Around the corner of the row of shops she came, about 5 foot 2, eyes NOT blue, worn flip flops on her feet to match her well used cloth she wore around her waste. It was “Grandma,” who spent Tuesday with me taking her granddaughter to the hospital. I greeted her as I struggled to lug my suitcase over the threshold of our compound gate, but received not smile. I greeted her with several Hausa greetings, and explained I was going to the road to get into a keke (motorized 3 wheeled tryicycle) to take me to the next junction. We started walking together, me, chatty, round, tall and breathless with grandma, somber, silent, short, and round. I’m sure we were quite a sight. Then she commanded me, “Come.” I walked to her, and she took hold of my suitcase, saying “Help me put it on my head.”
The process of me going to the Netherlands this week has been one faith leap to another, so when Zach rushed out of the house forgetting the extra bag I’d asked him to carry, it was a simple statement of faith when I said, “Well, God, you’ve done this so far, you will provide someone to help me carry this load.” As I approached the gate and opened it, I looked for a strong burly guy who could sweep my suitcase up and mosey down the street with it, but Grandma was there. The guy I would have asked, but Grandma was out of the question.
None the less, down the short-cut we walked together, a path that, even for me in my Chocos I tread carefully to avoid dog poo, broken glass, big rocks jutting up in the middle of the well worn path, and puddles of…something. With one hand freely swung at her side and the other holding a pair of old corduroy trousers and some string, she balanced my 50 pound suitcase nonchalantly on her head. I asked her where she was going, and she replied in Hausa, “to cut firewood.” As she set my suitcase down on the newly formed sidewalk by the busy road, I wanted to hug her. I put one arm around her shoulder, and said thank you, and she emotionlessly said, “See you later,” and walked away. I was very humbled, but even more deeply moved by her expressionless expression of love. I don’t know how many people have hugged Grandma, who was born in our neighborhood when it was a village and has watched the city of Jos grow up around her home. I don’t know how many people thank her profusely for cutting their firewood, cooking them food, and providing shelter, but I could tell she didn’t expect a thank you. She just did what needed to be done, as she has probably done all her life.
I think I often look for likely people to do the work that needs to be done, those “qualified”. God found Grandma to be the right person for the job, and I needed her at that moment. I guess I have to learn to expect God to answer, but not put qualifications on what that answer should look like because…Grandma carried my suitcase.