Archives for the month of: April, 2013

Oh dear one – if you get a chance could you please read the blog again. It wasn’t a plea for sympathy, it wasn’t intended to hurt the hearts of those who care for us by pointing fingers at those who may not seem to. It wasn’t any of those things. It was a story- a picture – you tell me that you see in pictures remember!  It was our story- our picture. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Some of it is a true story, some of it is imagined, complete with monsters under the bed!  Isolation, fatigue, heatstroke, and discouragement can make you  feel and or imagine all manner of things. But all of it is a lived story. Lived by us here on the dusty streets of Mahalaype, far from family and home. Grasping and  groping for context and meaning. God is my strong tower. Are we not at bedrock (Ps 18).  It is just an account of how it felt – not a head count of readers and non readers. A new journey always goes through some dark places. I’m not the kind of person to clean it up and just tell the pretty parts. Maybe I take too much liberty when I read the Psalms and see myself in David’s stories. Psalm 40: 9,10 The Message (sorry) "I’ve preached You to the whole congregation, I’ve kept back nothing – you know that, I didn’t keep the news of your ways a secret, didn’t keep it to myself  (even though it’s pretty bad publicity for other 57 something’s thinking about a similar stint) I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough. I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth for myself alone. I told it all, let the congregation know the whole story."  If you only knew how I fought with God; how He wanted to birth it on paper – paint the picture – using words, but I resisted. “I’ll be misunderstood, accused of feeling sorry for myself seen as trying to guilt the gentle ones who just like to look at nice pictures. It will hurt Lord!!! They will call me a fool, a whining fool "you asked for this" they will say "so what’s with this belly aching?” But some will look below the surface, gaze long into the colours and remember "He is no fool…"

There are many ways to do the same thing. The God who has created  a million shades of green surely doesn’t send emissaries in one way only. I don’t believe Peace Corps is  the wave of the future of missions — even without my bad publicity!

But there is an interesting response, even in a poor country when you tell people  "I don’t have a home in the U.S. I don’t own a car in the States. I sold them and gave away many of our belongings. I didn’t ship them here in barrels – didn’t come with funds to outfit us here.”  All of this is God’s story. Not his only story for sure. I know it ends well, but the living of it has to be done, and there are days that it hurts really bad. Its just the unvarnished truth; the un-retouched photo. "I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth for myself alone."

Love to you for your care and support – you are awesome – please don’t feel guilty, for you have no need.

Elsa

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Having turned the calendar to April the Shavers prepare to circle one year in Africa. We have past both our birthdays and an anniversary and are closing in on them again. First Christmas and now first Easter are milestones added to the list. It has been a year of incredible growth, stretching, disappointments, loneliness, regret, and rejoicing. There has been the gamut of emotions, run some days like a zipper pulling up and down, up and down. Yet God… He is faithful in high spirits and in low; in joy and in sorrow. Many days we fail to see the vast adventure that others back home seem to romanticize we are on! Many days we feel quite forgotten by home. Often we have found ourselves nearly drowning in self pity, hanging on to this “adventure” by a mere thread. There is some space between the two: “I’m inspired by your service” BUT “tone down the details of your service because it is quite foreign to me -that world of HIV/AIDS.

We have taken a break from the blog and pictures for two polar opposite reasons: 1.Blogging seemed ultra self serving  2. Few seemed to be reading about our life here. Only 3 people read our posts – one was me and the other two were our children! Self aggrandizement and self pity! How to strike the balance alludes us. Yet as day 365 draws near we felt compelled to mark it in some written way ( for our three readers—ok -two readers; I guess proof reading doesn’t really count ) Hence this entry which serves as a bit of explanation for why our didactic pens have fallen silent but how a different blog is dawning. And that is a photo journal. 365 days in the Peace Corps, an idea we stole from Lee, who maybe stole it from someone else!

There are days we feel like we are on the spin cycle of our washer — which of course we don’t own anymore! The hippie proverb “you bought the ticket now take the ride” is tossed around PCV’S here a lot – we in fact quote it to one another some days. So we are going – Lord willing – for another 365 days or so on the spin cycle. We’ll stretch and shrink and other laundry analogies; but we’ll survive and maybe even come out cleaner. A washing machine is harsh, but not lethal. And this time the journal is for us as much as anyone – which is probably the best of all reasons. We will have recorded our life in the dailies and have it set down forever.

At Close Of Service, part of  the training all PCV’S receive is how to tell the 27 month story in under 8 minutes. That’s been shown to be the average attention span the RPCV can anticipate. It’s not meant to be discouraging, just create an realistic expectation for re-entry into America. However, it takes most of us 27 months to come to terms with that expectation! If you’ve lived abroad for an extended time; separated from family and familiar, you know that at day 365 you had not begun to scratch the surface of your journey and the accompanying emotions. A two year stint abroad is a picnic in comparison; and we agree. None the less, with the paging flipped to April, we’ve opened the basket and have begun peering in at the contents!

Elsa