I knew that I was heading for a potential emotional ditch when a well-meaning friend asked when Aubrey and Andrew would be coming home for Christmas. I responded that they would not be coming “home” and she frowned and stated that their family did that once and decided never again. Uh Oh. That information arrived to me months to late. December was filled with grown-up missionary kids returning to their parents and family, still serving here in Papua. Pictures on social media kept popping up of reuniting families. Sigh. My heart wanted to be sad. After all this was our first Christmas to be apart. Knowing that wallowing in this ditch would not help anyone or anything I asked the Lord for help and He clearly gave me a perspective. It was quite simple. To choose joy. To focus on the fact that my university boys were happy, healthy, thriving, getting to make memories with extended family, alive, and had much support with good friends. I loved the pictures that family and friends sent. I loved not falling into the sad ditch.
Another way I chose to not fall into the ditch of self-pity was to open our home up on Christmas day to extended friends. Some of these people we only ever socialize with them on Christmas. Call it tradition. Call it people needing somewhere to come when they don’t have anywhere else to go, that feels somewhat homey. We loaded all our living room furniture into the hot house that Darron has made to combat the bedbugs (yes that is a whole other emotional ditch that I keep falling into and out of). And set up two long tables. We enjoyed an afternoon of very full tables and stories from Papua from years and years ago (and modern-day stories also).
This season has been especially meaningful with our Jacob and Nathaniel (15 and 13 years old). They are emerging into young men with fun personalities and surprisingly they enjoy hanging out with us for hours on end. Darron is constantly trying to create ways for the extremely poor people here to make a living. Knowing that if he can teach them to fish, rather than give them a fish, it will take them so much further in life. Darron’s latest thoughts are to get woman in the remote villages going on hand crank knitting machines. Many of them will spend weeks, if not months of endless hours, to make one large bag called a nokin.
Darron brought one home to show us. All of the guys in this video knew how to hand knit as children. Look at their joy, in this wonder machine.
We covet your prayers for Jacob and Nathaniel as we press on into a New Year. That they will continue to be led by the Lord and not fall into typical teenage ditches.
Two center of influence stores are just about to kick off. It is incredibly fun to catch the enthusiasm of the leaders and all those involved pulling them together. They asked if I would paint a picket fence mural. With extremely limited time this school break I had hoped to wipe out a big chunk of this project on Thursday. Working for two hours with an Indonesian friend, we were making significant progress on our wall painting. Disappointingly, our project took 5 steps backwards instead of 2 steps forwards. Ever had one of those kind of ditch days???!!! As I began to pull the masking tape off of our dried picket fence, the paint peeled down to the cement wall in such disrepair that I knew we had to stop and fix the root problem. The improperly painted base coat on the wall. My knight rescued me and put up leftover hardy board, along with his two knights in training.
Now I am just waiting for the mud to dry and be sanded, and we will be back to where I started on Thursday morning.
As I left the store that frustrating morning, I needed to turn the car around in the opposite direction to go home. My options were to pull into an alley to the left or the right and then back onto the main street. Opting for the alley on my left, I did something that I have dreaded doing the entire seven years we have lived here. Can you guess what it was? I FELL INTO A DITCH. BAM. I high centered the car perfectly. Both back wheels were off the ground in this wide deep cement corner ditch that I did not realize was there (for someone else had parked the car when borrowing it). I quickly turned the engine off. My dear husband was quickly by my side, along with half a dozen men that appeared out of nowhere, and in Papua fashion they lifted our car out of the ditch and I was on my way. Interesting that this real ditch was easier to navigate than the emotional ones.
Between Christmas and New Year that is what a piece of our life has contained. If I had to guess correctly you are navigating your own ditches. Hopefully as you cry out for wisdom you will be given insight that will keep you from falling into them. Yet, if for some reason you don’t even see the ditch and end up in it, may many hands come to rescue you out in Papua fashion. Sending much tropical warmth your way this holiday season.