People Who Will Stick
All I could think of on the way to the airport, enthroned on a great pile of luggage, were the extraordinarily different circumstances taking me there this time around. Seven months ago, I had dropped everything and fled, to the one place I least expected and least wanted to be. Worn, torn, broken and tired, I was glad to just rest my head on the window pane and be alone. Oh the worlds of change one can travel in seven short months – and travel them I have. Suddenly, nestled down between the piles of books and movies and candy corn and marshmallows intended for my Tangier friends, I had packed joy… and that changed everything.
Well, we had quite the time trying to get our bags underweight again, which seems to be a perennial Paasch problem. It’s kind of like a thousand-piece puzzle, and no matter how much arranging and rearranging we do, we always have massive bags and they are always massively heavy. British Airways, however, has recently decided to start saying “no bags over 50 pounds”, which was a genuine Christmas miracle, and both of us made it on board with virtually no trouble at all.
There was, of course, the obligatory getting-lost, which no night in a foreign city can be without! Dad stopped our taxi, sure that he had found Theresa’s building… based on the graffiti on the neighbor’s wall. Which, of course, was hardly encouraging. After knocking on three or four doors on three or four floors, I wandered down and out the stairs to sit on the curb. Not a minute later, three white people came around the corner – and three white people from Phoenix, no less! We spent a lovely evening with our friends, after which I promptly passed out on a Spanish air mattress about 18 times as thick as your average Walmart version.
I woke to the dulcet tones of an African street fight, which I obviously recorded… and soon enough Dad and I were out the door and headed to coffee with our dear friend __________. Our friend has been faithfully running a radio station broadcasting to North Africa for a good 27 years now, and his knowledge and expertise have already proved invaluable. We discussed the current atmosphere of Morocco – which is still, unfortunately, very tense – and picked his brain a bit about service projects that Western students could get involved in during semesters abroad. With the influx of Moroccan immigrants to Spain growing exponentially, he’s in a bind to have resources and classes to offer them at the nearby community center he runs with his wife. “We suffer,” he stated sadly. “Too many teachers come, teach for a couple of weeks, and then they are gone. Students will come, and then a week later wonder, ‘Where is our teacher?’ We suffer, brother. We do.”
As I listened and watched him, I couldn’t help but think that… people really DO care. They care about the poor, they care about making a difference, they care about leaving what’s comfortable and giving a little of themselves; a little of what they know. They do! The trouble is – they don’t care enough. Anyone can be motivated for a week or two and, when the honeymoon ends, go home happy and light-hearted, having “paid their dues” to humanity, so to speak. ‘Until next year,’ we tell ourselves. ‘Next summer we’ll plan another little trip like this!’
The kingdom coming doesn’t need enthusiasts. It has plenty of those.
The kingdom needs people who will stick.
Dad and I wandered back together, and soon enough were on a bus headed due south to the deep blue sea, to the tune of Mumford & Sons’ “Roll Away Your Stone.”
Stars, hide your fires
For these here are my desires
And I won’t give them up to you this time around.
And so I will be found
With my stake stuck in the ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul.