17 August 2010

Not Laughing

Last night we were sitting around chatting with some new local friends waiting for the sun to set so we could share a meal together to end their Ramadan fast. We were talking about all sorts of things and conversation moved onto the size of families. Lightheartedly, we'd take turns sharing about so and so, who knew a guy with 24 kids... "No way!" and so and so, who has a dozen brothers and sisters... "Oh my!"

And then an older guy who grew up in this country laughingly said "You know, we have to keep having large numbers of children around here because certainly some of them are going to die and you have to be sure that you have some left! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

The other locals were laughing along with him.

And me?

Not laughing.

I was stone faced. I was shocked that he was essentially making a joke about the high infant mortality rate in the country. Or maybe I was more shocked that his national friends thought it was funny. You'd have thought he made a 'One guy walked into a bar' joke. Which really doesn't fit culturally AT ALL, but you get the point. That is how the others were laughing. It was honestly and truly funny to them.

I glanced around at the few other white faces at the table. We all were looking blank. Or at least displaying a look of confusion about what kind of reaction was appropriate in this moment.

It was not funny to me. We have many local friends who have lost infants and this hit entirely too close to home.

It was not funny at all.

But I was amazed at the resiliency that was being displayed in this lighthearted conversation turned awkward and depressing. It was only awkward and depressing for the internationals around the table. It's true... MANY families lose babies. I'd say most families loose at least one child. I'm sure it hit close to home to the guys laughing too, but they still laughed.

The nationals are so strong. They bounce back. They're amazing.

But it still is an awful subject. And just like I said last year when dear, sweet baby Manesseh died, all I can do when I think about it is beg Jesus to come back now and take away all the pain...

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