January 06, 2011

"behind the scenes"

Our trip to a local orphanage this week doubled as this month's field trip.  We didn't get to hold any orphans, but we helped prepare the place to receive orphans in the near future.  My kids wanted to help paint, but they are still too little for that.  They spent the day kicking around a dirty soccer ball and eating Dutch butter cookies and climbing in and out of the laps of whichever cute young lady was taking a breather.

Today in class, as we filled out our field trip form, Bright complained about how little he was allowed to help at the orphanage.  I took the opportunity at that point to teach him a common idiomatic phrase.
"Bright," I said, "do you know what 'behind the scenes' means?"

This phrase could summarize my current human experience.  I am firmly planted behind the scenes, for at least the next 16 years.  We had a discussion panel last night in our apartment, during which the visiting group from Memphis asked us questions about our life and work here.  I was not on the panel.  If I had been, my answers would have been vastly different.
Q:  What is it like to learn a new language?
A:  I don't know.  I don't have time to learn anything beyond where to buy good brown sugar.
Q:  What is your role in the work?
A:  My role?  My nose is frequently 1 ft. from a pair of poopy buns and my hands are frequently 6 inches deep into a bowl of biscuit dough (though never subsequently, I can assure you).
Q:  Are your parents supportive?
A:  Yes and no.  They are proud of me, but they are not just missing my presence.  They are missing the childhoods of their grandchildren.  Theirs' is a sacrifice for which they should be recognized and applauded, but not envied.
Q:  How did you come to be here?
A:  My husband said, "Babe, I think we're moving to East Asia," to which I replied, "Let's go."
Am I a key player?  I know in my head that I am.  I know that my casseroles make those on the front lines a little happier.  Happiness makes them more effective.  Those who I serve are always very appreciative, too, which goes a long way in keeping me out of the pity party.  But sometimes, when I am sitting up in this apartment, looking out over the city that pulses with the busy lives of millions who have never heard the truth, my heart aches.  It just does.  It aches.  And I wonder, am I doing what my heart has felt pricked to do since I was a small child?

"Bright," I began, "the phrase 'behind the scenes' refers to the people who are not seen, and usually not heard, but who make it possible for those who are to do what they do."

A good lesson for him, and a good reminder for me.