Change Here. Change There.

In keeping with our regular, once-monthly routine, I spent around 45 minutes on the phone with my pastor friend, Prakash and his lovely wife Harsha, this morning. They live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It’s located in the lower half of the eastern side of the continent of Africa. They are nine hours ahead of me here in Colorado. I’ve always loved that when I turn in for the night, they are just waking up to begin their day. That came in handy right after Chris’s seizure and I was afraid to go to bed at night. I would email Prakash and tell him I was scared at my bedtime hour and I knew (because he was just arriving at work and checking his email) that he would receive my message and pray for me at that moment that I was about to rest my head. I knew his prayers were upon me, upon us, as we slept all night. I call him my pastor friend, but, really, he and his wife mean more to me than that. 

I took this photo of Harsha and Prakash seven years ago when I visited them in Tanzania.
I took this photo of Harsha and Prakash seven years ago when I visited them in Tanzania.

This morning during our conversation, Prakash confided in me that they are realizing changes occurring in their lives. Changes good and not-so-good. The physical changes of growing older (she is 58 and he is 60), as well as change around them, in their church and their community. He tells me about change in his work environment. Changes in management and employment in his office. He tells me about how his tiny Christian church of around 20 to 25 congregants is growing…not in number, but in faith. That’s great change! He tells me of their health and how Harsha has been diagnosed with diabetes and they have to now adjust to a change in eating habits and exercise regimes. He shared with me how he had terrible sinus pain last week and a swollen throat which discouraged him and made it hard for him to work and do his job successfully. He was in a bad mood last week.

Then I told him that Chris was also in a bad mood last week for similar reasons. I understood him when he aired his grievances about illness and feeling crummy. I let him know that there are a handful of illnesses currently being passed around my own community and every day we amp up our vitamin C and work hard to prevent exposure. And then he said, “Aah…supplements.”  He went on to explain how important supplements were and how badly the body needs them, especially when more and more nutrients seem to not make their way into the food he eats. So I asked him if its easy for them to get supplements in the city where he lives and he replied, “No.” He knows how important they are , yet he doesn’t have access to them. I told him I’d look into maybe sending him some…

I listened to him share his concern for change in their lives. I felt for him as he opened up about not always feeling content in his job. I understood his desire, a deep deep desire, to care for his wife and help her to remain comfortable. My heart felt as his heart felt when he asked for prayer that God would keep their adult son who lives in London, healthy and safe and happy. “We just want happiness for him…” He said.

Doesn’t every parent want that for their child?

I thank God for the gift of Prakash and Harsha in my life and wonder how I get to be the lucky one who maintains such a special friendship with them.

Then this afternoon, Chris approached me in a solemn way. Very, very solemn. I’ve always said about my husband, “He’s always ok, really, really ok and fine…until he’s not.” This time he was not. He proceeded to tell me that he and his team will no longer be allowed to work from home. After five years working outside the office, they are being forced back in full time. My heart fell in a heavy way and I sort of took my breath in as if waiting for him to tell me that somehow it wasn’t actually true. I even thought for a fleeting moment, in a moment of defensiveness, “Wait a minute, is today April 1?” What a lousy joke.

We took the news very badly, if I’m being honest. His working from home has been a true blessing and a mighty convenience. Throughout the passing of this afternoon, each realization of what’s about to change for us in the next 60 days has dropped down, as if from out of the air somewhere. There are many things that we will have to become readjusted to.

And then I thought of Prakash again and the idea that change is universal occurred to me in a big way. No one is free from it. Not me or you or him or them or the President of the United States! My dear friend on the other side of the globe is experiencing change just like us, and actually, very like us…work, health, family, the passage of time…

As I kick and scream about not wanting my husband to go back to working in the office, I realize I must dig very, very deeply to find that place of acceptance and understand that we are so grateful that Chris still has a job. That we are in good health. That our children are safe and happy and well. We have so much to be thankful for! Supplements!! I have them. I take them for granted!

I will miss my husband during the day time. The last five years have been wonderful. We never dreamed that this day would come. And, as today comes to an end, I realize that it is in fact March 20, not April 1, and I will work to put it all into perspective. 

It was Prakash who reminded me recently that when God takes something away, He only wants to make room for something else, something better. This was right after Prakash learned that half of his missionary support would be cut, making it hard for him to make financial ends meet! And I think of my friend, “How are you like this? Don’t you want to kick and scream?” And I pray the prayer, “God, help me with my unbelief.” That I actually couldn’t (wouldn’t?) trust the Creator of the Universe, the lover of my soul, to steer us away from the dark? Hasn’t He already time and time again? 

As much as Prakash and Harsha tell me what a blessing I am in their lives, I declare it to be much the opposite. Today I learned how change isn’t exclusive to the side of the world I live on. Today I was given an opportunity to open my eyes and remember my many blessings that still exist and trust that only good will come of the change ahead of us.

But, can’t I still kick and scream about it a little longer, though? Isn’t that permitted? Just a little bit more….I’m almost done.

One comment

Wow has it really been 7 years since you went half way around the world? How time does fly. How our lives do change over that time. I think of you often.