I lived in Cotonou, Benin, West Africa for 6 months in 2001. Cotonou is a port city and I lived on a boat in the port for part of that time. There was no grass to be found. Even in other parts of the city yards and open spaces comprised of dust, dirt and more dust. As students with YWAM our cheapest mode of transportation was zimijans (small motor bikes for hire) with a driver. It was always interesting trying to communicate to our driver where you wanted to go and agree on a price with little to no French (for me) or English (for him).
One particularly hot day, I had hired a zimijan to take me to a restaurant where I was meeting some friends to eat. The driver headed out of the port area on a road I had not driven on before. At that point my knowledge of the city was very limited so I didn't think much of it. We were headed in the general direction of the restaurant so I just sat back and tried to enjoy the ride (while holding on for dear life to the bar behind my back!) It seemed to be taking a little longer then I thought and I began to get a little worried. I had recently had a traumatic experience with another zimijan driver who I could not communicate with and left me in the middle of nowhere, yelling at me as he drove away. I did not want a repeat performance. I was just about to ask him to pull over so we could review my destination when I smelled it.
Fresh cut grass. To my right was the Cotonou Hilton and inside it's gated walls were acres of green. freshly cut grass. My mind was instantly transported. I was no longer on the back of a motorcycle in dusty, dirty western Africa, I was home. I was driving through the rolling hills of my childhood home breathing in spring. It was only a moment, but it was enough for my homesick heart. A glimpse and a reminder of what I'd left behind. You might think it made me even more homesick, but the opposite happened. It reminded me how big my God was. That He chose to lead a home loving, country girl like me to the other side of the world to experience Him in amazing ways. He loves me that much!
Spring is finally here. Trees are blooming, spring bulbs are bright with color and the grass is slowly turning green once again. As I was driving home from the store earlier this week I caught my first waft of fresh cut grass. And this time I found myself remembering the girl on the back of the motorcycle and the God who loves her.