Communal Bathing

In a mountain stream in SouthEast Asia, I came upon a lady collecting river moss to make sushi wrappers. Seeing that the task looked tedious I decided to “help her”. I staggered behind her on the slippery rocks spending more time regaining balance then collecting moss. She continued her work as precious laughter intermixed with words I could not understand. I am clueless as to what she said, but her face led me to believe she found me humorous and lovable.


We filled her bag and waved goodbye. Not long after as I was sitting in the natural hot spring tub at our guest house (missionary life is rough), there she was again. She had come to the river, like all the villagers, to take her bath. Now I had never really been exposed to communal bathing, but I learned most women manage to bathe while staying covered. The older ladies, however, find themselves beyond modesty and they bathe topless! My new friend happened to be old….

She spotted me in the hot tub and her and her friends moved there bathing spot close so that we could continue our bonding. Then she jumped up in the hot tub with me and took a big cup and poured the hot water over me. Even if I had known the language I would have still been speechless. I  laughed awkwardly as my new little topless Asian friend “helped me get warm!”

ImageMy coworker Andy says “Nudity builds community!” While I am not yet sold on this fact, I do know that I love that woman. I know that she comes to the forefront of my prayers and I know that I wish more than anything that she knew the Lord. My lack of language and the strict government watch held my tongue captive. Yet in the simplicity of picking river moss, cooking rice, defeathering chickens, modeling traditional clothing, fluffing cotton and yes even communal bathing, communication and relationships formed. I pray fervently for the day we can stand a top those mountains proclaiming truth, but I am thankful for the silent messages shared between two women and the privilege to pray for this woman everyday. 


*I feel as though this title might get almost as much attention at Surviving the Bush Commando did two years ago! The mission field puts you in some strange positions*


Surviving the Bush Commando

Remember the days of summer as a child. The time when you only needed one outfit because you were just going to keep getting it dirty. The time when all you had time for was playing outside with your friends. Do we even remember the time when a box could entertain us for hours and we thought a new toothbrush was a great gift? Simplicity; a concept the Lord brought me back to half way around the world.

With packing complete and goodbyes waved, I boarded the plane for the simple life. After 36 hours of traveling, I breathed in the beautifully pungent smell of Africa, a smell I have come to love. Our team sat and watched the luggage belt go round and round for nearly an hour until we concluded that 11 of our bags were still sitting in Paris. We listed all the things in the bags that we really needed (like  solar panels and underwear!) and we prayed for the Lord to provide.

However, tangled up in the American life, we had no understanding of what Jehovah Jireh, my provider, really meant. A day later I headed to a small village with only the things I had carried on. The Lord had provided. Down to the last packet of oatmeal, the Lord had divinely orchestrated our every need.

Surviving the bush commando comes down to one basic word: simplicity. The Lord is crying out live simply, simply speak, rest in the simplicity of your call amidst the complexity of your world. I thought that in my 50 pairs of shoes and cabinets full of kitchen supplies, I had acquired my basic needs, but away from the media floods and the consumerism there is a place of peace, of satisfaction; a place where I finally understood the Lord’s provision. For when I had little I could call mine, Jehovah Jireh shown clear! As I sit in the Finland airport on my way to India with only the things on my back I have no fear and no desire for the things I a do not have; I go with an eternal promise what more could I need?