Sometimes, it's been really hard being down here and missing everyone back home. But we are SO thankful that we live in a time where there's Facebook and Skype and blogs --- I just don't think I'm cut out for being on my own! …So, in thinking of how we can better stay in touch, we decided to create a website. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears (okay, actually just a TON of loud frustrated sighs), but I'm pretty proud of how it turned out! I tried to model it after what my desk usually looks like, which is pretty chaotic on its own! There are pics of our adventure and this beautiful island of Dominica, a page where you can learn more about where we live, and of course, our blog. So head on over to A Purposeful Chaos and check it out, I'd love to hear what you think!
There's a video that's been circling the internet that focuses on an important issue faced by many Americans today; FWP. It was such an astute and relevant video, I even reposted it on our facebook page. Take a minute to view the video here:
So, yes I'll admit that I got a pretty good laugh out of that, especially since many, many of my conversations with Solveig the past 7 weeks have been about needing to man up in our new lives here on Dominica. But I've also been very impressed with how tough, brave and friendly she and Lincoln have become in such a short time. Solveig no longer complains about the 30 minute offroad hike in the heat to the school campus but trucks along like a little trooper. They let locals hold them on their laps every day on our transport to school in the morning, and smile and respond politely to the overt friendliness that is part of this culture. They've tried more new foods in the last month than I can count (though that's nothing new; refusing food has never been option - we don't offend the chef in our household!). I was worried Solveig'd be a little afraid of her new teacher, a gentle no-nonsense Dominican woman, but when I asked her what she thought she just shrugged and said "She talks Dominican. I like it."
I have done a lot of growing, too. I'm getting used to Jon being absent and having to navigate this country on my own. I'm learning to be brave and stay safe when walking by myself, I'm learning how to swim in the open ocean, I'm learning how to cook with local produce. At least once every day I remind myself to suck it up when I have to make bread from scratch, or have to walk the long hot path to the school carrying Linc, or miss having my friends to help me decompress all this new, or any other number of things I do every day. One of Jon's classmates saw that FWP video and reposted it with a note that it was for friends back home in America as it didn't apply to us since we were, after all, "roughing it" here in a developing nation. And for a second I agreed with him, I mean after all I am living far out of my comfort zone every single day.
But then I saw this ad campaign from the organization Water is Life:
Recently there was a scare here that the water supply had been contaminated likely for month, and for about 36 hours there was a huge reaction from the American student population here ranging from high stress to sarcasm at the ghetto of a country we live in. But a new friend quietly reminded some of us that while our inconvenience was temporary, the absence of safe drinking water is a permanent and life-threatening reality for a majority of people on this planet. My Grandpa dedicated his life to clean water for refugees in developing countries and some of you know he was a big influence in Jon's decision to become a doctor, so that hit close to home!
I thought I'd come *so far* but I realize that I will never really struggle the way my neighbors here struggle.
I complain that I bought too much food at the grocery store and now I have to lug my 8 bags All. The. Way. Home., when the person in the next line can barely afford the contents of her single bag. I complain that the transport took too long to arrive when the guy who opened the van door for me and my children can't even afford the $0.60 bus fare. I complain that our barrel hasn't arrived yet with my 6 pairs of brand new flip-flops so I have to wear an extra pair of Jon's, when the mom I met in the park last week doesn't even have shoes. You can take a first-world girl out of the first-world, but you can't take the first-world out of the girl.
And I really hope that's not true.
We knew when we got the call to move down here that God was putting us in a mission field for this time. We've been given nothing but opportunity to share our blessings of love, resources, energy, friendship, and most of all salvation. But I have let myself become distracted by the reality of hard work instead of viewing it as a blessing. God is blessing us with an understanding of these people, a taste of the poverty and corruption in this country and an appreciation for those who work hard to overcome it.
God is blessing us with discomfort:
As I've been pondering these things the past couple of weeks or so, the kids and I have become involved in a ministry here for impoverished kids in Portsmouth, the city that neighbors Glanvillia. In a country of 23% unemployment, average yearly income of $14,600, and about a third of the population below the poverty line, there are many kids in need. We sing worship songs, play games, have a Bible lesson, craft, and provide a modest meal. For a lot of these kids, that is the only meal they will eat that day, or sometimes even for a couple of days. But these kids are bright, friendly, energetic little sweethearts, and I'm excited that me and my kids get to know them for the next two years. And of course my mind is already swirling with the hundreds of ways I see that we can grow in our care and love of these sweet kiddos (stay tuned Harvest, I might be calling in some favors soon!).
It's a process, but there's nothing that makes me more aware of my chronic FWP than to live here in a developing country. And I know that my Jesus loves me and has put us here to learn the lessons we're learning, but that He also chose to have me grow up in America and knows I have the perspective of privilege. Daily I want my prayer to be "Jesus break my heart for what breaks yours."
My new life is still scary (like when the strange guy with a machete on the path watches me walk behind him for several minutes before waiting for me to catch up and starts asking me where I live, when does my husband get home, etc.), it's still hard (like when I feel about to explode without someone to talk to about things while I try keep it light with my new friends), it's still exhausting (like when I walk to and from the transport stop with Linc crying and dragging beside me the entire way with all our neighbors staring at us. Every single day.) but it is never without purpose, and I am thankful that I have a Rescuer who will not let our time here go to waste.