Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finding a sense of home: Being not Doing

"The LORD is my strength" to sit still. And what a difficult accomplishment this is! I often say to others during those times when I am compelled to be still, "If only I could do something!"... Yet to do nothing except sit still and wait requires tremendous strength. - Streams in the Desert, Cowan
 We have been in Haiti three weeks now. It's hard to believe really. This is the longest our family has been in the country. (I was here for a few months teaching English back in 2002 but it was an entirely different scenario because I was single then.) As they say, home is where your heart is. We have been in a time of transition these last weeks as our hearts are somewhat still in California with our community there but we are trying to physically and emotionally be here in Haiti following God's leading to serve with Christian Friendship Ministries. We are on a new journey seeking a sense of home.
 Our new reality includes waking before dawn to the sound of roosters outside our window. Children are constantly playing in our yard. The house is full of bustle: ladies cooking meals in the kitchen, men tending the crops in the garden adjacent to our house, people walking through the property to get down to the river, neighborhood kids playing soccer in the front yard by the church, another lady washing clothes and hanging them on the line out back. The rhythm is very different from what we experience in California.
 Walk down our street (Rue Pastor Bell) in Haiti and you may see a pig rolling in the mud, a little boy skittering down the street with only a ripped T-shirt on, my friend Tanya frying up plantains on a makeshift coal grill, ladies braiding each other's hair on the front porch fanning themselves from the flies, teens talking on their cell phones, Suzelene selling cold cokes from her store front, another man adjusting his tin roof to prepare for afternoon rain, adolescents playing soccer with a homemade ball of tape, motorcycles beep-beeping us to step aside.

What a switch from our Fig Garden neighborhood in Fresno with it's neat rows of houses and green lawns with perennials out front! The kids there ride bikes and scooters with brightly-colored helmets. Our neighbor walks her well-manicured little dog and stops in the shade of the trees. Businessmen are taking a stroll and gabbing on their iPhones on their lunch break. The loitering happens down at the 7-Eleven. Some people pull their cars into their two-car garages and never speak a word.
 I don't view one as better than the other. Just different. We are shifting home. At times I long for the comfort and convenience of American life. (After all, I am 19 weeks pregnant!) I miss the days when electricity and hot water come quickly at the flip of a switch. I dream about sitting in my bath tub and letting bubbles float over me. But I know deep down there is much to learn here. I don't have a long to-do list. I don't have any story times or play dates planned for my kids this afternoon. We will probably laze on the swing out back. My girls' highlight will be washing clothes with Madame Mariles - the simple joy of dipping their own shirts and dresses into soapy water and scrubbing back and forth. This evening we might take a stroll down by the river or I might sit on our front "lawn" and knit with my friend Louinise.

God is calling us to build our nest these months on an island far away from family and familiar. My new sense of home is gathering my family under my wings and savoring each moment, this gift of time together. We are called to listen to the Haitian people. We are compelled to observe their way of life. We pray and put our minds together on ways we can encourage their destitute spirits. We try to tell their stories. We are opening the eyes of our hearts to learn from them.

My friend Terry astutely reminded me that we are not human doers; we are human beings. I am learning to just be in Haiti.

Home for now is in the smiling faces of two orphan boys who sing a song of praise in front of the church on Sunday night. Home for now is fried plantains, chicken and squash in sauce with fresh-squeezed limeade. Home for now is roosters as my alarm clock and tropical rains in the afternoons to lull me to sleep. Home for now is in the brilliant red of the hibiscus flowers in my neighbor's yard. Home is gathering my girls in my bed under the mosquito net and reading from the yellowed pages of "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe." My mama read to me from this same weathered copy when I was Meilani's age.

We are finding home just being together.


nates5bs said...

Miss you, friend, but so proud of you!

VM Family said...

Oh, my friend, the "human-doer"! :) What a challenge it must be for you to just be still. Especially when you feeled called to Haiti for a purpose and want to work and be busy with achieving your goals!

But also, what a GIFT! You now have the opportunity to build relationships, listen to God, and shower your girlies with attention completely without distraction. No papers to grade, no fundraisers to plan, no thesis to write, no house to sell.

I know it goes against your very nature to look at a blank calendar and be glad, but I know too that you'll find peace and rewards in this time of "being not doing."

Still praying! :)
Love, Jen

Niana's Mommy said...

Read your post on my Google reader without pictures. It was amazing, but I have been to both places you are describing, but still both were beautiful. I, too, have been in that "be still" place. We Marthas must learn to stop, sit, and listen. Praying for you all. Praying for endurance for you. For quietness in the bustle of everyday chores and activities. Love you.