I have a silver ring from Niger that my grandma gave me several years ago. She has never been to Niger. She lives in a small town in Iowa and volunteers at Hands Around the World, a shop, like 10,000 Villages, that sells handicrafts from developing countries and gives all the profits to the artisans. It’s a great little shop. One time – I don’t remember the occasion – my grandma told me to pick something out in the store. I really liked the uniqueness of the ring from Niger.
I’ve always loved the ring but never wore it regularly until I came to Moz. Now it’s always on my left hand ring finger. I didn’t intend for it to look like an engagement or wedding band; it’s simply most comfortable on that finger. (But it does come in handy sometimes in this culture to pretend I’m married.)
Yesterday afternoon, as I started making salt dough for Sunday school, I took the ring off and placed it in the kitchen windowsill. Naturally, I forgot about it until I was on my way to work this morning. I thought about calling Odete, our housekeeper, to ask her to put it in my room, but figured it was just as safe in the windowsill as in my room.
This afternoon when I returned from work, the ring was no longer in the windowsill. Or in my room. Or anywhere else. I called Odete and asked if she had seen it. She often puts things away in strange places. She hadn’t seen it. I looked some more then called to see if anyone else had been in the apartment when she was here. No one had.
I didn’t want to blame her because it seemed so unlike her, but recent experiences with theft and also surrounded by a cultural acceptability of lying, have left me feeling like I can’t trust anyone here. She was the only one in the apartment. The ring was gone. I couldn’t help but feel some accusation toward her.
My housemate reminded me that there had been a big mess on the kitchen counter, beneath the windowsill, and perhaps Odete had wiped the windowsill down and accidentally threw the ring out with the mess from the counter. The thought of the ring in the dumpster felt more hopeless than if someone had stolen it.
A couple hours later, our doorbell rang. Odete stood in the dark hallway. She explained that she had been worrying about the ring since I called. She remembered seeing something on the windowsill (which come to think of it, doesn’t look anything like a ring here because no one wears silver) but couldn’t remember what happened to it. She was thinking and thinking and thought she must have wiped it off and it had gotten in the trash. Then she told her son that they needed to go to the dumpster and find the box and bags they had thrown away and look through them to find the ring. On the way over she thought it might have gotten into the last bag that was still in the rubbish bin in the kitchen. Her son told her they needed to come upstairs and check. So she did. After she explained this to us, she looked through the bag in the bin, and there was the ring! Amazing!
Amazing that it would actually be there, instead of in the dumpster. Amazing that she was concerned enough about it to ponder what happened and be willing to go through the dumpster. Amazing that it came to mind tonight and not tomorrow after she already took out the trash. But mostly amazing how God can humble me.