I ran into an article on Facebook today posted by the Center for Intercultural Training. It instantly hit me just from the title as something I couldn't place my finger on, but that Valerie and I had bandied about without any satisfying success.
The title is "How pandemic isolation is like missionary life" and lists some similarities.
Seeing the title, I immediately sent it to Valerie. Not everything in the article would I say applies to all missionaries (of course) but the title alone was enough for me to have an aha moment.
I say that because seeing the reactions to being in a quarantine, lock down or shelter in place, from our friends in the USA, I have struggled to relate or empathize sometimes.
Our quarantine level has been fairly strict, and yet we are doing just fine as a family getting along, relating, staying busy, and honestly...not feeling anxiety or unease, any more than normal.
That last bit may explain some of my reaction. This new normal for families in the US in some respects reflects more of a decades long normal for us. Not leaving much in general, spending most of our time together, no access to many close leisure activities, friends only seen remotely or infrequently, unsure nature of access to foodstuffs, general insecurity/safety concerns, etc.
I share this mostly to let you know if you are reading this abroad and struggling with isolation and handling this new normal, that first you are not alone, and second...to say it can be done. Finding peace in this can be difficult, especially when it is all not by choice. We found a normal and way to work together...but over a period of years. (plus, we don't have toddlers anymore...another key factor in a quarantine)
We daily are prepared that loved ones can (and have) died, and we can't be there...that we can't share in experiences in person, etc. That is something we have accepted as a byproduct of what we do and where we are. You probably didn't choose that.
I don't have a platitude here to wrap up... there are no simple steps will make all this easy. Life isn't easy, we were not promised that either. Nor answers. Look for those wanting answers in the Bible, and how often they are satisfied. A lot of lamenting, for the lack of understanding and being able to see the plan...that, you do see. Ultimately...our only hope, only refuge, only strength, only security...is in God. Everything else can fail us, only God can save us...from or through every circumstance.
I am having a semi-normal day. Water trucks started heading by around 4:30, I hear mototaxis, some actual sales trucks for milk, juice, water (since stores are all closed except some pulperias and healthcare facilities) and patients are coming to the clinic.
Sometimes a normal day of paperwork in the office though can still break me inside though.
Someone had the good idea to use some of our Hill Climber coffee to gift it to all the employees that are still able to get here, thinking that it is something we can do to help them with the lack of being able to shop, not much, but something. Those in the clinic were so excited they made a party out of surprising each new person to come in the room with applause and a party like atmosphere.
Talking to Maria about a Milk Project child and their housing change, she let me know that the child's parents have separated, and so the siblings that came to us from that house are now in different neighborhoods, and that her sister that now lives far away often comes with lice, and that have several girls that help remove them on a regular basis.
And our clinic was consulted this morning about a patient that wants to use our ambulance to remove a loved one from the hospital to take them home so they can die there versus the hospital.
The life situations reflected there made me angry. I reacted, I asked God why does it have to be this way? I have the theological answer, but that doesn't always cut it for my heart. But, it does mean that instead of totally collapsing, I can keep going, but sometimes it still doesn't take away the heart sting.
Although, when I stop to write this down, I can also see those situations in a different light...gifting 20 pounds of coffee will impact probably 75 people or more, and brought way more joy than could have been predicted...being there for these girls and their family means ongoing opportunities to show, model, and express God's love for us, them, and other children in the project...and we are blessed to have an ambulance to help when people are in need, not to mention a clinic and staff that are here helping people in the face of a even more real lack of options recently.
Paraphrasing something I heard recently...sometimes you just have to do what you can, whether you think it is enough or not and let that talk you out of it...and sometimes you have to do just for one or a few, what you wish you could do for all.
Maybe in another few decades I will get that down. In the meantime, God keeps giving me, us, and the mission different opportunities to take those steps of faith and trust Him to bring it all around.
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