Monday, November 18, 2013 - Kabul, Afghanistan
Flying from Dubai into Kabul is jarring. One city, an oasis in the desert...the epitome of wealth, modernity and opulence. The other, the polar opposite...a dust-covered throwback to a hard time pre-dating the gas engine and indoor plumbing.
As we descended over the jagged, snow covered, ridges of the Hindu Kush Mountains, Kabul came into view. First, the sight of thousands of small brick and mud homes...the perimeter of each home encased by a mud and brick privacy wall. Huge industrial lots filled with cargo containers stacked upon cargo containers. Then, as the jet engines revved and the landing gear dropped, we could see, sitting in a haloed cloud of dust and exhaust fumes, the center of Kabul.
And it was beautiful.
Like everyone else I know who has visited Kabul, I fell in love with this place when I came here a year ago in April with a team of men from Flatirons. It is a noisy, frenetic, busy place clogged with trucks and cars and boys on bicycles. The streets are lined with men in shop doorways...and women covered in burkas...and children running, dodging the traffic...and soldiers at checkpoints. As we dart back and forth through the (insanely hard to describe) rush hour traffic we can see stores and shops and businesses that seem to repeat themselves again and again: a produce stand, a naan bakery, a butcher, a rug dealer, a parts shop, a produce stand, a butcher, a naan bakery...and so on.
We were warmly greeted at the guest house (our home for the next several days) by our friends--the staff from our partner, based in Kabul. It was a time (for some of us) to get reacquainted with our old friends...and a time (for others) to meet these amazing people and start relationships that with leave indelible marks on their hearts and souls...the same way our hearts have been marked.
Then we ate...and we ate...and we ate because they feed us (and treat us) like kings here.
After a sound night's sleep, we spent the morning in discussion, and debrief, and in devotion. We're going to look at the life of Abraham on this trip--a man called "God's Friend" and a main character in the story of the three main religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Then, we ate...again before heading out to the little village of Barek Aub, a community of displaced Afghans that Flatirons has been trying to support and help for over 7 years. As we made the hour drive from Kabul to Barek Aub, I was struck by the amount of dust everywhere. It hung in the air all the way from Kabul out to the tiny community of Barek Aub.
Dust. Dust everywhere, reminding me of what the world was like when Jesus walked it. It had to be worse back then. Walking everywhere. Heads, beards, feet...covered in dust and dirt. Feet that needed to be washed...by a Savior...a lesson to be learned in what's expected as a follower of Him.
There's an old Jewish saying that goes like this, "May you be covered by the dust of your rabbi." Meaning this, may you be so closely connected and involved in the life and work of your rabbi that you are completely covered in his dust. I know that each of us on this trip wants to be as closely connected as possible to our rabbi and Savior, Jesus. Walking through Barek Aub, it's so evident that the followers of Jesus who call themselves Flatirons Community Church have had a great impact on the lives of these Afghans collected on the side of this mountain. The well. The school. The clinic. All evidence of our faith...lived out through generous giving.
But the thing that keeps gnawing at me...standing on the dusty streets of Barek Aub, driving the dusty Afghan roads, and sitting here...staring out the dust covered windows of the guest house is this: Am I covered by dust too?
And the answer hurts.
I wish I could say that the dust of Jesus covers me, but the truth is, most of the time, I'm covered in my own dust--dirt from my own selfish interests and self pursuits...more interested in my own comfort, than my character...which can only be honed by closely following Jesus.
I hope and pray that when we come home from this beautiful, dirty, dusty land...and once we've washed the dust of Afghanistan from our clothes...that each of us remains dusty and dirty...
...and that we're completely covered in the dust of our Rabbi.