Decompression is a common experience following a plunge into another culture, particularly a society whose needs are as deep as those we meet in
But that doesn’t last long. It takes only a short time breathing the air of material prosperity before your soul adjusts to its previous state, discontent in all its comfort. I had not set foot on American soil before I was already returning to that state of soul deficiency.
For nearly two weeks I breathed the air of African poverty. The pastors with whom I studied had nothing compared to the pastors I know at home. Food, clothes, pens, paper, Bibles, education were nearly all luxuries to many of them. For a week we supplied those things before they boarded overcrowded busses to return to their villages and trading centers.
We “prayer-walked” in Kashanyarzi, where poverty and disease were palpable and stench-filled like
Small blackchildren with runny noses and filthy hands followed us about the
Then the British Air 777 lands at Heathrow and an air-conditioned bus takes me to the Holiday Inn. I begin to breathe the air to which my soul has become accustomed, and before long I have begun reentry. My room is too hot or too cold. The internet doesn’t work. My slacks are wrinkled from their two weeks in the suitcase. The buffet at the restaurant is too expensive. British food tastes bland to my Tex Mex palate. The next morning the process continues. The video screen at my seat on my flight home is “conked out” (to use the flight attendant’s technical explanation), so I am unable to watch in-flight movies. The headrest on my seat does not remain extended and is uncomfortable. By the time I land in