Nomads live in deserts, ride camels or horses and do not have a fixed address. They know where to find water and can navigate over vast areas of sand dunes and barren land. But I’m not talking about those kind of nomads.

I’m talking about Cultural nomads — a cool name for missionaries.

Missionaries often do not have a fixed address, they ride in off-road vehicles, use crazy public transport and sometimes live in scary places. They have to navigate their way through mazes of different customs, learn how to become friends with loneliness, enjoy three-day wedding ceremonies and be able to sleep anywhere.

Psalm 39:12, Hear my prayer O Lord and give ear to my cry. Do not be silent at my tears, for I am a stranger with you, a sojourner like all my fathers.

Cultural nomads have to be flexible and have a sense of humor. Without those they are in big trouble.

When we moved to the Iso people, we had to go through the complications of importing our car, using a language we hardly knew yet. Luckily we had that sense of humor, we smiled a lot, used a dictionary, and eventually got our car registration papers. The thing was just that there was no shop to have registration plates made. Yes, really. So we found a guy with a workshop in the middle of a mud-hut village, and he cut two plates out of steel for us. It weighed a ton! Then we found another guy who painted them black, and another who painted the registration number in white — it looked very hand-made, which it was. Done! Right? No! The minor officials made a mistake — they gave us the wrong registration number! And the main official was on his way to do the final inspection. What to do? All I had was some typist’s correction fluid, called Tippex. A small bottle with an even smaller brush. But I changed those number plates in no time. Those Tippexed letters held their own until we sold the car ten years later!

The Iso people live in a country where there wasn’t  a single mosquito — they were all married and had thousands of little mozzy kids. That’s a joke. We would always get stacks of supplies of antibiotic creams and ointments when visiting our home country, to relieve itching mosquito and other insect bites. Always ran out of supplies within a few months. The biting was relentless. So was the itching. What to do? Rub the bites with toothpaste — what a relief! Yes, it really worked! And, you could use your toothpasted arm hairs to get a good floss in too.  Nah, not really!!

The next hack should NOT be tried anywhere by anyone — it is a special hack for special pirate nomads. My hubby had a false front tooth since he was a kid. This tooth started to become loose while we lived in Iso land. It would fall out at the most inconvenient moments. The closest dentist was two days’ drive away in a neighboring country. Wasn’t an option. Didn’t want him to swallow the tooth while sleeping. And without it he looked like a pirate. Scared the neighbors away. His dentist friend in yet another country told him to simply glue it back — with Super Glue! He assured us that we didn’t need a specific brand of Super Glue, the normal type would do just fine. Did this dentist know that Super Glue’s base contains cyanide? And that sniffing the fumes is toxic? Perhaps he sniffed some before he gave us this advice.

Got to be flexible, right? Oh, I forgot to mention — cultural nomads also have to be brave.

It was a miracle that we found some Super Glue in the market. I was the designated tooth gluer, and glued the tooth back with somewhat shaking hands. Was quite proud of myself that I didn’t glue my hubby’s lip to his gum as well. When we visited our home country months later, he went to the dentist to have it fixed properly. Took the dentist a long time to get that tooth out.

These are just a few of the hacks we learned. Will tell you another time of the amazing things you can do with cable ties and how to bake bread using peanut skins instead of bran. Strangely, when we hacked our way through Iso land, it was funny and almost like a badge of honor — talking to other cultural nomads to see whose hacks were the biggest, most dangerous or weirdest.

Looking back now I rather have a sense of awe that God went before us, with us, carrying us, and yes, laughing with us too.

Reflection

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 32:7-8 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.