Our life in this community started with the children. It started with football matches in the street and Memory games on the porch. When we let the kids into our home, I always knew it would be messy. I knew they’d come into our house and put things back in all the wrong places, or not put them back at all. I learned pretty quickly they usually come with Mama noodles or fruit, and that they would use our walls as napkins. I learned that kids usually come along with younger kids, who pee on the floor.
And while I wasn’t expecting the vomited sprinkles that one day, I was expecting a mess.
In recent years, we have found more ways to connect with the adults in our community. In many ways this was because of language: while kids are more patient with hand gestures and silence, adults are not.
Instead, they are more receptive to practical needs being met: a desperate need for medical help or a helpful trip to the market. And as language continued to grow, even more opportunities presented themselves–opportunities to work together, whether it be temporary building projects around the house & community or long-term small business endeavors; opportunities for simple conversations over coffee or at the tea shop.
So we’ve watched our relationships with adults in the community grow exponentially and in countless ways. We’ve watched conversations unfold we never expected; we’ve welcomed people into our home we’ve never expected. We’ve had influence into homes and lives in the community in ways we’ve never expected.
But this has come with an unexpected: adults are messy.
Far messier than kids, I dare say.
Adults come with debts and addictions, loss and heartache. They come with abuse stories and lost siblings. They come with wounds from landmines. They come with deep pain and deep struggles worn on their faces and hands and smiles.
So while we have more relationships with the adults, we have more friends asking for far more than Memory cards. We have people with far greater wounds than a stubbed toe. We have conversations about much more than school. It’s getting messier and messier.
I created ledgers this week: two for two friends who owe us money back and one for a friend keeping her savings here at the house, where either her husband can’t gamble it or her friends can’t ask for it–both are rampant; we’re not sure. As if our own budget isn’t enough to keep balanced between two currencies, we’ve now added the community fund, the bread business, two loans, and a savings plan.
We’re muddling through this mess of small business, trying to help in real, tangible ways, while I have a realization every week that there is a very real, tangible reason I bailed on business as a major in college.
In the past few months we’ve bought our first community breast pump, physically separated a domestic dispute over if it was his baby or not, wiped up blood from another domestic situation, and spent the night at the hospital with a woman fearing she was having a miscarriage.
We’ve officially graduated into community adulthood, and I hope we can survive the mess: it runs far deeper than pee on the floor and pencil marks on the wall.