Sunday, October 30, 2011

Slippin' and Slidin'

Life in the world of full-time foreign missions is a regular, daily exercise in intensely spiritual and emotional experiences; both the highs and the lows come with the territory and lead me into fuller, deeper communion with God - for that I am grateful. But not everything about mission work is heavy. There are everyday occurrences that require laughter as a coping mechanism (i.e. dealing with cultural and language issues), and others that are just outright hilarious. 

If we had seasons here we would be entering spring, but since we are situated only about 3.5 degrees below the equator - so close we can almost touch this imaginary line - the climate here is pretty consistent year round (other areas of Peru are jealous when they are in the throes of winter). Instead we jungle people distinguish our seasons using the terms 'rainy' and 'dry' (which is subject to questioning because we often have as much rain during the 'dry' season as we do in 'rainy'). We are entering what is considered the official 'rainy season.'

Last week brought several days of torrential rain to Iquitos. On Thursday morning, during a particularly potent downpour, I was scheduled to meet with the architect in charge of the new construction here on the Jardin property at 7 a.m. Having spent so much time on this property over the past 5 years, I am well aware that the dampness and dense foliage in here produces algae, and this said algae makes itself at home on concrete surfaces. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that algae and rain make a very slick combination. Because I am aware of this, however, I was being overly cautious as Villa and I headed out the back door of the main house and across the property to the construction area. Walking gingerly, I paid close attention to the sidewalk, avoiding spots with the potential for disaster. But on this day, caution would not be enough…

The gigantic rain drops pelted me, slapping my jacket with a steady rhythm, as the fatal moment arrived. It happened so fast, yet it was as if I was moving in slow motion. Mere steps away from my destination, I placed my flip-flop clad foot down and began what can only be described as a half-split, followed by a partial back-bend and full leg extension, accompanied by a backstroke motion (ensuring that my upper back hit the concrete first), followed by the painful thud of my rear, winding down into a rocking motion, and ending with me lying flat on my back in a full stretch (arms overhead, elongated body and all). I'll allow you a break here to recover from the hysterical laughter you are now experiencing as a result of the mental picture of my crash.

In reality the fall took about 15 seconds (or less) from start to finish, but it seemed more like 5 minutes as I watched Villa reaching out for me in his unsuccessful attempt to catch me, or at least help break my fall while shouting "No, Pamelita, No, Pamelita, No Pamelita!" Perhaps the highlight of my slippin' and slidin' was lying on the algae coated concrete (my legs actually came to rest in a sopping wet pile of deteriorating leaves) in the pouring rain, most of my clothes and body now covered in muck, listening to the construction workers cheering and clapping. Evidently I delivered an award-winning performance. 

Luckily my sense of humor was not injured in the least - my first reaction was to laugh. Other than a sore wrist and a still-aching tail bone, no harm was done, and three days later I chuckle heartily when I think about how I must have looked on my way down. 

You'll be happy to know that business did not suffer - I picked my filthy, dirty self up, walked over to the engineer, shook his hand, and met with him as planned.

Recommended Reading

  • The Bible
  • Serving with Eyes Wide Open - Doing Short Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence - David A. Livermore
  • Cross-Cultural Servanthood - Serving the World in Christlike Humility - Duane Elmer
  • Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It) - Robert D. Lupton
  • When Helping Hurts-Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself - Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
  • Shadow of the Almighty - Elizabeth Elliot
  • Messy Spirituality - Michael Yaconelli
  • The Irresistible Revolution - Shane Claiborne
  • Peace Child - Don Richardson
  • If God Should Choose - Kristen Stagg
  • In the Presence of My Enemies - Gracia Burnham
  • Inside Afghanistan - John Weaver
  • Same Kind of Different as Me - Ron Hall and Denver Moore
  • Through Gates of Splendor - Elizabeth Elliot
  • End of the Spear - Steve Saint