Friday, April 6, 2012

When Words Fail

I love language and communication. I love to talk in and around and through things, wrap words around experiences, and process, process, process.  But how in the world do I answer the question: "so, how was your trip?"  I can't seem to figure it out.
  • I can and often say: "uhhhh, good." - this is woefully insufficient, but often, it's exactly what people want to hear.  I get obligatory pats on the back and bewildered smiles.
  • I've toyed around with: "completely life changing in every way and everything about my world is different now." - this tends to catch people off guard and completely overwhelm them, leaving us staring at each other in awkward silence...not a great approach.
  • I've tried: "what trip?" while feigning malaria-induced delirium.
  • To forfeit, I say: "great, I'll have to show you pictures sometime." - of course, this never happens, but it does let people off the hook and allows them to feel good about themselves for asking.
  • For those friends who really, really, really want to know and care deeply, I say: "It was heart breaking, completely joyous, beautiful in every way, intimidating, filling, emptying, and then filling again..."  and then we sit for long hours and laugh and cry and honor the inevitable silence that comes when words aren't enough.  
All this to say, words fail.  They are mere shadows of a gigantic, looming experience that will inform who I am, in ways that I cannot even comprehend, for the rest of my days.  I ask for patience as I figure out how to process this experience, use it, and live into it.


  1. I know---how do you go back to the life you knew before you went to Mozambique? I'm still trying to figure that out almost three years later.

  2. Hopefully, one never returns to life as it was before a Mozambique (or any cultural) visit. One of the major objectives of the Mozambique/Missouri Initiative (without researching written objectives) is the spiritual encouragement which Mozambicans share with Missourians. At least as a missionary serving in that country at the time of the original start-up of the church conferences' relationship of sharing.
    This same objective served well with various visitors, VIM's, and delegations. Many visitors' hearts were forever changed, careers changed, and lots of tears cleansed souls of life-long, unnoticed issues and brought a more gentle spirit to many a returning guest. We sometimes call this change, "Mozambique sand got in our shoes and will not leave." Many blessings on friendships made in this cross-cultural setting with brothers and sisters sitting and dancing in the United Methodist Church.