After the initial “booty” giggle, the heat is the first thing that pops into people’s minds when you mention the word Djibouti. It’s one of the hottest inhabited countries on the planet. We’re talking your-fingers-can-raisin-from-sweat hot.
I hate that kind of heat. It’s not just that I am a sweaty mess with sweat-soaked hair in that kind of heat; it’s that it’s hard for me to feel like myself in that kind of day-in-and-day-out heat.
I am a Midwest-American girl built for Scandinavia. I feel most alive when a little chilled. I breathe deeper and have an inner sense of vigor when it’s cold enough to want a hot drink in my hands or sit near the bonfire. Give me a “boots and jeans” crisp day with the tip of my nose just barely cold, or take me to the apple orchard for a hayride. It’s my happy place.
I never felt like that in Djibouti, not for one short desert moment. It cools from the 100s to the 80s with a slight warm breeze on a “winter” day. But c’mon, for this autumn-loving Midwest girl, that’s still summer hot.
Living in Djibouti isn’t just an adventure for me. It isn’t just about the challenge or even mostly about the unreached Muslims. For me, it’s about the communion with Jesus. It’s about knowing Him better as much as it’s about making Him known. Jesus, who left His heaven-home and came; my Lord, who spent His days inviting sinners into His odd life to “come and see.” He spent His hours on this planet redefining the kingdom of God to the disciples who walked near Him. He is my Lord, who suffered and poured himself out like an offering.
Jesus crossed culture to come and flesh out the Kingdom for me and for us. He left heaven behind. That’s a further leap than I would ever make!
I like to sit in that thought for some time, that heaven was home to Jesus. He led by example. He stepped from perfection into skin, from heaven into a land of sinners, into discomfort, into misunderstandings, into the Middle East.
After the commission, Jesus gets our attention. “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end.” I love this! More than I hate the heat, I love this reality. Yes, He did it perfectly. He did it beautifully. He did it right in the middle of mistreatment, suffering, and sinners. He led the way for me to go where I am not known and not comfortable. He led the way for me to invite those unlike me to come and discover the kingdom of God. But best of all, He promised to be with me every step of the way, around every unexpected corner, even to the ends of the earth.
Even in boiling Djibouti.