Friday, July 04, 2008

the beauty of the Lord

I woke up this morning, at the ungodly hour of 6, and my heart was so full I couldn't get back to sleep. The phrase, "nothing compares to the beauty of the Lord" kept going through my mind. I got up and tried to post pictures from our great fishing adventure last night (I caught 2 Kings; Greg caught a King and a she-fish. Guess whose was the biggest?), but I'm still unable to do so. So I will try to capture some of the highlights of this week before our last day gets into full swing.

I've felt much more deeply connected to the village this year. Not just a visitor for the week (although, in reality, that's definitely what I am), but a friend. I could just be imagining things, but I really think I can see little seedlings sprouting up from seeds we've sown in years past. Relationships seem a bit more firmly established. The bridges of trust a little more reinforced than the year before. I know more people's names and could tell you where they live. I'm getting a grasp on who's related to who (well, pretty much the whole village is related in some way or another).

As I loaded my grungy clothes in the triple-loaded at the village laundromat yesterday, Jeannie plied me with questions (where do you live? Why do you come back to the village?) and introduced me to everyone who walked through the door.

"This is Shawn. She rode next to me on the plane two years ago when she first came to the village. They stay at the teen rec and play with the kids." She spoke with such warmth and enthusiasm I felt like we were life-long friend. In a village sort of way.

But for all the little sprouts I think I'm seeing, I became even more aware this week of how fragile relationships can be in this tiny community. Generally, the folks who live here are nice to us because we are friends with the missionaries. Most of them appreciate that we come to offer positive activities to their kids. But the river of prejudice still runs deep and several of us inadvertantly waded in those muddy waters this week. I had the very real sense that the stupid little things we say or do can trigger a flood of resentment and anger--which can easily drown the little seedlings of relationship and wash away the bridges of trust.

Greg got yelled at by a Native man who thought he was driving too fast up the main road. Tricia received a cold refusal when she asked to take a picture of two women working on their salmon catch. Locals wouldn't make eye contact or return our "hellos" as we sat at the new (and only) restaurant in the village, waiting for our burgers. No one offered us rides as we trudged up the hot and dusty road back to the teen rec after our lunch.

Kind of minor incidents, yet--but still a reminder that the relationships we are forming here are fragile and need to be nurtured in the love and wisdom of God. Speaking of relationships, my two favorite girls returned from camp yesterday and came bounding up to the rec to greet us.

I asked seven-year-old Josephine if she remembered me.

"Ya," she answered, grinning at me. "Last year, you said you would put me in a sack and take me back to Oregon with you--to swim in your pool!"

"Sack?" I said, momentarily puzzled. "Oh, I told you I wanted to put you in my suitcase and take you home with me--I remember now, you silly goose!"

And I'd still love to scoop you up and take you with me, sweet Josephine. Along with most of the precious kids in this village. But as the Lord allows, I'll keep coming back to your beautiful village and love you with everything Jesus puts in my heart.