Friday, June 21, 2013

If these walls could speak...

4 years ago, Rachel and I rolled sunshine yellow over the white base coat of these concrete walls. And just like that, apartment #202 became my home...

my sanctuary.
a refuge.
a church.
a breakfast diner.
a movie theatre.
a dance club.
a nursery.

where new friends became family.
where smells of tropical fruit juice lingered.
where dusty bare feet found a resting place.

As I've dismounted my paintings from the walls, sorted through storage boxes, and selected couch pillows, sentimental mugs and books to pack in my suitcase, I've had plenty of time to reflect on my days spent here. And I've realized that this home has become more than just a shelter, but one of my dearest friends. I've developed an unexpected companionship with these walls as they've silently stood by in my highest celebrations and deepest defeats. These are the walls I've returned to time and time again after days of teaching, hikes to the mountains, long city trips, or months of being with family in Canada.

Through the day ins and day outs, they have developed character just like me. Each nick and scratch has a story to tell... Jagged cement cracks that mark January 12. Oil splatters on the kitchen walls from nights around the kitchen table with neighbours feasting on Bernard's famous pate. A rat-sized hole in the front window screen from that fateful midnight invasion. Purple nail polish drops on the tile floor from girls nights with Teagan and the Rumford sisters. Countless 4x6 frames perched as beautiful reminders of days gone by, and the seasons of people and stories I've been blessed to witness within these walls.

And if they could speak, they would tell of weary girls sprawled on cold kitchen tiles debriefing their days. They would tell of burnt cookies and loud music and dancing on the balcony. They would tell of tears and whispers and long hugs on a red velvet couch. They would tell of early morning sunrise light pouring in on wrinkled bedsheets and acoustic string songs.

... I grieve the day that my squeaky screen door closes for the last time, for behind it lie these stories - memories and laughter, music and tears that I could never forget. With them, a piece of my heart lingers.

But rather than cling to this earthly dwelling which will someday turn back to dust, with each step away, I pray that I may to echo the words of David: Who am I, O Lord, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far? (2 Samuel 6:18). Indeed, He built me this home, and the heartwarming surroundings of colour, laughter and calmness came only from His hand. Underserved, yet lavished upon me anyways. To Him be the glory for his gifts of love, and His faithful presence that resides with us forever.

Maybe someday these walls will speak, and they will testify the Lord's favour and presence that filled them. But until these rocks cry out, I pray that I will recount His goodness daily, proclaiming that He alone is a refuge and a sanctuary for those who wait on Him.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

He meets me here.


Here, it's a season of thundershower evenings. A season when avocados, kineps and grenadia fruits (to name a few) grow in size and abundance... And so has the buzz around this campus. We've recently accumulated over 20 interns on the scene to assist with the hundred-plus team members visiting weekly in the next 2 months. It's exam time for our students, and soon graduation will wrap the year up with a bow and bring on the highly-anticipated VBS-palooza. Kids from the mountains to the coast will be swept into a flurry of sweaty silliness and gospel love. It's awesome. Not to mention our church advancement team, orphanage activities, and mobile clinics that are on the brink of new programs and big strides toward life transformation. Naturally, these also bring new summer staff and first-time full-timers merging into the action with ready hearts to pour out and serve.

This season, there is newness and acceleration happening just about everywhere you go. It's exciting and spreading rapidly across this campus, creating a current of passion, and drawing people in.

But for me, it's a different kind of season. My days, no matter how much I try to pack them full with fractions and vowel blending, guitar jamming next door, 3cord visiting, goat-trailing to mountain family sing-a-longs, smoothie sharing with neighbours, baby talking and report card editing, aren't going to last forever. With each passing day, I become increasingly aware that I'm not gearing up like the rest of this place. As much as my heart longs to fit in alongside these dear people and their upcoming plans, it's not the same as it used to be. The farewell gets a little bit more real everyday, and I feel my direction veering.

It's an awkward place. It's a foreign disconnect between my head and my heart. Because I want to belong and resonate here, but lately there hasn't been the same familiar connection.

And yet even in the discomfort of unknown whys and hows, He meets me here. He quiets my spinning thoughts with His love in the morning light that breaks over the backyard mountains. Yes, each day here is a gift! And He rejoices over me with lullabies in the flickering lightning over Port-au-Prince. He reminds me of His care in the dear ones who listen with eyes full of acceptance, even when I struggle to express the complexities happening in my head. His promises awaken me to new truth and trust as I tread on these new waters. And it's good. I hold my breath with each new step I must take, but His firm foundation holds me faithfully with every release.

Thank you for your prayers. That I may finish the year strong with my boys. That the hours in each day would slow enough for me to seize moments and breathe in the blessings of each God-given moment. And that I would find peace in whatever mix tomorrow brings.

I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statues and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people and I will be your God.  
~ Ezekiel 36:26-28

Sunday, June 2, 2013

These days,

These days, my fingers type a little slower on the keyboard. My thoughts and emotions tumble on a lower setting as I absorb my gradual release to this place. I know so many of you have been lifting me up and are curious about where I'm at, and what comes next. Thank you for your interest combined with sweet encouragement and understanding.
It's been a struggle to find words parallel to the feelings in my heart.

These days, I wake up a little earlier just to have an extra 10 minutes to sit still in my classroom until the boys arrive. I cherish every random question, every giggle, every boyish quirk I have with them, and grieve the day we will say goodbye.

These days, I call Mary Maude just to hear her chatter. I hold hands a little tighter with the Hope House kids. I make my market list a little longer just to savour the goodness of Haitian fruits for a few more weeks. I gather up barrettes and dinky cars to distribute as love gifts to those I will miss dearly.

These days, I purge bookshelves and find myself (hours later) buried in stacks of old letters and school planners, reminiscing and marvelling at each season of life in this place. I strategically pack suitcases with books and treasures gifted to me by past students and friends. I give my Christmas box and wall art to the girls next door. I wonder how much it would cost to ship my weathered velvet couch back to Wainfleet... I think I'm too sentimental for my own good.

These days, I dream about where I'll be a year from now. I get excited when Broc sends me Kijiji car ad links. I revel in the thought of being home to watch the leaves change this fall. I eagerly anticipate the moments that I get to soon spend with those who are held up by magnets on my fridge.

These days, I stand on the promise that it is in Him that we live and move and have our being. That even though my life may feel stretched and pulled and forever in a tension of where I belong, that it is Him who holds me together and keeps me rooted. These days, I covet your prayers as I spend one more month surrounded by rolling mountains and evening thunderstorms that take my breath away, Creole conversations and dear neighbours that keep my heart full, and a Father who quiets me with His love. May I live every day to it's fullest until it's time to say goodbye.