Sunday, August 2, 2015

What You See

Something I've learned as I've gotten older, met different types of people, and traveled to several places, is that there are many commonalities in various cultures. "Everyone smiles in the same language" is printed on a poster in my classroom, featuring children of different races. This is a phrase that has echoed in my mind time and time again as I found myself in desolate African villages where I literally knew no other way to communicate with the people.
It's a phrase that has been written across my face as a woman directs me where to go in her thick, fluid Spanish lingo. It's one that has floated through my mind as I made funny faces at a joyful infant. 

Common courtesy and respect go a long way in cultivating both meaningful and temporary relationships in many cultures. In the south we say "yes/no ma'am/sir." Elders  are greeted with the word "shikamo" in Tanzania. Many cultures expect that children remain quiet at the dinner table.

I learned something new in my most recent trip to TZ that crosses the barriers of culture, language, AND species.

Yes, species.

I'll just say it so we don't have to dwell on it and can carry on: I'm obsessed with my dog. 
Need I say more?!
 Although he's pretty perfect in my eyes, he's a little trouble maker. I can pretty confidently say that Ollie has gotten more spankings than the young Brittany Anderson ever did. When he gets to nosing around in things that he shouldn't, he hears me make a loud, firm clap and say "ENNNNT." You know the sound--the one your mom made when you tried to lick the bowl full of batter before it had been put into the pan. The one your friend made when you got a trivia answer wrong. The one that "some teacher" may or may not have accidentally used on students when they were trying to prematurely rotate stations.  {Go on...say it out loud so we can all make sure we're on the same page. ENNNNT!} Yeah, all creatures seem to freeze when you make that sound {cue the Swahili speaking herd at VBS!}

Something that always seems to shock me when I go to TZ is the difference in the way bodies are viewed. I can remember being warned before my first trip over there that they would probably call some people fat, but they don't mean it to be rude. It's just a simple observation. 

Something along those lines was said on my trip there earlier this summer, and it is sure to stay with me forever. My sweet friend  Beth and I went on an African safari. We saw a lot of beautiful things and have a lot of great stories to tell from that adventure.  Probably half of those stories have to do with our safari guide, Benji.  
We had many interesting conversations with him, none more memorable that the one when he told us that many African men like girls who are fat.

I can only write this next part with a smile on my face and a gut that hurts from laughing because it simply isn't true.  He said to Bethi, "You have on a big body."

"You're fat."
"You have a big body."
You have ON a big body.
Some things that I might typically have ON: deoderant, earrings, glasses, makeup.  Something I've never considered having on: my body.
Isn't she beautiful?! And she does NOT have on a big body!
What an interesting way to phrase that! I can't help but see the spiritual application here. We are simply souls abiding in the flesh here on earth. What we look like on the outside isn't what really is important.  What would you look like if your designer clothes were stripped off of you? If you didn't have the body of a gym rat? If you couldn't hide behind your mountain man beard? If all we could view of each other was our souls?

Did you just get a lump in your throat? There have been many times in my life that I would be ashamed if people could have seen beyond the body I "have on" and could see the sin within.

It's really pretty cool to think about being a soul in a body while on Earth knowing that we'll take a different form in the everlasting. I recently read an article about what happens after you die. It is a subject that there is a lot of controversy over in many religions and denominations, and there is clearly a lot of misunderstanding of the Scriptures. Read it {HERE}

A lot of well-meaning people try consoling me with encouraging words stating that they KNOW Bradford is in Heaven. Acts 2, by itself, proves that a person does not go straight to heaven or hell when he dies, and that a person does not become extinct, cease to exist, or pass into a state of unconsciousness at death.  It gives me great comfort to know that Bradford is very much in an alert state and not just sleeping. I often wonder what Paradise must be like for him. Although his body has returned to the dust from which he was formed, his soul will live for eternity--as will so many others' that we know and love who have gone on before us!

I found this journal on another trip this summer:
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -Henry David Thoreau
What are you looking at?  What do you see?

When God looks at you, your life, and your mind, what does HE see?

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