First of all, it's weird that the dollar stores are called "Chinos." It'd be like setting up an American store of cheap household items in China and calling it "the American." Or calling a Spanish store in the States "the Spaniard." But, whatever. That's just how it goes.
So, the Chino. Camarma has two of them (you may remember that the one off the plaza is the one where the other customer chastised me about the phone. I am still working up the courage to return.). The other one is on a corner of town, and I figured it would be much like the first: haphazard stacks of notebooks and candies, plastic sugar bowls, cheap toys, and random merchandise emblazoned with the faces of Hannah Montana and SpongeBob. My roommate came home from the corner Chino the other day with a package of toilet paper and a shower caddy, and I thought that perhaps she was just more successful at locating things in the mishmash than I had been. But then Jay and Lisa reported their own Chino findings, things like tools and beauty products and stationery, and I was sold!
Oh, corner Chino! A magical world of affordable delight! Shelves upon shelves of organization, of paper products and pet food, of rugs and towels and White-Out. You can buy nail polish! You can buy screwdrivers! You can buy power converters, surge protectors, giant bottles of body wash, and sippy cups with cow pictures on the side! Not that I need any of those things, but it's nice to know that if I did, I could get them. My three-week search for padded envelopes came to an end in the Chino, as did my ruminations on how to keep dirt out of my bed (the answer: a 2,50€ rug in summery blues and greens).
As I walked home from the Chino--bag and heart full of happiness--I thought about how much better I've felt even since last weekend, since that teary confession to my WorldVenture teammates. There's just something about saying things out loud, something that makes the situation seems bearable, even if nothing else changed between the thinking and the speaking of it. It is small things like these that leave me no doubt about God's innate design and understanding of humans in the way he relates to us and asks us to relate to one another. Does he wish for us to confess things so that we can feel pious and spiritual, or so we might have leverage over another person? Did he place in us the need to confess so that he might have some measure of control over us? Of course not! I don't believe that he asks us to do things for the sake of ritual or to exert malevolent power; he asks because he knows how we function, how life is best lived. We are told to confess because the longer we carry things on our own, whether lies or secrets or pains, the more we are consumed by ourselves, and the more we shrivel into something a little less like a human being. Just to admit something hurtful, something humiliating before one other person is so healing--so how much more to do so before a group of people who love you, who are willing to pray for you, who care enough about your restoration to take part in it?
Tears, confessions, shopping at the Chino--they all add to the healing and to the feeling of belonging. And I'm sure I will be revisiting all of them many times while I'm here.