Some days, community happens. I can sense the connections to the families here, I dread leaving them for three whole months, and I know we are truly learning something so beautiful here.
Other days, it is not so hopeful. Other days it feels that there are no real relationships on such limited communication; what if they don’t even understand why we are here? What if we are just being used? What if we are just fools?
These are all possibilities. I can’t promise we are always in the right place or that we make the right decisions for development and sustainability. I can’t promise I’m not a softie and sometimes the kids know which child to send to ask for such-and-such. I can’t promise there are any true Kingdom effects of what we do day in and day out.
I can only promise that we certainly love them. I can promise that God has confirmed so many decisions and spoken softly in so many moments of questioning.
I can promise that these relationships are some of the hardest I have ever had, so when community happens: we celebrate it. We rejoice that maybe, just maybe, there is something bigger than us happening.
This week, there were some of those moments.
There was a celebration on Wednesday for a little boy who had turned one-month old. I can’t say I’ve seen such a celebration elsewhere, but they were happy. They joyfully brought over and shared four huge servings of fried noodles with us.
The next day we had our cooking class with plenty of extras left. We, too, brought them home and shared them with the community.
As simple as it is, there is something very beautiful & communal in sharing food together.
Another morning I went out for a run and returned just as everyone was headed off to work and school. As I came near our road, eight bicycles of men from the community rounded the corner–all in a row and all smiling hellos at me. Just as they went by, a truck full of school kids passed behind me, and I heard the sweet voices of, “Kelli! Kelli! Buh bye, buh bye!”
And then I ran closer to pass a little boy on his bicycle, who slowly and clearly yelled, “Hello! I go to school!” I gave him a thumbs up, and then looked up to see our house. Out front sat a number of women, holding their children and conversing. I gave them hellos and high-fives to the kids.
Again, small connections that make us feel like we are truly a part of a neighborhood, learning together and living life side by side; somehow closing the great gaps between our childhoods, stories, and cultures.
And last, we are so excited to say that the community garden is working: we have a fence to keep the kiddos from trampling plants, we have a well to water relatively cheaply; we have little sprouts popping up and promising to feed many.
We are praying that community happens: in these weeks before go, even in the weeks we are gone–that somehow our relationships will deepen with a short absence.
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
We have recently been blessed with the music of The Verses Project, which releases songs based off Scripture for free download. This verse above is one of them, and it has been reverberating in my mind: that we might bear with one another’s failings–or cultural offenses for us; that we might please our neighbors for their good; that we might build each other up.