Clean is Relative (Africa, Part 3)

I'm pretty sure I have some OCD tendencies. Ok, not just pretty sure, but certain. You might know. You've maybe seen it. In my laundry room there is a list of the cleaning chores that should be done - one for every day of the month.  If I get behind on these chores, I would swear that my house is falling apart.

Also, (TMI?) I shave my legs daily. I HATE stubbly body hair. It makes me feel dirty.

And then God told me to visit Africa.

What was He thinking?!

We spent the majority of our time there in a village around an hour away from Freetown, Sierra Leone. And by "village," I mean, a bunch of shacks smushed together near the beach.

One well of questionable water.

No indoor plumbing.

Dirt floors.

No electricity.

Stocked with bugs and lizards.

Really, God? You're sending an OCD clean-freak like me to a village in Aftica?!

What was He thinking?

The first time I attempted to take a shower in a bucket of water (which I believe to be a spiritual gift - I never quite got it down to an art) I kept reminding myself that most of the children in the village were actually taking baths in urine and feces-infested water. Compared to that, I was getting very clean.

Clean is relative.

I'll never again take for granted the fact that hot, clean, drinkable water flows from my shower head.

Back home, I regularly carry my tea mug in my right hand on Sunday mornings. I am enough of a germaphobe that I attempt to avoid shaking hands with others.

In Africa, I shook the hands of hundreds of villagers, pastors, and small children. Many of these hands were sweaty and moist. They had been used to prepare food, clean shacks, and care for children. Each hand though, told a story of hard work and suffering. I shook those hands as if I were greeting the president.

Clean is relative.

I regularly snuggled babies while we were in the villages. These children typically have no diapers. There isn't money to buy cloth or disposable diapers, so most of the children go without pants. I put these children on my hips and kissed their sweet little heads.

Clean is relative.

Before I entered into a relationship with God, my sin and willingness to daily walk away from Him was filthy and disgusting. He saw me as covered in dirt, filled with germs, and disposable. But, because Jesus paid for my wrongdoing and filth, God sees me in the same way that I viewed the beautiful African people we encountered - He sees me as clean. He's willing to allow me into His presence. He not only wants to shake my hand and kiss my forehead - He has embraced me and kissed me (Luke 15:20).

Clean is relative. Especially when viewed through the eyes of Jesus.

(This was part three of a series on our trip to Africa.)

New Job Title (Africa, Part 4)

Ricky and Frank (Africa, Part 2)