When Mother Theresa was asked what she thought caused the most suffering in the world, she replied ¨loneliness.¨ This may come as a surprise considering that she was consistently confronted with disease, hunger, and poverty, but when we reflect on the fact that we are here to enjoy each other´s company… fellowship that is… it is no surprise at all. What has surprised me is that I can feel lonely on a crowded bus, or surrounded by 80,000 people at a ballgame, or in a community where we receive neighborly visits on a daily basis. I suppose it´s because fellowship is not necessarily a physical presence but rather a form of communication… an intimate form intended to mold and deepen relationships and often one based on shared experiences. Having grown up with a strong foundation of blood family and church family, I regret having taken for granted many of these shared experiences and my subsequent failure to deepen many of these relationships. And I´ve come to realize that there is absolutely no substitute for the relationships that begin in childhood… relationships which are founded in common experience. Moreover, the relationships made working overseas, although no less genuine, can be difficult to deepen because of cultural and language barriers. If you haven´t guessed by now, we´re lonely! Be you friend or family, there is no substitute for you, and we miss you! Every time we go to the city, we anxiously check our email, hoping for some news, any news from ¨home.¨ Share your joys, prayer needs, the name of your new cat, anything. I haven´t exactly dove into the era of techy communication, but we hoped this blog would serve as one side of a dialogue, helping us to maintain and deepen relationships with our loved ones far away. And to those that have helped us stave off the loneliness by dropping a line now and then: Thank you! with Love,!
A tree is saved! Tremendous joy takes hold of me, a fabulous way to start Easter, I give thanks to the Lord, and am reminded of his awesomeness. It all started the afternoon before Easter… I was home alone in the house with Kalea as Alan went to harvest coconuts in a nearby farm over the hill from our house. It was said that a few trees were to be cut down on the property beside us. Let me interrupt the story here to describe this land. The adjacent property to me is a little piece of heaven…all trees, a sanctuary for birds, and at night, home to some small monkeys that almost peed on our heads as we peered over the
side of the balcony looking for them… I have only seen a couple trees cut down in my lifetime, and it was very strategic in the way that the trees were tied, and taken down limb by limb more or less. .. The man arrived a day earlier than expected to cut these trees….I thought only a few, but he seemed to be cutting one down after the other. I was overwhelmed with deep sadness…while I have always considered myself to be a tree hugger, this moment gave it new meaning. The sadness came from the thought of what took at least the same number of years as my lifetime or more to grow, was cut down timber style in a moments time. I watched some of the same trees fall that only a day earlier I watched my favorite bird perch. As the neighboring children watched in excitement and thought of it as a game to run from the towering 80 foot something tree drop… I´m not embarrassed to say, I cried! Ironically, the man cutting these trees, is the same man that we bought our wood from to build the house…I thought about this as I watched the other trees fall. The next morning, Easter Sunday, the man arrived early to finish the job… to cut my favorite tree to use as posts to fence the property. The tree that I think as of the cornerstone to my house, as it sits at a diagonal directly behind the house, a tree that I admire and enjoy its beauty every day. I told Alan that I thought about tying a sign to the tree “por favor salvame.” (Please save me) Alan responded with, “I´ll just talk with the man, it doesn´t hurt to ask.”
…The representative has begun to fulfill his promise about fixing our road and came to town yesterday with the legislator, the highest ranking government official in our province, to survey the task at hand and give us his promise. He visited our home and told us how to find him if we needed anything. I guess it doesn´t hurt to ask. When Nehemiah was trying to rebuild Jerusalem´s walls he asked, [¨If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king´s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?¨ And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests. Nehemiah 2:7-8] Couldn´t Nehemiah have just prayed to God for those things? Of course, but that would have relinquished the king of the joy of contributing; and it would have taken away the opportunity for Nehemiah and the king to strengthen their relationship through working together.
I suppose it is most difficult when someone is potentially harming me or doing something I don´t agree with, and I would never discourage prayer, but you won´t see me bowing me head and closing my eyes asking the Lord to deliver me from the physical suffering I´m enduring because you´re standing on my foot. I´ll let you know. So in the end, most of our neighbor´s beautiful little forest is still standing, and we were able to serve the laborer and his family Easter lunch and talk about the importance of this holy day.