I've been thinking about this a lot lately...
You're starving. Literally. You've lived your whole life with a physical hunger that never came close to being filled. You know God; you met Him once when some missionaries came through and told your family about Jesus. And you believe. You really believe.
But your stomach still cramps. Your bones still threaten to rip through the thin sheet of your flesh.
One day a group of people roll into your desert in a big white school bus. You've seen buses pass through the desert before. It's mostly meaningless. But then, this bus stops. The passengers walk down the steps of the bus and put some stakes into the ground, put a tarp over your heads, create some shade. They build a fire, they put clean water (where does it even come from? a plastic barrel!) into a big metal pot and they stir...
Smells creep into your nostrils. Your heart rate increases. You feel a lump in your throat. You feel the shaking that comes from crying, but you're too dehydrated to even produce tears. Your stomach aches and longs for the food. Will there be enough?
When the food is finally done (it took so long!), you shove it into your mouth with your hands, thanking God for every bite. You feel so many emotions all at once. You step out from under the shade of the tarp to stare at the sky and rub the tip of your toes in the ground to make sure you are still on earth, because you can't believe how beautiful this moment is.
Your belly fills up so quickly but you shovel in more, until you can barely move. You drink water. It tastes so strange to your lips, not like the murky water that you haul in on your back from the valleys whenever it happens to rain. This is perfect.
And then, as quickly as they came, the white people in their white bus vanish. You go to look at the ground where they put the stakes that held up the tarp. You're checking for holes in the ground to make sure it really happened. There are holes. You even see an oil stain on the ground and you bend down to smell it. It smells like the meat. You press your face to the sand, crying. The only proof that they were really here are the holes in the ground, this oil stain, and the tears you can actually cry now.
There's a word in your language for irony; you mouth it over and over again, as you wrestle with fear and anger and sadness. But mostly despair. They fed you just enough to enable you to cry.
Even though you know better, you open your lips through the sobs and press your tongue to the sand where the oil has saturated it. There is barely any taste to it. Nothing good. You're left with a tongue covered in dirt. And no water to wash it away.
How often do you think about that day? How often do you replay the moment that you first heard the engine of the bus and saw the sand swirling behind it as it arrived? You can barely even recall the texture of food on your tongue, but the memory of hope overwhelms you. Did you dream it?
Do you say to your family, "Remember when we ate a meal? That was incredible!" Or is it too painful to talk about?
Do your days get lost in the thought, "Will I ever eat like that again?"
Do you pray for death? Do you hold out hope for more food? Or do you have to forget it in order to stay sane? How often do you look to the horizon?