Fresh Fruit and Guns – reflecting on adaptation

I’ve often realized that many people can adapt surprisingly fast. Whether to a new job, different kinds of food, or being in a different environment we all find ways to cope with the change. We find ways to adapt. And out of necessity this usually happens quickly in many cases. However, we often don’t realize how much we’ve adapted until we are again removed from the situation (or until a newer person comes along and points this out to us).

We have been in Sudan for about 2 1/2 months and have adapted to the heat, the language, the food, the lack of electricity. We have been learning how to deal with these things. But the prospect of going to Nairobi for meetings filled both of us with great excitement. We knew in Nairobi we would have fresh vegetables, cool evenings, and coffee shops to hang out in. We knew that it would be a great time to rest and relax and reflect about all we have been learning about in Sudan.

We arrived in Nairobi and were greeted with fresh green salad, ice cream, and identifiable meat. Our excitement turned to giddiness. I got in the shower and turned on hot water and scrubbed away the Sudanese dirt that had become a permanent feature on my feet. My giddiness turned to jubilation. Then I thought, “This is ridiculous. I feel like I am a released prisoner enjoying freedom for the first time in 20 years. I need to get a hold of myself. Sudan is not that bad.”

It is true. Sudan is not that bad. I was being overly dramatic.

A few days later we were out going for a walk and a truck filled with young men passed by. I was surprised to see that these young men were not armed with large guns. Then I was surprised to realize that that was my expectation. I guess 2 months of seeing armed soldiers everywhere had imprinted itself into my conscience. It was strange for me to think about this.

As a peace worker I see lots of “peace statistics” and one of those statistics listed Canada as a country with “high peace” (5 on a scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being the most peaceful and 1 being the least. For the people from the States – you live in a level 3 country). Sudan, as you may guess, was a country with “high conflict” (number 1 on the previously mentioned scale). This fact may be the largest adaptation Joel and I have had to make – living in a country where insecurity is great. Living in a way that is life-giving, living in a way that isn’t fearful, living in a way that honours our neighbours who have grown up in war.


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