Cockroach Coffee By Gene Kummerer
After my grandparents sold their farm in Pennsylvania they volunteered for several years with a mission organization in the southern part of Burkina Faso. This was the same West African country where my parents were stationed. My grandparents’ station was only a few hundred miles’ distance from my parents but the drive, over minimally maintained dirt roads, took a full two days. My parents lived in the capital city, Ouagadougou and the name of my grandparents’ village was Gaoua. They were staying in a missionary house whose normal occupants were on furlough (on leave back in the USA) so the house had stood empty for a while. The house was fully furnished with beds, tables, chairs, dishes, but everything was a little dusty from
the fine harmattan dust that blew down from the Sahara desert. When we would visit them in Gaoua, every morning my grandmother, we called her mummum, would get up early and bake fresh bread. Right around morning coffee break time the house would be filled with the lovely smell of baking bread and Mum-mum would take it out of the oven just in time for morning coffee break. On our first morning there, Mum-mum baked bread and heated water to make instant coffee (that was the only kind we had). But because there were so many people she asked me to climb on a chair and reach down the big tea kettle from the top shelf in the kitchen. It was a bit grimy from not being used in a while so she washed it out well with hot soapy water, rinsed it, filled it with water and heated the water for coffee. Around 10:30 am we sat down at the dining room table for midContinued on next page
morning coffee. Mummum passed around the instant coffee and every one spooned some into their cups, including the kids—special treat with Mum-mum’s fresh bread. My dad made his like he usually did—lots of milk and sugar, just like me. Mom liked her coffee black as did Mum-mum and Poppop. My first taste of coffee was odd, a bit musty and dank, like a moist, moldy basement or dungeon. I continued dunking my fresh-baked jelly bread in it though because there is not much that beats jelly bread dipped in coffee. I remember Dad just talking away, draining his cup. Mum-mum, who was bustling around making sure everyone got served, finally sat down and began drinking her coffee. As soon as she took her first taste she said, “The coffee tastes funny.” Dad said, “It tastes fine to me.”
Mom, who had been sitting quietly, not drinking her coffee after her first taste, said, “I wonder what it is.” I was sitting beside the tea kettle so I looked inside the main bowl of the kettle, saw nothing out of the ordinary, just hot water and the normal strainer holes leading into the spout. Not one to easily give up on a mystery, I kept exploring. Looking down the spout of the kettle I saw the very ends of some fine wirelike protrusions poking out deep in the inside curve of the spout. I spoke up, “Hey, I think I see something”. Taking my dad’s pen I began poking in the spout and sure enough there was something in the spout. To everyone’s horror I shortly pulled out of the spout, the very same spout that Mum-mum had poured everyone’s coffee, an enormous
cockroach. Mummum was mortified. Mom said, “I thought I recognized that taste.” I asked her, “Have you tasted cockroach before?” She responded, “No, but it tastes like how cockroaches smell.” Thoroughly grossed out, Mum-mum, put an open soup pot on the stove (no more spouts for her), heated up more water, and we all drank regular coffee while talking and laughing hilariously about “cockroach coffee” and telling other gross Africa stories.
Last summer, I
God. I don't really know why, but I just didn't like Him. It took a while and a lot of pain, but I finally made up with Him. After that incident, I felt I could never be mad at Him again. I had other little conflicts, but I never "disliked" Him again. Then, a couple months ago, I started getting restless. I couldn't find anything interesting in the Bible, so I started reading Christian books. I started off with "A Young Woman after God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George. I loved it, but it wasn't fulfilling enough. I read a couple of small books, but they didn't help either. So then I switched to "Authentic Beauty" by Leslie Ludy. I found it amazing! I easily related to the suffering that she wrote about and it was so helpful. But then it got hard. I got to a series of chapters about making a clean and
wholesome inner sanctuary where I can meet with and praise God. It talked about confessing to addictions (internet, attention, etc...). That part was a little tough, but I got through it within a couple of days. Next, it talked about getting rid of the trash in your life. I kept putting it off. Finally I started making a list of things that I thought I should apologize for. The problem was that every
time that I would say sorry for one thing, at least one more sin would come to my mind. It was like an unending
told me that God wouldn't have wanted me to go through all of this pain and horror and to never get anywhere. She said that I was already
terror. It made me think
forgiven and that there was
that I was a bad child that no one should love or forgive. I felt worthless and depressed; I had this huge list of sins that I needed to apologize for, and it was ever growing. Every night I
nothing I could do to make my self worthy of God's love, not even apologizing.
â€œ...and God healed me.â€? would sit down and add a couple of new problems to the list, and then I would just start bawling. The worst thing was that I have a huge pride issue, so it was very hard for me to apologize to someone for a wrong doing. Because of this, I apologized mostly over Facebook. One day I talked to my mom about it, and she
After that talk, I felt much better, but my pride still kept me from getting rid of anything. Even after all that help, I just broke down one day on the steps. After being sat down and calmed down, my mom told me that I should just stop. She insisted that this was not healthy mentally, physically or spiritually for me and that me getting sick or depressed was the last thing that God wanted. As I climbed into bed that night, my mom presented me with a gift she had been saving for my baptism; a new NIV Bible. After that night, I started feeling better. The new Bible made "not so interesting" stories become worth reading, and God healed me. The message behind this story isn't to discourage you from apologizing for wrong doings, but to show you that you're forgiven and that you can't change that. The truth is that I still feel guilty and get pricks about a couple sins, but I know that there's nothing that I can do to make up for all my sins, and that thought brings me
Bible Verses on…
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.” –Psalm 28:7
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6
“’But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’” –Jeremiah 17:7-8
“Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.” -Proverbs 11:28
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” –Isaiah 26:3-4
“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” -Psalm 62:8
Light in the Darkness
By Courtney R.
“Sorry.” Meor said as he collided with an elderly lady on the crowded sidewalk. He kept on walking, keeping his eyes down. He turned up the volume of his mp3 player to block out the loud noises surrounding him and held his backpack close to make sure nothing got stolen, not that he really owned anything that was worth stealing, but the street beggars didnʼt know that. After he had walked a few blocks he turned down an alley and hopped over the concrete wall that stood at the end of the road. On the other side of the wall was another alley that ran behind a row of shops and apartments. He dropped his backpack
on the ground and silently ran across the alley and alongside the building in front of him. He kept in the shadows and quietly crept forward. He got closer to the front of the building where buckets of fruit sat in the blistering sun waiting to be sold. He crouched down and slowly extended his arm toward the enticing fruit when he heard a string of loud curses. He looked up to see the swarthy face of the shop owner. “I warned you about coming back here!” He lunged at Meor. Fear cursed through Meorʼs veins. He thrust his hand out and grabbed the ripest rambutans he saw and immediately
took off running back down the alley. He heard more angry threats. Beads of sweat trickled down his face. More shouts came from behind him; he ran faster. He snagged his backpack right before he made a flying leap back over the concrete wall. He made the jump with ease and kept running until he was sure the angry man was far behind.
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He walked a few more feet into a public park and sat under the shade of a tree and pulled out his fruit. He closed his eyes and pushed back his sweaty hair from his forehead and started to peel the tough, prickly skin of the fruit. He tossed it into the grass and scraped off the tender fruit with his teeth and felt refreshed as the sweet juice burst in his mouth. It had been worth the danger involved in getting them. After heʼd sat for a while he wearily stood up and started the long walk to the convenience store where he worked every afternoon. His hours were from 3 to 8, but he usually got there around 4:30; he figured it didnʼt really matter since it was his own family that owned the store and they couldnʼt fire him. He turned down the familiar street and stopped at the third shop on the right. He pushed
up the gray door covered in graffiti and unlocked the glass door that stood behind it. He turned the key and stepped inside the dim room making the little bells jingle over the doorway. A little girl sat in the middle of the floor. She was barefoot and had on pajamas with multiple holes in them. Her hair was greasy and hung loosely over her shoulders. She was playing on the floor with a worn out doll. When Meor came in her face lit up. “Meor!” She ran to greet him and put his arms around his waist. “Sofea, go clean up your things! Customers canʼt see you down here! What would Mother say if she saw you?” Meor chided her. The little girl ran to pick up her few things that lay scattered on the floor and hurried up the
flight of steps in the back of the shop that lead to their overhead apartment. Meor tossed his backpack in the corner and tidied up the small shop and sat in the folding chair behind the cashier. He pulled out his math book and got to working on the difficult problems. Before he knew it his mother was coming wearily through the door to take his shift. She smiled weakly at him and patted his cheek as she took her place behind the worn cashier. “Many customers today Meor?” “Yes, many Ibu!” He felt a twinge of guilt as he lied to her, but he hated to tell her that only two customers had come in all day. She was already so worn out and hearing about the lack of customers would only make her feel worse. She motioned that he Continued on next page
could leave. He scampered up the stairs where Sofea was setting the small plastic coffee table they used for dinner. Two plates that had been cracked and glued back together a million times sat on the table with small helpings of rice on them. Sofea poured them both a glass of water and they began to eat ravenously and the rice was gone all too soon. Sofea took the plates over to the tiny kitchen and rinsed them off with some water and dinner was over. Sofea sat on the floor playing with her doll while Meor sat nearby doing his homework. While he worked his thoughts returned to the dayʼs events. What stood out the most was Marissa and her harsh words. He felt the stinging effect of her words all over again as he replayed the scene in his head.
He had so desperately wanted to be friends with her. She was the only girl, or person, who was nice to him at school. There was something different about her, but he couldnʼt figure it out. Even though he didnʼt know what it was, he knew he wanted it. “Guess Iʼm not good enough for it; whatever it is.” He muttered to himself. Later that night Meor sat on the sofa asleep when he was awakened by a shriek. He bolted out of bed; it sounded like it had come from downstairs. He ran down the steps and saw his mother cowering in the corner and a large man standing over her. Anger flowed through Meor; it was his dad and he had no right to come there drunk and hurt his wife like that. “Stay away from her!” Meor shouted at him. It was a familiar routine and Meor knew how to trick him into leaving. But tonight his dad was more alert.
Meor edged toward the door hoping him to lure him outside. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Sofea watching from the top of the stairs, fear in her eyes. Meor grew angrier and struck his dad. The drunken man roared and dove at him, knocking him to the ground where he fell on glass from his dadʼs beer bottles. Everything grew fuzzy and darkness started to close in around Meor. It wasnʼt the first time his dad had knocked him out and he knew it wouldnʼt be the last. A small stream of blood trickled into his mouth as he breathed his final breaths before falling into unconsciousness, “I wish there was some way to escape.”
Read part 3 in the August issue
This photo screams Papua New Guinea (PNG) to me because the roads and highways of this country are full of potholes and mud! It doesn't help that we get tons of rain, which leads to landslides in the mountains. Those can block the roads for several days and make traveling nearly impossible. PNG has been called The Land of the Unexpected many times, and there are certainly lots of things that come up unexpected. This also showcases the culture because in PNG, there are different road rules. When cars get stuck in mud, water, etc., and there's a traffic jam, the PMV (Public Motorized Vehicle) drivers, and pretty much all the other Papua New Guinean drivers try to get as far ahead as they can. They will push their way into a spot that is just barely big enough for them. Driving in PNG is an adventure and it's connected the culture in a variety of interesting ways. -Jessica B. This photo also screams "PNG" to me because people who live on the coast and along rivers rely on canoes to get themselves from village to village to transport fruits, veggies, and artifacts to their homes and to the local markets. Canoes are an important method of transportation but they are also significant cultural items, and sometimes the people will decorate them as was done to the canoe in this photo. People enjoy the use of canoes that they make themselves. They are certainly very helpful for taking goods from place to place.
By Courtney R.
I walked into the small rectangular bathroom. The walls were covered in light blue tiles and the floor was shiny and clean. I had trouble getting the door to close, but finally it clicked shut. After washing my hands and fixing my hair I went to open the door. I turned the door knob to the left and pulled. The door didn't budge. This time I turned it to the right. It still didn't budge. I started the turn the handle left and right while pulling hard on the door. But it was useless. The door remained shut. I took a deep breath and stepped away from the door. I shook my hands and went back to the door. I slowly turned it to the left and heard a click. Maybe it was the lock turning! I pulled hard, but alas, the door remained shut. Thinking maybe the click I'd heard was the door locking, I turned the knob back to the right. I heard another click. I happily pulled on the door knob, anticipating walking out of the door back to my book. But the door didn't budge. I was truly stuck. I called out to my brother. He didn't respond. I called him several times before I got the muffled response that he was playing his psp and didn't really care that I was locked in the bathroom. Or if he did care he wasn't going to pause his game to come help me. Thankfully, I then heard my dadâ€™s voice on the other side of the door. I quickly explained what had happened and he tried to open the door from the outside. But nothing worked. He went to tell get some hotel staff and soon I heard someone come in the hotel room and start messing with the door. It sounded like the guy was doing everything but tearing the door down. I quickly smoothed my hair and stepped far away from the door, wanting to look nice and be out of the way when the man barged through the door. But no one came barging in the door. Instead I was told to open the window. Um, ok. I opened the window and the sweet scent of flowers rushes into the humid bathroom. It's a picturesque scene: purple flowers bloom below the window, framing the quaint white steps leading up to a white building surrounded by trees. It's then I notice two hotel staff right below me and a ladder being propped up against the wall. I lean over and pull back inside quickly, feeling a little awkward. I pace back and forth, fix my hair again, and peep back over the window. Someone has started climbing up the ladder. Before long a face pops up in the window and soon the rest of the face's body jumps through the window. I'm now staring at a young (handsome) Italian man with white capris, dark curly hair, and shining eyes. He smiles and says "ciao" in a deep voice. I smile back. He walks over to the door, jiggles the knob and then turns it. And....OF COURSE! the door swings open on his first try! I look at him and then back at the door. I can only come to one conclusion: he must have magical hands. I smile awkwardly and ask him how in the world he did that. He just laughs and says "I just turned the knob." ...yeah right. So did I buddy! Well, I learned my lesson and for the rest of our time I did not close that door!
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Published on Dec 1, 2012