Wednesday, November 24, 2010

About Gullawas!

"Gullawa" means people with white skin and foreign origins. Gullawas are very wise people who know absolutely nothing about life. They have a lot to learn. They need to learn to eat, talk, take a bath, keep their sarongs from falling down, and walk through the house without falling through the floor. They are like giant toddlers, stalking through the land. They make amusing blunders all the time, but most of the time they seem blissfully unaware of them. One feels sorry for them, especially when they get that helpless, embarrassed look on their faces.

The gullawa takes up the line:
When you become a gullawa, simple duties turn into hair-raising adventures!

One time, I decided to practice splitting firewood. My host, Naw Lah, had already started, and she had her baby tied to her back. So I walked over and graciously offered to do it for her. It was soon apparent that I was the feeblest wood splitter ever seen in those parts, and I admitted defeat, and she hinted that I could go cook the rice. Now that posed a problem. Because before you cook rice, you must build a fire. So I went and sat down before the fire place. And when she came back a few moments later, I was still sitting there, looking helplessly toward the place where a fire should have been. (Have mercy! I didn't know where to find the fire lighter.) But Naw Lah soon had a kettle of rice simmering over a nice fire.

Spying a pumpkin, I offered to cook the main dish for her. For surely I could cut up a pumpkin! Not realizing that I might need her, Naw Lah left the kitchen. That turned out to be a good thing, because some unexpected difficulties loomed before me.

First of all, I couldn't find a cutting board. So I did the best I could, and took it to the bamboo porch. That is the place where you wash dishes and take a bath, while the pigs wallow beneath. Oh for a cutting board!

Second of all, the knife! It was too dull to be a knife, didn't work like a saw, and I didn't know how to use it like an ax. But I managed to divide the pumpkin into several pieces (don't ask me how), which were turning brown from the dirty porch poles. At least it would be boiled. Now for bite-sized pieces. I definitely wasn't taking for granted anymore the perfectly cut chunks, with smooth edges, in Naw Lah's curry that morning. Mine looked like they'd been chewed off by a rat or something. And they were falling through the large cracks between the poles. Presently Naw Lah came back, and I asked, with motions, for a cutting board, not really thinking that there was one. But there was!

From there on, things were downhill easy, and after washing off the dirt and sweat, my pumpkin pieces were soon sliding into a kettle of water to be cooked. The curry was delicious. But I don't blame you if you wouldn't eat it after hearing the story.

Anyway, if you want to get humble, become a gullawa. There is no quicker way to lose all your pride.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Heart's Ideal

It seems it's important not to get distracted as a missionary. The needs are so great, that one could easily spend all his time taking people to the hospital, or buying food to feed the hungry, and not have any time to, for example, learn to speak their language.

But the spiritual needs are even greater...

If the missionary is going to be able to lead the people to God, he or she must be someone the people can relate to, not some superman gullawa with lots of money.

Wouldn't it be better to live with them and like them, personally treating them with natural remedies when they are sick, giving what we have instead of buying handouts, and letting them come to curiously look over our shoulders as we practice reading the Bible in their language? Don't we need to take off our shoes and put on theirs if we want to understand them and reach them?

This is my heart's ideal of a true missionary. It seems if there were a person, couple, or family living like this in every village, "Jesus is coming soon" would become more than a cliche.

People Need the Lord

I opened my eyes, and the romanticism of missionary life was gone. I saw the filth, the dirty kids, the endless round of mundane activities, and human beings as they are without refinement and manners to make them appear more sophisticated than they are.

And I wondered, Do they ever think about the purpose or purposelessness of their lives? Do they feel the meaninglessness of life without a God to love and a heaven to look forward to? Especially where there are no artificial distractions, where each day is a monotonous round, and every coming year holds more or less the same, don't they get an empty feeling? I can see it and feel it. What would it be like to grow up in this village, and not know that there is a God, that He loves you, and that there is a better world after this? I still need to try to imagine what that would be like better.

A question for us: Are we content to live our own lives under the "security blanket" of the blessed hope, or will we give our lives to make it ours and to give others hope?