Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Life in Community: Take a Peek

I love schedules. I write them out for fun, shifting minutes and hours and activities while thinking through what has worked, what could work, and what I want to work. I love the order and simplicity of a life well-organized.

I totally picked the wrong career: Motherhood.

Then I really blew it: Missionary.

Finally, I cemented myself into a life where a schedule will only be words and hours on paper, never a reality: Village.

We just passed the one year mark in our new home. Amidst the chaos, I've found a beautiful order ebbs and flows more perfect for His purposes than my time slots to sweep and dust.

Take a peek into our world ...
My ears always wake before the rest of my body. I go to sleep to the sound of insects and frogs, a symphony I don't know how I'll ever learn to sleep without and one that usually dies down around 3:00AM. Our neighbors typically choose this time to turn off their flashlights and begin the long task of preparing food that they sell in a town nearby. The rhythmic sound of knife to cutting board soon blends with the rather un-beautiful sound of our other neighbor's rooster. We've been told it has some kind of parasite in its throat, and I've never heard such a pitiful excuse for a crow.

The Lord saw fit, after five nature-less years in the city, to have mercy on my foliage starved soul. My eyes open to the first rays of light on the eastern horizon framed by mango, palm, and guava, the mist on the grasses of our farm yard, the slight breeze that rustles my hair. Every day, the first breath out of my lips is thankfulness for this visible sign of His presence, His love.

I tiptoe over boards that refuse to be silenced, don my tennis shoes, and get on my elliptical which seems ever so out of place in my stilted wooden house. Then there is that most wondrous, most refreshing of events that takes place twice a day (and even more during hot season): the dip bath.

Kids soon begin trickling rather loudly from their bedrooms, the clicking of the "off" button on their fan proceeding the thump-thump-thumping of groggy feet heading to find out what this day holds. Clothes are pulled over and up, diapers changed, then we eat our spiritual breakfast, leading little ones before the throne in early morning hours, receiving the Rest our souls need before the task ahead.

Mornings are for work. Cooking must be done before the heat, 9:00AM being entirely too late in the day to deal with anything resembling fire. We run the semi-automatic washing machine through its cycles feeling rather like fighter pilots sporting our ear covers against the generator's thunderous hammering.  Crusade with broom and wet rag against near plague-like dust knowing full well, in the end, we'll win this battle but lose the war. Burn trash, and compost scraps. Pump the water. Hang the wet clothes on barbed wire. The fruit of this work is seen, and seeing it gives me strength to endure in a life where fruit is slow to ripen.

The afternoon meal with Daddy who often leaves before the children wake is usually a raucous occasion, punctuated with giggles and parental pleadings to please keep the noise to a less ear-splitting level. Tiny concrete room and six excited children - a storm before the calm. 

Peace shrouds the afternoon, a kid in the hammock under the enormous mango tree, two littles sprawled on the traditional "bed" lulled by heat and cooled by breezes. It is my time to prepare lessons for little students, sponge-like minds in bodies that can hardly sit still. Quiet encompasses the entire village, each family enjoying a mid-day Sabbath.  Silence is a precious gift.

School. Waking tow-headed blondes. Snacks. Workbooks. Curiosity reigns, fueled by rest and refreshment.

Shrieks of playful delight like ringing bells split the air. Neighbor kids peddling home from state school and mothers, sisters returning from the Gap - that is, making the company's clothes. Men hold babies, siblings hurry each other along to in search of fun. Afternoons are for friends. I often look up from whatever I am doing to see a blonde head racing off on some kind of adventure or another down the hard-packed dirt road. I visit homes or hang on the fence talking, hoping, and praying for a chance to love more, to give the greatest gift of love I have: my Jesus. Every interaction the Lord fills with love, and His grace beckons. His desire for these people is palpable.

Avoiding trouble with cows heading home
The lowing cows heading home are the first to signal the gloaming, the armistice of work and worker. My pace as I go about preparing the table for our evening meal matches the flip-flop-flip-flop of dirt-browned family groups passing by my home river bound for bathing. My own dirty children tumble past the screen door, making mud as they wash their play-filled hands.  The clink-clanking of dishes and silverware reverberates all around us as families dine together. Darkness falls, cool, deep, almost festive, the battle for another day is over. Baths, pajamas, cuddles. "He gives songs in the night," indeed. We join His song together one last time, various pitches of praise and devotion mixed with themes from Frozen and Spirit; then we pray our precious ones to sleep, our children and our villagers. 

Yes, Lord, your schedule far surpasses mine in beauty and efficiency. I have no desire to have dominion over Your time, Your plan. I soon surrender to sleep, creation's song swelling around me, surrendering yet again to the Alpha, the Omega, awaiting His next call a few short hours away.

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