Monday, February 22, 2016

Life Recently - Finding Community

I have written honestly here about the loneliness, culture stress, and search for my place in this work. May my honesty about the struggles not cover the reality that there is a slowly building beauty in life here of settledness, community, and home.


Elly stuck a peanut waaaaay up her nose while on camera skyping my family back in the US, and none of us realized it. Skills. Life with Elly is shaping up to never be boring. She also seems to have Isaac's sense of humor and love of attention, so... Judah and I will be over here in a corner watching quietly.

I filled a months-long craving for Fadi's chicken shawarma wrap with this recipe. It was work but it was sooooo good.

I got a Foreign Affairs magazine subscription for Christmas because I am still so interesting in foreign policy and international affairs but can't see a way that it could be a career. So instead, develop that hobby and see just how interested I actually am! I love Foreign Affairs magazine and they only let you preview an article a month without a subscription. For the very few of you who might be as interested in foreign policy as I am, this article analyzing Obama's decisions overall foreign affairs path now that he's almost out of office is fascinating. It also shows some more insight into Hillary's perspective because it describes her opinions during her period as Secretary of State. Actually I think reading the article has really lowered my opinion of her professional background in foreign policy. That area is extremely important to me in the presidential candidates and she seems far too quick to advocate for military action, even direct, boots-on-the-ground military action.

I finished Marilynn Robinson's Lila and also the book The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg. Achingly poignant in the portrayal of loneliness. Robinson is a master of her craft. The other one was good, but reading them at the same time just highlighted the difference between a good popular level book and a literary masterpiece.

I drive Judah to school several times a week and I love it. I see daily life happening. Porches are being swept off, children brought to school in their uniforms on motorcycles, pigs and dogs and chickens wandering the streets, vegetable motorcycle vendors on their way from the market to the villages to sell, and everywhere.... life happening. The sky is the clean morning sky and we have a stunning pacific ocean view from the road for part of the drive. On the way home we round a bend and the Arfak mountains come into view, and I am amazed again that … I LIVE HERE. Just tonight I walked outside to throw our food scraps into compost pile and as the frogs jumped away from my feet I was met with the first sprinkles of a coming rain but the moon still brightly shining through the vines that grow long and hang down off the big trees in our  back yard. So, so amazing. As I post the rain is pouring outside and the wind blowing our curtains.

I've told Isaac so many times this month that I don't want to be anywhere else and I'm so glad we're here. Yes, it has been lonely and sometimes hard and I'm still figuring out what I'll do here and we are frequently drained. But man, it's just amazing to be here, to count this as home, to be weaving our lives into the fabric of this community, of this island that I love. There is such beauty of the Creator all around, and I see His fingerprints all over our path of settling in.

Honestly the biggest thing that moves me from those really difficult times to this contentment and excitement is community, particularly community of faith. I resolved to go to every activity I could with our church friends this semester, knowing that each moment invested will reap a harvest in developing relationships and friendships. And I prayed, I fiercely prayed and asked others to pray, because I was lonely. I set before God my longing to be be a part of a community here, to build relationships.

And so over the past two months since that loneliness post was written, our church friends (hey, we can call them friends now!) figured out that we did not know where anyone lived and there are no addresses or really even street names to help us figure out where meetings were held outside of the Sunday service. People started coming to our home to take us across town and into alleys and back roads, and it's at these meetings most of all where I have found community. We've been in the fancy homes of government officials and little ramshackle houses where we spill into three rooms and all sit on mats on the floor. We open the scripture, we sing together with no printed lyrics (and we actually know half the songs now!), we eat together, our children wander in and out, and we chat.

Now we know each other more, and this week when I looked around the room I know the stories, the personalities, some of the burdens and joys on the shoulders of each person. And then there is purely the unity that comes from worshiping together. Is there anything more beautiful and unifying than reading scripture in unison, singing praises to a God you have all given your lives to, in taking the body and the blood together with the Church of God throughout history and knowing that we are family, united in this belief, this story, this Jesus that has gripped us all? It is good to gather together with the people of God. The comfort, joy, and community that flows from it is really miraculous, and it is feeding my soul week by week. I am so thankful.

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