I finished a two-month training course on Thursday.
About an hour before we ended, the sewage truck pulled up. He comes more regularly than I would choose–maybe weekly?–and to be honest I’m not certain what they do.
I am certain it involves sewage.
The truck pulls up out front and drags a hose around the back, creating the loud truck rumbling from the front door of our classroom and the sucking sound of the hose at the back door. For the sounds and smells, the doors and windows are closed pretty quickly.
However, the doors and windows are our air-flow in a very hot, stuffy building. So the fan is pulled out to keep the air moving, including the created smells. And yes, the fan is only pulled out for this, not for the average 90 degree days.
In addition to giving air flow, the doors and windows give light to the building. Only one of the lights in the room works. Once the door is closed, my notes are nearly unreadable in the dark, since I am not under the working light.
I am now standing in the dark, suddenly hotter than I was even minutes ago, shouting over the sounds of a truck sucking sewage through a hose.
And then the smell starts to seep in. It’s not a pleasant smell, but to be honest it’s not as bad as you’d think. It’s a heavy sulfur smell; not something I’d spray on as perfume, but not gag-worthy in my opinion.
Not so to my students and translator. They somehow managed to cook and eat fish paste at lunch without flinching, but the sulfur smell is too much. Within minutes everyone has books or shirts or jackets pulled over their noses, and I am shouting at a room of eyes. In the dark, with a truck barreling behind us.
My translator begins to translate in front of the fan, where apparently the smell is minimal. This requires me to shout louder for him to hear, and then leaves his voice broken into strokes of the fan.
As I am mid-sentence of “teaching”, his phone rings. He answers it, still in front of the fan, shouting over the aforementioned noises, and no longer translating.
And I just laughed. I just sat down and rolled laughing.
I love my job.
I love the chaos: the multiple translators, the variety of interruptions, the constant chewing of betel nut.
I love that these students are the future of Burma: if there is change, they will be bringing it. They are the educated and the passionate.
And they exemplify to me those God is using for “such a time as this,” where the temporary things–government, politicians, and policy–are used for his eternal purposes, his people and his Kingdom (Esther 3:14).
For some reason, this was a reminder that God is bringing his Kingdom, and really in the way he always has: with talking donkeys, misfits, chaos, those in the desert eating locusts and wild honey; where you least expect it.
“Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John [the Baptist]: ‘What did you go out in the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. …From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.'”
(Matthew 11: 7-8, 12)