“This will be great!” I thought happily as I watched my mom struggle to open the can on the curvy road. Black beans are my favorite type of legume and the thought of eating a few spoonful’s for our alfresco lunch was a happy one. The driver took another swerve and my mom muttered about how there are easier picnic foods to eat in the car than soupy beans.
Four days earlier, my parents had hiked a grueling six hours into Emrang (my village) and stayed for two days of school and a Sabbath. Now it was Monday and we were headed towards El Nito, a seaside town, not so beautiful itself, but known for its amazing ocean scenery and islands.
With the can balanced decorously in a Styrofoam tray, I poised my spoon for a bite. The can was a small one and the spoon nearly filled the small opening. I dipped in…..
As soon as the beans hit my mouth, I thought I was going to die. It was nearly pure salt and soy sauce! I choked and wondered what to do – there was nowhere to spit: no windows, no trashcan, the floor wasn’t an option. Puckering up, I tried eating several crackers to disperse the salt flavor. I didn’t work. With a mighty effort, I swallowed and the horribly saltiness receded down my throat. My mom handed me her water bottle.
Peering into the can, I noticed that there were indeed a few beans besides the salty brine. Apparently, Salted Black Beans are meant to be used as a seasoning only and not as a meal by themselves. I found out the hard way that foods overseas aren’t always the same as what I used to at home.
Discarding the beans as a bad idea, we ate peanut butter and crackers instead.
Over the past few months, I’ve had several spoonfuls of Salted Black Beans: teaching for the first time in a different language, giving rectal Chloroquine, hiking in the rain for hours, loneliness, lesson planning.
Sometimes, I don’t want to swallow – the taste overwhelms me. “This isn’t what I thought it was supposed to be!” I cry, “I was expecting something different!” But there is nowhere else for me to go, nothing to do but swallow.
“O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” Matthew 26:39