Missionary Rain
August 1988

“Missionary Rain,” New Era, Aug. 1988, 26

Missionary Rain

It’s gray and foggy;

The trees are bare except for a few

soggy dead leaves;

The houses are cold and dark;

I sniffle and sneeze;

I try to understand the flying foreign words;

I nod my head and smile

as though all were very plain,

but I know my eyes reveal utter confusion;

I blow my nose again;

I try to speak,

but my tongue betrays me;

I try to teach—

Not even I understand what I’m saying;

The children laugh at my accent

and ask me a million questions;

I nod and smile;

My hair is frizzy from the humidity;

I wear the same sweater and skirt every day

because none of my other clothing keeps me


There is mildew on our bedroom walls;

I have a stomachache

from heaping helpings of strange foods

whose taste is foreshadowed by stranger odor;

I nearly gag, and swallow without chewing;

When the Mamita asks me how I like it,

I nod and smile;

I see concrete and mud;

It’s winter—the rainy season;

The wind-driven rain ignores

coat, and boots, and umbrella;

There is water everywhere—in my boots, in my


and I’m afraid the water in my eyes

is about to spill over my cheeks

and tell my yearning for home, for milk,

for English;

Though miles separate my father and me

his voice comes clearly to mind

where his teachings well embedded live;

My heart is warmed and I find courage

drawing strength from his strength:

“Remember that in order for the grass to be green,

there has to be rain as well as sunshine.”

Peering through the pour

I see that the grass really is green;

My companion asks me how I like the rain;

I straighten my shoulders,

nod and smile,

and say a little prayer of thanks

for a wise father who taught me about the rain.

Photo by Harold Nichols

Photo by Earl Malmrose

Photo by Thierry J. N. Cabanne