I was walking back from the Chief’s palace* one day because I wanted to see what it is like to walk down that road during the dry season. During the dry season everything that was mud turns to dirt. It kills me that there is no middle ground. You are either walking in mud or in the middle of a dust-storm.

Most of the school year falls during the dry season, so kids walk many kilometers to get to school in this dust-storm. In my own way, it was trying to ‘walk in their shoes’. On the way I found out that walking in the middle of a dust-storm isn’t easy, that you end up a few shades darker (redder really since the dust is red in the West province), and it is easy to get sick from just breathing in all of the dirt flying in your face from the unpaved roads.

As I was walking I came up to an old man who was walking with about a dozen blocks of wood on his head. He was a pretty small old man, but as I walked passed him, he had his shirt unbuttoned and he had a better body than I will ever have.

Still, I could see he was sweating and I asked him if I could carry the wood for a little while. He helped me place the wood on my head and which needless to say was the heaviest thing I’ve ever had on my head, and I started walking.

I asked him about his life, and he is single, lives alone and had already walked about 10 kilometers with the wood on his head. For a living he had a field, like most everyone else, which he ate from. After about a kilometer we were almost to the Carrefour, which is where I live. Since it’s my neighborhood, people started recognizing me and waving and laughing at the crazy American carrying wood on his head. If this embarrassed me, it wasn’t as much as it embarrassed the old man, because he asked me to let him have his wood, and he could make it the rest of the way home on his own. I don’t know why it was embarrassing for him for me to carry his wood, but it’s a good thing, cause my neck is still a little sore from carrying it.

On the way, a lady stopped me to tell me Rookie, the guy who cleans my house, had some kind of accident and fell and hurt his arm pretty bad. The first thing I thought was, ‘Who’s supposed to clean my house tomorrow*?!’

After thinking about it and thinking WWAD*, I went home got a couple of pain killers and went to his house to pay him a visit and wish him to get better. He was of course very appreciative that I went to say hi and assured me he would be back to work next week.

After, I went down to the Hotel to watch the final to the African Cup, Cameroun vs Egypt (which Cameroun lost 4-2) and then went home, feeling pretty good about myself because I felt like the last few hours I had done a good job trying to be selfless and think about others.

If anyone wants to read more about being selfless and read a book that has changed my life (only two books that I’ve read have ever changed my life, the other is Mere Christianity), read Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.

*Palace is a relative term. I lived in a house bigger than his in Plano with 5 other people, and there were still less people living there than at the palace. He does have 52 kids though.

*Rookie comes to my house once a week and does my laundry and cleans my house. I’m all for being integrated and living like an African, but cleaning clothes and dishes without running water is NOT easy.

*WWAD: What Would an African Do

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