One year ago things were quite different from today. We had just welcomed the Brooks to Paradi and were enjoying the new dynamic to our team plus better coffee at team meetings. Kyle and Hala were beginning their senior year of high school. Vivian was teaching the younger girls. Eli was on summer break from Bible school and saving to return for his second year. Chuck was neck deep in Old Testament scripture making sure he understood what was being said in a language he didn’t know. We looked ahead to another 2 years before us of ministry among the Ga’dang. Life was pretty good.
Today isn’t anywhere near the same. There is a loneliness in my heart and living room these days. The anxiety of what is coming over the next year creeps in all to often.
Today the Brooks are back in the US going through some very difficult times with Danny being treated for cancer. He’s completed 5 rounds of chemo and is heading into surgery this week on the tumour site to make sure nothing is left there. He’s facing 6 weeks of radiation after his wound heals. Their little family of 4 is going through some very difficult times. We miss them terribly. We long for team meetings with coffee, smiles and laughter. We miss the stories of the antics Izzy and Judah have found themselves involved in while adjusting to a new village. We ache for the pain they are going through. We wonder why them.
Today Kyle is not with us. He is living in Canada. He’s working a job. He’s learning to drive. He’s becoming an independent young man. He’s not here to make us laugh with his puns. He’s not here to drive his sisters crazy. He’s not here to talk about life late into the evening when I’m tired. He’s not working under the house and coming in for mom to pull slivers out.
Today Elijah is navigating life outside the New Tribes bubble. He’s struggling to find his place. To find a ‘home’. He’s struggled to find work and direction for his future. He’s where we can’t help him learn to drive. He’s attending family events as a young independent man without his parents in tow. He’s looking to God for direction instead of his parents.
Today Hala is occupying her little sister. Teaching her to play games and showing her how to colour neatly. Hala is making coffee for snack time and preparing meals. She’s dreaming of her future away from Paradi. She’s waiting to move on.
Today Vivian is with her family in the US. She’s finished 1 semester of Bible school and seeking God for her future.
Today I am in the school room teaching the girls. I struggle to find time to do the things I used to do. I’ve had to limit medical work to the afternoons as I just can’t balance teaching and constant interruptions. I am loving watching the girls learn more and seeing them master new skills. I am loving and hating teaching Beatrice to read.
Today Chuck is over his head deep in lesson writing. He’s written 10 of 42 lessons in Ga’dang. He’s prepared detailed outlines of 12 other lessons. He’s added 450 new words to his Ga’dang word list that he didn’t learn in formal language study. About 1/3 of those words were totally brand new. The others he was familiar with different forms of the word.
Today Chuck tries to balance the termites that are having a meal of our house. Seven floor joists are eaten out. Several wall panels and plywood floors have been eaten hollow. An entire shelf of story books have been eaten. He’s lost days of work on lessons trying to keep our house together lately.
Today we look forward to where we will be 1 year from now. We look forward with excitement, fear and uncertainty. In just about 10 months we will be heading back to Canada to start a different part of our lives. Today we don’t know what we will be doing or where we will live. Today I try to not think about it and enjoy the afternoon thunderstorms and those who cook and clean for me. Today I smile and enjoy putting a bandaid on a little boys cut. Today I continue to work on my friendship with my laundry ladies 1 year old even though she won’t remember me 2 years from now.
Today is hard.
Over the last couple weeks I have found some new-to-me music. We aren’t exposed to new Christian music very often over here. One of my favourites is “Joy” by For King and Country. When everything weighs heavy on my mind and heart I find it easy to think that it could be worse. We could be going through what the Brooks are going through. We could be going through the death of a spouse. But the Lord reminded me last night as I listened to this song again that I need to choose JOY no matter the circumstances. Even if life was more difficult and I was going through more than anyone else, I need to choose joy. The Lord is with me no matter how difficult things are. He is the one that I need to depend on for my strength and joy not the thought that it could be worse. In my playlist I also have Toby Mac’s, “I just need u”. He is all I need. He is all the Brooks need. He is all you need. His love for me is abounding. It is always there. I can depend on Him.
This week I read Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillio. In this memior of her life as a black teenager integrating a white high school in 1957, she is repeatedly told by her grandmother to read Psalm 23. As I read it again today I am reminded that He is with me through these days. There is no need for loneliness as He is always with me. I am comforted by His presence during these days. I pray you will be comforted by His presence in your life.
Pray for us as we live with our hearts and minds in the past, present and future. Pray we can be faithful in all He has before us. Pray that Satan won’t have his way and discourage us. Pray that we keep clinging to the One we need that most that brings us joy.