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Decisions in ParadiseApril 23, 2013
This decision to move to the South Seas – to pull a "Paul" as Dan calls it -- unfolds petal by petal, layer by layer, as each day passes. as people we know told us, sagely, living in a place is different than being a tourist. I love the passage, "Are you a tourist in your own life or a pilgrim?" I can't remember if I said it or some other author.
We could not have predicted at all the continual opportunities to meet, greet and connect, the many times people "pop in" for a visit. Dan's friendliness virtue is way stretched. The beauty of the island is stunning. The daily swims refreshing. The voices lifted in church each Sunday to make a joyful noise are thunderous and beautiful. They even have a "thunder hymn". The voices of the women then the men cascade over me like a huge waterfall.
We are anything but lazing on a hammock or lying on a beach. Although daily rest is imperative. We are constantly searching for food. Many people go to the shops each day, of which there are more than a half dozen and we are learning what to get from which and when, although it is unpredictable – when the brown seedy bread I love and the cheesy buns that are Dan's mainstay – will be delivered. Usually hot from the oven when they arrive on the shelves.
A kind shopkeeper has started texting me to "come quick, Mama", since the brown bread goes so fast. Only a dozen or so loaves are made a couple of times a week. And I refuse to be a hoarder. So we trundle around in our rented beater convertible nearly every day. Through new friendships we have found out where to get fresh fruit and vegies direct from the organic plantations. Such a fabulous find. Another errand, though a pleasant one.
And the word is out that we are Mama and Papa of The Virtues Project. A youth leader of the Girl Guides and her church youth group has approached me asking for training and other help. We immediately asked for the Virtues Connection in Rarotonga to send us a virtues poster in Cook Island Maori and English and are using them already. I often find myself companioning people about a loss or crossroad in their lives.
Someone approached me this morning about a painful child abuse issue which is the dark side of this lovely community. This and so many other things that have arisen in the five weeks we have been here, have brought me and Dan to an unaccustomed level of cooperative discernment and continual decision making. So we are more discerning, more consultative, more prayerful, and John's Vitamin T comes in very handy. Not only do we need to trust God and life itself, but our own frail selves in not second-guessing the decisions we are making. We must stand in responsibility for every choice. As we all do.
We chose a small, simple long term rental rather than a big fancy house that needed lots of work and gave us a grandiose idea about establishing a Virtues centre or a faith centre, which didn't stand scrutiny. We made a proposal on the smaller house so are awaiting whether or not the owner will accept it. The caretakers promised word by Monday, then today, but just had a death in the family so it may be days yet before we hear. Patience continues to court us like virgins.
And I am happy. Dan is content. This does feel, more and more, like a place where our gifts will be used, fully. And we need to forge boundaries to protect our pace of Grace. Yes, even here. As we keep learning, they will come.