I’ve been putting off writing because I haven’t known how to share what’s been going on. Oh, it’s nothing bad! Just routine life with a few twists thrown in. Let me explain.
I’ve been eating meals. Routine, right? Many meals I’ve made for myself. Routine. Some meals others made. A nice normal break from routine. And then there’s the meal we made…starting with going to town to buy the veggies and chickens in the maket. Yes. I said chickens. You see, our language class had the privilege of learning to make mambu kakaruk (bamboo chicken). Upon returning from town, the men set about their work and the women theirs. We women started out with sorting, tearing and washing the greens. The men began with killing and plucking the chickens. (Yay for men!) One little neighbor was quite concerned that “his” chicken (promptly claimed upon its arrival from town) would see the others going to their demise and worry. So he gently stroked its feathers, mumbling comforting words and attempted to feed it greens until its own imminent demise. Such gentleness and concern is admirable although wasted, in the opinion of some, on lunch.
A few of us women then cleaned them out before handing them back to the men to cut up. Being that the middle-schoolers were currently learning about human anatomy, I had 4-5 eager little boys for an impromptu lesson on chicken anatomy. It’s so much fun to hear the pride and amazement in their voices as they identified parts and asked their questions. Does my nurse’s heart good!
Anyhow…back to the meal. The women then set to work grating ginger, garlic and carrots while some of the men were cutting up the meat and some were sawing apart a thick bamboo pole. For those of you unfamiliar with bamboo, it grows in sections. Each section is easily distinguished by a ring that forms a solid plate between each section. So in cutting them apart, they created several long tubes that were closed on one end. After washing them out, we then wadded up lemon grass, breaking it up a bit as we did to release the flavor. Then we added the mixture we’d made of the other ingredients, topping it off with another wad of lemon grass and sealing it with a wadded up section of banana leaf. These were then placed in the fire and turned regularly by two of the men until fully cooked. “Good” and “delicious” do not even begin to describe it!!! Despite the messy beginning, mambu kakaruk is amazing!
But back to our topic of routines. Another routine that has been part of my day is language class. Typically this would be in our classroom here or would occur during a cultural learning event, such as going out to work in the gardens or wash clothes with our citizen language helpers. Routine. Practicing with others you meet around the center. Routine. Going out to Interface campus (a more remote area where college age students can come and experience missions) for classes and an overnight stay…not routine. But very relaxing. To be away from street lights and the noise of traffic. To see stars and listen to silence…yes, silence has a sound as well! See lightning bugs. Hear about large fruit bats. Eat good food. Talk with good friends. Receive good teaching. Good times.
However, these “good times”, such as they are, have come to an end of sorts for me. Language level 1 is complete and I’ve started work in the clinic. I only have two mornings this week for language level 2 and then I will have to fit it in around my schedule as I can. This morning was actually one of those.
I went with one of our security guards to work with his wife in the garden. She taught me how to prepare a garden and how to prepare and plant tapiok. We got done quickly and then sat in the shade and “storied” for another 2 hours or so. As part of our learning, once we’ve worked through a daily process (such as working in the garden) we are to ask our language helper to tell us each step that was involved, recording it on a handheld recorder for language review later. This I did and when I played it back to her, she just laughed and laughed. She thought it was hilarious that I had “caught her voice in there” and loved hearing herself recorded.
In the process of “storying”, we covered a wide range of topics. One being whether “Yu got man bilong yu?” (Do you have a man that belongs to you? Or, in other words, are you married?)…to which I replied, “No. Mi nogat man.” Which prompted the question from her, “Hamas Christmas bilong yu?” (How many Christmases belong to you? (they count years by Christmases) Or, in other words, how old are you?)…”31 yia,” I replied. After which she informed me that “planti meri i got 2-3-4-faivpelah pikikini bilong em. Bilong wanem you nogat man?” (…plenty women [this age] have 2-3-4-5 kids. Why do you not have a man?). How to answer with my VERY limited Pisin….”Mi laik painim man wantaim heart bilong em bilong Bikpelah Papa God. Mi painim, painim, painim…no lukim man bilong mi.” (I would like to find a man whose heart belongs to God. I look, look, look…but I don’t see a man to belong to me.) This answer she accepted readily though with laughter, telling me I’m funny. I’m not sure if I got my idea across or not but at least I entertained them and the conversation moved on to other things!
Returning again to our topic of routines…Another routine that is becoming more common-place in my life is going to work in the clinic each day. I have much to learn but am enjoying it all. Working all day in the clinic. Routine. Working the occasional half-day in the clinic. Sometimes part of the weekly routine. Working a half-day then going on holiday for the next 3-1/2 days…not routine but so much fun! We had our annual conference for general encouragement and refreshment. We are in a rewarding line of work.
However, even in such work the day-to-day concerns are very present. School, family, things going on at home, preparing to be home shortly (for some), making wedding preparations in the midst of living in another country than you will marry in while working full-time (as friends of mine are doing), etc. Life doesn’t stop being life because you are in another country. Actually, life is the same with a little more time needed to accomplish each item of that life! And so we lose our focus on God being our everything. We become discouraged because I can’t control everything and none of it is going as I think it should.
Our speaker for the weekend challenged us on our sense of entitlement—I deserve…, I have the right to…, etc.—and asked us the question, “Is what Jesus did for me enough?” Before God, I was in darkness, lost, blind, hopeless, wicked, unforgiven, guilty, doomed forever, having an evil nature, under God’s anger, outsiders by birth, enemies of God, far from God, and headed for a horrible destination (hell). But God loved me as a sinner and sent His very own Son to become human, live among us and die a torturous death as a criminal though He was innocent. By His death and resurrection He took all of those things above on Himself and made me a new creation. He made me loved, accepted by God, adopted as a child of God, forgiven, in light, with assurance of hope, righteous with His righteousness, given eternal life, and headed for a wonderful destination (heaven). And He did it for me. He did it for you. “If He did nothing else for me for the rest of my life, would that not be enough?” I deserve nothing that He’s done so far. What makes me think I can march up to the throne of heaven and demand anything?! “Is it enough?”
This does not mean, of course, that we are not to pray and ask God for what we need/want for He even commands us to do so. But what is my heart attitude in doing so? Is it selfishness, pride, entitlement, and complaining? Or is it humility and gratefulness, being God-focused? For me, it’s been a lot of pride and selfishness and entitlement, which makes me feel bold enough to dare to complain that things are not like I want them to be. But through the speaker’s message, God challenged me: “If He did nothing else for me for the rest of my life, would that not be enough? That I am no longer who and where I used to be?” That is a tough question to answer, leading me to ask, “God, I know I’m nowhere close to being humble or ready to relinquish my selfishness but I want to please you and I want to be those things. But how?” To which He replies, “…without me ye can do nothing.” I can’t do anything but ask Him to change me. And He does. Miracle of miracle, He does. In the sense of the awesomeness of what He does, there’s nothing routine about it! But in the sense that He does it for everyone that asks, it’s blessedly routine for Him! Hhhhmmmm….much to think about.