Friday, June 11, 2010

Food for the journey . . .

So today makes a week that I have been here on the island. And my, has it been a week. A trying one. A contemplative one. Power has gone out almost every day as I come to learn that the power system can only take so many generators and air conditioners running each day. And it has been extremely hot here . . . hotter than I'm used to in Florida/South Georgia and Atlanta . . . hotter than it's supposed to be this time of year . . . hot like as soon as you step out of the shower and dry off, you need to dry off again hot cause the sweat just keeps on popping up. I've been battling bugs . . . attacked by mosquitoes . . . and just struggled overall to get adjusted to doing ministry here in the Bahamas. . . in a small rural older community where there is not much to do and expectations are high.

Admittedly, I've been distracted by these minor inconveniences.

But I have survived thus far. Truth be told, what has aided me on the journey has been the hospitality of the families here. Just when I was having a "wits end" moment, a rainbow would emerge in the form of what I call this radical form of hospitality. And maybe it's not really radical at all, just a form of neighborliness that I am not used to.

Earlier this week, as the clouds started to gather and lightening flashed across the water, I prepared myself for what I knew would be a heavy downpour. I didn't expect the power to go out and continue to be out as night fell. I attempted to sit on the back porch and read a bit, but the mosquitoes were just to much for me to take. Inside it was just unbearable, but I had resigned myself to just lying down, thinking that if I breathed slowly and remained still, I wouldn't feel the heat as much. But just as I was trying to figure out how I would endure the heat that already had sweat rolling down my back and across my brow, I get a phone call from a couple from the church to pack a overnight bag and come to their house. They had a generator and air was in plenty supply. They even had leftovers I could enjoy, since loss of power left me with no way to cook or warm leftovers I had in the refrigerator.

As I strolled down the street, pulling my little overnight bag behind me, I saw neighbors gathering at each other's home talking to one another and enduring the blackout and heat together. And I was reminded of the communal tradition that many of us have long left behind as we have come to value our privacy and live individual lives.

But not here. Here in Abaco in the Cherokee Sound community, every family -- whether related by blood or not -- is connected to each other. They rely on each other and look after each other.
Two days ago, a neighbor dropped by to bring me lunch. She had no idea I had awoke to meet ants in my cereal and was having another "wits end" moment. That night I was invited to dinner at her nieces house. And her niece had no idea that I had simply planned to eat some leafy greens and tomatoes or something because it was just too hot for me to cook.

These are the moments I have had here. These are the moments God has created to show God's self in the midst of the frustration. On Wednesday, a friend reminded me that God manifests in every situation and we have to open our eyes to see how God is revealed -- even in the most trying times. She asked how I could see God in the situation of the "ants invading my cereal". At the time, I couldn't see God anywhere.

But now that I look at the picture in its entirety and at these collection of days, I see God's attempt to show me love through the many acts of kindness of God's people here. I see God calling me back to simpler times . . . to times of reflection and introspection . . . to remembering what God said to the people of Zion in Isaiah:
"and provide for those who grieve in Zion -- to bestow on them a crown of beauty for their ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for a display of their splendor." --Isaiah 61:3

So even on my worst day, I see the promises of God and am given a glimmer of hope of the best that lies ahead. I see that I matter and God always has me in mind, particularly when I find myself captive by a myriad of experiences and trials I rather not endure, but are necessary.

In these moments -- like now -- when my mind and spirit is quiet enough to hear . . .I hear another dead limb being cut away.
The pruning continues . . .


Evita76 said...

I am so glad that God is showing you how to see his (yes, I said it) hand moving even in the midst of what may not be the most conducive circumstances. I look forward to continuing to read your posts to learn more of your journey to God, yourself and ministry. PLD love!

Pam Hollinshead said...

Juanna, I am enjoying your posts and I am looking forward to reading about your experiences in the Bahamas. It is truly amazing how God is speaking to you and through you. Your Warren family is praying for you.--Pam