a missionary in a library

photo by Natasha Metzlerby Jennifer Straw

I feel wealthy when I walk into the library. To think that I have the privilege to use these books, that I can meander and pull whatever I want off the shelf, that I have access to so many thousand of books through this building. Makes me feel like a naughty child with its hand in the cookie jar, hoping not to get caught by the proverbial mother.

I loved my Kindle. And definitely plan to use put such technology to use again when I am back in the “bush.” But when one has access to real books with paper pages, nothing is an appropriate substitute.

It seems a crime to go to the library without walking up and down aisles, pulling random books off the shelf, weighing the wealth of the
place. To only check out twenty books when I am allowed fifty is an even worse crime. But somehow I can’t seem to get through even those twenty books without renewing them at least once, so fifty books is probably not a practical idea.

Some days I meander the kids’ section, pulling picture books and chapter books. Who knew there were so many entertaining picture books (check out Two Bad Ants)? After a trip through the kids’ aisles I end up lugging a very heavy, canvas bag back to my car. After all, one can read numerous kids’ books in the time it takes to read a typical-length novel.

But even with my excursions into the kids’ section and my inability to read fifty books over a three week stretch, I’m happily surging through my “to read” list. That list I compiled when halfway around the world from this library, when I was waiting for my Kindle arrive, when having access to fifty books at a time seemed like luxury.

photo by Natasha MetzlerIt still seems like luxury. Almost an Anne-Shirley-pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moment. Because it is an incredible contrast between my world in Mozambique, where there the nearest bookstore was a five hour drive away, where even that bookstore only stocked Portuguese material, and where my neighbors had never heard of such a thing as a library. I wonder what they would say if they could
see the miles of books winding through this huge building?

It is an excellent reminder to me that even though I desperately miss my Mozambican friends, there are certain blessings to being in Oregon. And one of them is the privilege to read piles of the best kind of entertainment imaginable. And after each library jaunt I sit on my couch, a picture book in my lap, a mound of unread adventures beside me, and delight in the moment.

Jennifer Straw recently spent two years teaching missionary kids in Africa.  Right now she’s in the states to get her bachelor’s degree, counting the days until she returns to Africa.

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conversations between sisters in Christ

  1. says

    Oh, I loved this post, thank you for sharing! :) It reminds me of many happy days spent in the library when I was little. Libraries and bookshops are wonderful places!

  2. says

    Oh, how well I remember the day when I found a pile of books in the bottom of a box six months into living on the mission field. I danced around the room and almost cried. My husband said, “You do know you have a problem, right? Like an addiction?”