Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where are the Colors of Fall

I may be a few weeks behind here.  In fact, I probably am since I am seeing snowy photos on facebook from Colorado already. 

But, this week we sang the song, Indescribable, by Chris Tomlin.  Normally when I listen to this song I get quite nostalgic reflecting on the seasonal sensations bursting forth around me. "From the colors of fall, to the fragrance of spring..." "Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go, or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow...."  All of this lyrical imagery makes me connect the dots with the current climate outside and I remember what I treasure about each season.

And, oh the fall! The brilliant yellows, reds, and burnt oranges - that crispness in the air; the baking that begins to warm our toes and tummies - gingers, apples, cinnamon, caramel; the crunch under the feet as the frosts begin and the leaves tumble down: I love fall!

But this week I had a reality check: It's nearly the end of October!  Those colors of fall exist- somewhere, out there.  But not here, in Guinea, West Africa.

Here the colors of fall look pretty much like the colors of any other month.  A little less rain, as we come into the close of a six month rainy season so we see more and more sun and less puddles to avoid on the dock.
We see the colors or imported goods, of green apples that arrive from a shipping container
and other loads piled high.
We see the colors of locally grown melons, pineapples, oranges (that are green in Africa), peppers, mangoes, tomatoes and lettuce.

And we see the colors of the sea - the tranquil blues, greys, and greens of the water's edge

the view of Conakry from the area just by the port

the water as the boats load up for commuters to and from the islands just off the coast
the bright orange of the Ministry of Fishing and Aquaculture life jacket adorning us as we cross to the islands
the endless blues of water and sky, that sometimes blend together

the water where we are docked, alongside other container ships, naval vessels, fishing boats and tugs - water that varies in shade and clarity from hour to hour

the cliff alongside Casa Island, which we round on the way to Roume Island for a day of R&R on the weekend

We also embrace the rich colors of the land here - the reds of the clay, and the greens that envelope everything above ground post rainy season

and the colors of nature that subtlely and covertly paint the world around us:
the earthy tones of mushrooms and fungi

the red, browns and blacks of little insects looking to devour all they see

beautiful butterflies oblivious whose colors are oblivious to the political boundaries

And we enjoy the spectrum of the sun as it shows its splendor throughout the day
bouncing off of patterns of sand

the days where it hides a bit behind layers of clouded haze

and days when you pray for the haze to come

and spectacular, one-of-a-kind sunsets that take your breath away, reminding us of the great big God we serve

and the vibrant colors of Africa - some beautiful, and some heartbreaking
trash and the work and sustenance it provides for so many as they find their living in its midst,
 plastic tarps that provide a shelter, rust, moss, and weathered frosting that coats all it touches

rainy season leftovers, bringing a deluge of castoffs to create their own community - often at the expense of others.

Brillant yellows, greens, reds and oranges do exist here, just in a different form:

displayed for the city to see as the wash is left out to dry
soccer jerseys, headwraps, fabric to create baby slings in bright patterns and obscure designs
tubs that transport life-saving water, cooking oil, or palm wine
So we enjoy our October - not with leaves changing and falling to the ground, but with the rains coming to an end.  Not with cinnamon and spice and pumpkins and candy, but with bananas and avocados and anticipation for the first mangos of the season. Not with a crispness of the air, but with humidity and sun.  And still, we recognize how Indescribable this amazing place and these amazing people are that God has created. 

*special thanks to all the crew members who contributed their photos for collective use onboard the Africa Mercy.  Your eye for the picturesque makes this blog come to life!

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