have gone wrong. Everyday I see God’s faithful hand and I am reminded daily, and sometimes moment by moment, how much I need Jesus. Seriously if I did not know that God was sovereign, good, and loved me I could not navigate through every crazy day.