I have a small confession to make. I’m having a hard time making the transition to living in Congo. Living on this modern wonder of a ship is not helping me make the transition either. The ship is a veritable microcosm in itself. We have ourselves a tiny, multicultural world with all the amenities one could possibly need. Okay, not all the amenities, but I’m pretty satisfied with what’s available.
The only time I even consider stepping out of this tiny world is on the weekend. But as time goes by, I find fewer and fewer reasons to get off the boat.
Allow me to explain. I don’t feel safe. No, there isn’t any rampant crime to speak of aside from the usual pickpocket and thievery. But there are crowds. I don’t like crowds of any sort in any part of the world. I particularly don’t like crowds in places where I don’t speak the language. I’m painfully uncomfortable.
I’m usually able to compensate for this fear by traveling in a group of people I can understand. But this place is different. The men here are very forward. They are too forward for my sense of well being. I’m not a touchy feely person. Anybody who knows me well knows that about me. I won’t get a massage because it involves a stranger laying his hands on me.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that I had the issue of strange men grabbing my arms to look at my tattoos. That creeped me out enough. Today, I went out for a very short walk with two other girls. We were barely outside the port gate. One girl wanted to purchase a baguette, the other an egg sandwich.
As we stood on the street while the vendor prepared the egg sandwich, someone walked up behind me and ran his hands down my arms in a very intimate fashion. Startled, I swung around to stare into the face of a complete stranger! I moved away from him very quickly. I watched, horrified, as he did the same to my other friend. Finally, my Dutch friend yelled at him in French. He laughed. He moved in on her and touched her inappropriately as well. She kept telling him to get lost. He finally moved away while the crowd looked on. They did nothing to help. All these men and women just stood there saying nothing. All I heard was another man say something very sarcastic which turned out to be why do you come here and not speak our language?
In that instant, it was gone, the illusion of safety. The worst thing is it caused me to flashback to a bad place from many years ago. My two friends think I was overreacting, and maybe I did a little, but they don’t know what I lived through.
I’m not naive. There is no place on earth that is safe. This world belongs to the enemy. But I don’t know how to navigate this new territory of strangers. I don’t know the rules of their game. I don’t know where the good neighborhoods are. I don’t know where the bad neighborhoods are. I don’t have any way to defend myself. I don’t have the language skill I need. There is no 911.
And I don’t know what I’m going to do about it?
Please pray for safety. Pray for me to let go of this fear that seems to be growing instead of receding. Pray for me to stand against the schemes of the enemy because our battle isn’t against flesh and blood.
As always, thanks for listening, for love, support, and prayers.
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