Yesterday my housemate and I bought a couch. It is the retro-ugliest but most comfortable couch I have sat on in Mozambique. A couch is not a significant thing in many parts of the world. But to me its significance is beyond what I can probably describe in words.
When Marina and I moved into this apartment, we loved everything, absolutely everything about it except the furniture. It’s spacious, light, has a veranda, a huge kitchen, two bathrooms, and warm showers with better water pressure than anywhere I’ve showered in Mozambique or the US for that matter. My bed is more comfortable than any bed I’ve ever owned, but we were stuck with an extremely small and uncomfortable wicker couch that came with the apartment. Decent furniture is very expensive here because it’s all imported. Locally-made furniture is all very uncomfortable. I bought camp chairs as a temporary solution until someone left and we could buy their furniture. Unfortunately, everyone we’ve known who has left had lived in already-furnished apartments.
For the last several weeks I’ve been really tired – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I need a break. I’ve been feeling the need to get back to the States and just rest. Every time I think of resting in the States, I envision myself lying on a couch (because everyone in America has a couch that can be laid on) for a week, not really talking to anyone, not answering lots of questions about Mozambique, not being “the missionary home from Africa”. Sometimes I see myself reading books, sometimes I’m just staring at the ceiling. And then at the end of the day I get up and cook dinner for whoever I’m staying with and feel refreshed to visit with them when they come home from work.
Why a couch? Because after living in an apartment with no comfortable furniture for a year, always kind of putzing around because I know that whatever I sit on will make me want to get up after just a little while, and also knowing no one else here with comfortable furniture, a couch to me is the ultimate symbol of rest and relaxation. When my friends and I reminisce about what we miss or look forward to in our home countries, the list usually goes something like this: sleeping under a duvet, feeling free to go out after dark, not being constantly aware of or worried about our belongings, and sitting on a big comfy couch.
So I’ve been having this strong desire to lie on a couch. At the same time, I’ve lately been spontaneously praying for us to know when someone is leaving and selling furniture so that we can buy it. Which is a pretty ridiculous prayer considering I’m leaving in a month or two. But it pops into my head.
Two days ago Lyndsay and I walked over to Shoprite to quickly grab a couple things. I bumped into a missionary couple I know only from bumping into them around town. It turns out they’re leaving in a month and are selling a living room set. So yesterday we went to look at it, sat in it, paid for it, and took the couch home. (We’ll pick up the loveseat and chair in a month when they leave.)
Sitting on that couch last night, eating a delicious meal and watching a movie with friends (all three of us and the cats comfortably spread across the cushions) not only felt amazingly luxurious but also therapeutic.
Perhaps it’s just a piece of furniture, but I can’t help wonder if God is telling me I can rest here. The timing of finding this couch seems all wrong on one hand, but so right on the other.