When the Rains Don’t Stop

I grew up in rural America where four very distinct seasons dominated the rhythms of my family’s farming life. But now, even after 10 plus years of living in Southeast Asia, the long monsoon season can still catch me off guard.

While summer in America is filled with vacations and beach trips, fireworks and cookouts, camps and church VBS, the “summer months” here look much different due to the monsoon rainy season. As a reference point, yearly precipitation in Southeast Asia is over four times the average precipitation in rural America. These rains bring relief from the scorching temperatures of the hot and dry season but also many unwanted challenges.

Rainy season in Southeast Asia is our family’s equivalent to a winter hibernation. I rarely leave our house with our many children, and the swarms of dengue- and disease-carrying mosquitoes prevent me from spending much time outside.

A certain seasonal depression tends to set in for me. The rains begin fairly slowly at the end of May or beginning of June. But by the end of July and into August, the torrents feel unceasing. It rains and rains and rains. Every day for days on end, hardly pausing long enough for my mind to remember that the rains have ever stopped.

The torrents beat down on the metal roof of our house with a deafening roar. Floods come to some neighborhoods, and roads washout on mountain passes, disrupting travel and trade. Mudslides can take the lives of whole villages.

Our own house is safe from the extreme dangers. It is built well with a firm foundation, but the incessant day after day rains still take their toll on our physical and mental health. Mold seems to grow on everything, making cleaning and especially laundry challenging. We hang our clothes in a hallway with a fan blowing, finally folding it after a couple days when we realize they aren’t going to get any drier. In years past we’ve ironed every piece of our clothing just to get the mold and wetness out.

Ants try to escape the floods in the yard and invade our house in droves. They are efficient workers, dragging their eggs with them and making themselves at home almost anywhere in just a few hours. What is cleaned today will not stay clean tomorrow, making me feel trapped in a cycle of never-ending work and to-do lists. No matter how much I accomplish today, it will never be enough.

Rainy season illnesses seem to be both physical and spiritual in nature. Our physical bodies are attacked with illness as our spiritual fortitude and commitments are tested and purified. In years past, we contracted the mosquito-borne dengue fever and chikungunya, which were both terrible, frightening, and physically and spiritually exhausting. This year we eked by with random fevers and stomach bugs until one of our kids contracted a skin infection that made her unable to walk normally and required over a month of strong antibiotics.

Amid the stupor of fevers and out-of-whack family routines, time passes in a blur of daily survival. I move from one urgent task to the next, never knowing when it will end or when the next crisis will arrive.

Somewhere in the midst of the rainy season weariness each year, I start to wonder if the world will ever dry out again. If the torrents of stress and illness, fatigue and depression, discouragement and trials of faith will ever have a reprieve. Will my clothes ever dry? Will the mold ever go away? Will we ever be healthy again? Will I ever feel the warmth of the bright sun on my skin?

Will I ever feel the blessings of God pouring down again, or will I continually be tested by the never-ending, pounding storms of life?

Will the rains ever stop?

Just when I’m about to give in to the ants and the mold, to the depression and the sickness, to the hopelessness and discouragement, somehow every year, the sun shines again, and little by little health and hope return.

So I’m waiting and hoping and holding on. Maybe soon I’ll see the rainbow after the storm.

 

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Julie Jean Francis

Julie Jean Francis has lived as an alien and stranger in Southeast Asia since 2012. With her husband, she serves among a large, unreached people group. Together they raise their (many) Third Culture Kids. Julie is the author of Bowing Low: Rejecting the Idols Around Us to Worship the Living God and its companion Bible study. When We Called Myanmar Home is her first picture book especially for TCKs and those who love them. You can find her online, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

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