Coffee, coffee everywhere but not a drop to drink… Now really, all I wanted was a cup of coffee. I had the beans and I had the coffee grinder, but no coffee maker.
Let me back-up to the beginning of the story. When I came to Liberia this time I knew that I was going to have to move from house #2 to a duplex on campus. No big deal, but I told them I needed a coffee maker. I had an old trusted white one in house #2 that looked terrible but made pretty good coffee. I knew that coffee makers could be scarce, but I had no room to bring one over with me. However, I was all prepared for an emergence, because I had a small French press coffee pot stashed away in my belongings at ABCU.
Ahhh, I walked in to the duplex and there set a brand new coffee maker. It had been three days of traveling since I had a decent cup of coffee (yes, I am a coffee snob, all I need is a cup or so, but I want it to be a good cup of coffee).
The next morning I ground my coffee beans, poured in the water and went to get dressed while the coffee was brewing. A few minutes later I walked back to the kitchen to get a cup, the only problem there was no coffee – the coffee maker didn’t work. Oh well I thought, I will go dig out my French press, but it was missing!!! Later on that morning I talked to the lady who takes care of housing, and she said no one was using the coffee maker in house #1. We walked over to get it, but it didn’t work either. Next, she told me I could take the one in the conference room to use. I hastily went over to the conference room to retrieve the coffee maker and carried it back to my duplex in the drizzling rain. I immediately plugged it in to make sure that it would work and to my dismay it also was broken.
By this time I was about in tears and whining big time. I thought is it too much to ask for a cup of coffee? After all I had carried my coffee beans and grinder clear across the ocean, it seemed to me that I should be able to have a cup of coffee without all of this hassle.
The next day, I went to two other houses seeing if anyone had an extra coffee maker. Everyone said no and they weren’t about to give up their coffee makers, because they know how hard it is to obtain these items. Then one of my friends on campus told me his sister had given him a coffee cup that actually had a French press built inside of it. He gave me his French press pot and used his special cup. Finally, life had been restored to normal.
During this whole process as I was looking for a coffee maker and whining to myself and to anyone else that would listen, I kept hearing this little voice in my head say, “Really Vicki, you consider not having a coffee maker a hardship? Is it all that important? Isn’t it just a minor inconvenience? Look around you and you will see real hardship.”
As God has a way of doing, He continued to remind me of this through out the week. A couple of days later at a faculty get together, our new president had some of the staff tell their stories. One of the faculty members talked about what it was like during the war as his family ran from country-to-country to try to stay safe. At the beginning of the war his baby girl died of pneumonia because they couldn’t get her treatment. As he talked, the thought flashed through my conscience, “Really Vicki, you consider not having a coffee maker that important and a hardship? “
That same week I learned that some of my graduates from last year were having a hard time finding a teaching job. People were jealous that they had a bachelor’s degree and were afraid that they would take their jobs away from them. One student in particularly was desperately looking for a job so that he could provide for his family. And once again the little niggling voice, which had now become my constant companion, whispered, “Really Vicki, you consider not having a coffee maker that important and a hardship? “
The next day a student told me that his pregnant wife was in the hospital with malaria. Not only were they concerned for her, but also the baby. As usual the hospital care was subpar (that is stating it nicely). He had to find someone with the same blood type so she could get a pint of blood. A friend matched and donated the blood. The hospital staff dismissed his wife from the hospital without giving her the infusion. Why, because a nurse could sell the blood to someone else for money. The student had to go back and complain to the doctor to make sure that his wife received the infusion. She was given the blood, but an unspoken concern still hangs in the air; the next time they go the hospital will they be ignored and/or receive even worse care because he complained. As ““Really Vicki, you consider not having a coffee maker that important and a hardship?“ floated through my head, my next thought was, “Okay I know I was wrong, but is it really so bad that I wanted a cup of coffee?”
I know the answer to that question. It is not so bad that I wanted a cup of coffee and was disappointed that I didn’t have one. But, my attitude and what I thought was important was definitely a problem, and the whining and sniveling about not having coffee was not exactly my most attractive moment.
Today, as I was reading my bible, I turned to Lamentations 3: 22-24, which speaks to God’s mercies in our lives and his faithfulness. I knew that Jeremiah had written this book as he lamented over the destruction of Jerusalem. I wanted to read a bit more about the writing of Lamentations so I picked up The Soul Care Bible, which has an overview at the beginning of each book. I immediately paused as I read the opening sentences of the overview. It stated, “What causes us to weep, to cry, to shed great tears of sadness? We do well to pay attention whenever we find out eyes filling with tears, for those emotional moments reveal much about what we value, what’s important to us.
Well, I can’t say that I shed great tears of sadness over not having a coffee maker, but I did spend a lot of emotional and physical energy on trying to find one. As I read the overview I asked myself, “How much emotional and physical energy did I expend the last couple of days over a lost soul or the needs of the people around me? If someone had been following me around what would they have said that I valued most in life?” How sad, they probably would have reported that it was a cup of coffee.
Once again, God has reminded me that as I live in this fallen world that my attitude and values often help contribute to the problems instead of helping to resolve them.
As I word process this blog, I want you to know that I now have both my French press, my husband had loaned it to someone, and a repaired coffee maker. I also am working on my attitude and what I value as important. However, I must admit I am enjoying my coffee.
What is a Think Through? it is an idiom that conveys the meaning of carefully considering possibilities and outcomes of a situation
Today’s Think Through:
From your perspective what is a hardship? Does the definition of true hardship vary from person to person?