If patience is a virtue, God must want me to become a saint.
We have been waiting to move on for over a week now, and it seems like the plan keeps changing. Also, our HUMMWVs have been needing a lot of repairs, so we wait for the mechanics to fix the latest problem. Today, one of them would not start without a jump, so it was back to the motor pool to fix yet another problem.
The weather has also been a factor - a convoy went down to where we are supposed to go several days back, and got stuck badly. A rescue team with a giant wrecker was sent to drag them out, but the wrecker got stuck, so the convoy was stuck for days before they could return. Of course, we didn’t want to suffer the same fate, so we have been waiting for the ground to become dry and hard, to prevent our getting stuck ourselves.
After a while, if you’re ready to go, you can’t get more ready. It gets annoying, waiting to start the thing you came here to do. We feel a bit useless, sitting around waiting while others have real work to do. But soon that will change, and perhaps we will wish we had time on our hands like we do now.
Next week will be Palm Sunday. Back home, my wife will get out the Easter decorations, and she will get Easter baskets and prepare for Easter. They will go to church, like we do every Palm Sunday. I will not only not be there, I may not even be able to call them. And I will likely not have a church service here, either, unless we make our own.
It doesn’t feel like Easter season over here, but it certainly is spring - the weather has steadily been getting warmer (in this part of Afghanistan, it gets up into the 80-90 degree Fahrenheit range in the summer). Obviously, Easter is not a holiday shared between Christians and Muslims - the Quran says that Jesus merely appeared to have died, and was later taken up bodily into heaven some time after the crucifixion (the details of Jesus’ not dying and life after he appeared to be crucified but was not are sketchy in the Quran). So Muslims do not celebrate Easter at all, because they do not believe in Jesus’ resurrection as Christians do (this does not mean they do not believe in Jesus - ironically, Jesus plays a key part in the Muslim eschatology: Jesus’ return is part of the beginning of the end, signaling the coming arrival of God’s Day of Judgment, similar to Christian eschatology).
I will miss having the family traditions. I will miss singing the hymns I love. I will miss the special feeling of greeting fellow Christians with the Easter greeting, “Christ is risen!” and their replying “He is risen indeed!” I will miss having the rituals and traditions that sustain my optimism when I am beginning to need them most, over here.
My oldest daughter’s birthday will be two weeks after Easter. I cannot be sure if I will be able to call to wish her a happy birthday or not. I will have to order a gift online and have it shipped to her, because we don’t have a post office anywhere near here for me to buy something here and ship it home. I will be lucky to get a card for her here to mail her for her birthday.
These are the events that make a family, and they make us homesick. For those like me who are off the beaten path on our missions, the connection gets thinner and thinner the farther we get from major US installations. It’s something we wait to get, like everything else here. My patience is thin as well, I’m afraid. I certainly need more of it.
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.