New beginnings are good for it forces us to open our eyes, ears, senses, minds, hearts and take in everything that seems foreign and unknown. Creatively, we were made to adapt and grow and there is nothing like moving to push us out of our comfort zone and into this great “opportunity”. As we are almost one month into our new assignment, I like to call it the “gleaning phase”. Perhaps I am a bit old fashioned and like to relate to Ruth in the Bible. When she moved, she gleaned. She gathered all the left-over grain.
So, as I am being taken shopping, by many gracious women, I am gleaning from them. The best place to buy local food, and imported food, and this person’s preference over what this person has learned and liked. Gleaning. Gleaning requires learning much. For example, my entire life bananas have been one of the cheapest fruits. Believe me I am a banana-using-expert to the point that they have become a Boyd staple. Well right now, in Lebanon, bananas are one of the more expensive fruits. I need to learn to glean less bananas and more peaches, grapes, watermelon, apples, nectarines, cantaloupe and more (I know, it is a difficult problem). Also, I just came from a land where tofu was about .20 cents a block. Now it is $4.50 a block. Gleaning, what to eat more frequently, instead of tofu. My Lebanese neighbor has patiently taught me how to make local tabuli, falafels, and a delicious cucumber salad. It’s time to glean more local recipes.
We are also gleaning much information as we listen to people’s stories. Stories from years and years (well over a dozen) of living through a war, of people that have escaped war torn countries, of people who are trying to make a difference here. Hundreds of people with thousands of stories. We glean from this one and that and put it in our baskets. At night we take it out and examine them, as we try to make sense of what makes up our new world. This is a slow process and will take several years until we more fully understand what truly our new culture is made up of.
Language, new words, must be gleaned. One word mastered here and another one there. The veggies and fruits, at the local markets are all priced in Arabic. There is no escaping the gleaning language learning curve, it needs to be faced boldly or ignored. Yet there is no doubt that the gleaners who adapt as much as possible can harvest and connect just a little bit more. Even so, may our aging minds, stay pliable, willing and learn.
New gleaners are often like babies and need lots of attention and teaching. That is us. We tried catching an Uber the other day with 10, ten-liter bottles of water. The problem was, the Uber app said we needed to cross this long high crosswalk bridge and go over to the other side of multiple highways to catch our Uber. There was no effective, realistic, way to do this. Gratefully our Uber driver spotted us and managed to pull within a block of us. Shuffling bottles one block was much more doable than about three blocks (up and down stairs). All I could do was laugh at our pathetic new gleaner like phase. The laughter came probably because I was not the one carrying the bottles!!! New gleaning phase is repeatedly awkward and humbling as we know nothing from: buying data on our phones, to how to pay for the electricity, to what to do when the gas runs out on the oven, to how to buy a vehicle, to….
The gleaning phase takes much patience. After all we are just scooping up the leftovers. Many days feel that way as we navigate so much. Making new friends is exciting and yet takes patience to build all the things that old friends come with such as roots of history and reflection. Also, patience as we wait for things that we thought would happen sooner, like language school and purchasing a vehicle. The boys thought they would be able to leap right into helping others and getting connected into different projects, 3.5 weeks in, it is just beginning for them. Patience is a beautiful virtue and there is much to be gained from this enhancing factor of this phase.
New gleaning seasons also provide opportunities to spark new interests. I have suspected that I would be passionate about interacting with refugees. Moving here is allowing me to explore this. Last week I had the privilege of going on two home (health) visits to both an Iraqi and Syrian refugee home’s. My heart wells in compassion to these people who have come from impossible situations and are living in still almost impossible situations, with tiny glimmers of hope. They give me great perspective and much fruit to think about as I glean.
Perhaps you are not moving, but would like a new opportunity? A push, to get out of comfort zone and into gleaner mode? I would love for you to ask where are the fields that you may go glean in. Or perphaps you feel inspired to reach out to someone new in your community that is gleaning and could use a friendship, a new recipe, some new community navigating advice, or some encouragement. Truly the harvest is ripe, but the gleaners are few. Don’t pick the bananas, but would you gather up those luscious peaches left over there? Exciting things are ahead. The chapters just have not been written yet. Feel free to share your gleaning story, with mine, as you allow Him, to lead you. Let us change the fields around us. One row that needs to be gleaned at a time. It feels insignificant, but it is not. Oh. It. Is. Not.
*The words in italics have just a touch of sarcasm. A coping mechanism for this girl as she navigates different cultures.