Do you ever stop and ponder the circumstances of your life? Do you wonder why things happen a particular way? I do! It is often in hindsight, however, that circumstances seem to make a little more sense.
As we live in this place seeking to display Him and His love to those we interact with each day, circumstances don’t always make sense. We see this community through eyes so culturally different from most of our neighbours, that we rarely understand the forces and complexities of situations. We see heart breaking things that make us want to put mattresses on the floor of our house for all in need to come and be safe. We struggle to see how God could use us to make a difference for Him in the midst of doing life here. But then circumstances unfold that make us stop and praise Him for His faithfulness and for allowing us to be a part of His plan for the people of Numbulwar.
A few weeks ago, I (Kim) had reason to speak firmly to an older indigenous lady as part of my role at playgroup. Rules were being broken and the future of playgroup was in jeopardy because of it. My fellow indigenous staff were reluctant to address this breaking of the rules due to a multitude of cultural complications that I don’t truly understand. She was their elder, family member, or even a poison cousin. Somehow I knew it was going to be me who addressed the issue. When we spoke, she understood what I was saying but was certainly not happy. She left playgroup and didn’t return that day. I felt terrible. Language and cultural differences mean that I often second guess my words and actions as I never quite know how clearly I have communicated what I wanted to say. But here was a lady I hadn’t met before and her first interaction with me was on the negative side. I imagined her calling me the grumpy white lady! So I went back inside feeling terrible… while my fellow staff members clapped for me. I was confused. And then suddenly the explanations poured out. They knew something needed to be said but didn’t know how to say it themselves and were afraid of the repercussions that may come their way. They were so glad I had done it for them, as they believed it was okay for me as I’m not as connected to their families.
I couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness that my interaction with this lady had been a negative one. I prayed that God would help me mend this relationship if an opportunity ever came my way. Later that day I saw the lady down the street and she refused to say hello as she passed by. I felt even worse, but trusted that God could fix things if it was needed. The next day I heard someone outside our front door yelling for our attention. (This is the equivalent of a knock on the door.) There were two ladies standing on the steps, one of whom was the lady I had spoken with the previous day. She was here to find out about booking a flight for some members of her family. Jason was flying and Rachel was away so I became the MAF booking facility for Numbulwar for that morning. So we sat on the front steps with the lap top on my knee as we looked at the schedule, talked about prices and who would be travelling, and all the while I was just praising Him that He answers our prayers and that I was able to relate to this lady as more than just the grumpy white lady, as I helped her by booking in this flight.
One more story.
Jason has developed a love for fishing! He loves providing food for our meals, he loves being out in the boat and he loves the fact that there is always another type or size of fish to be caught. I enjoy fishing and being out in the boat, but at this time of year it is hot! HOT! So hot that sweat doesn’t trickle down your back, but pours like a waterfall. So hot that your eyelashes mesh together with sweat and salt, just from the slightest activity. I enjoy fishing, but at this time of year I love air conditioning more!
Last Sunday as we dripped and fanned our way through church, I wondered if Jason would want to go fishing in the afternoon. I thought he probably would and I knew I didn’t want to be today’s fishing buddy. I wondered if perhaps our church minister (an older indigenous man) might want to go with him. At the end of the service I suggested my idea to Jason and he told me he had been thinking the same thing. We left church with the fishing date arranged for later that afternoon for Jason, the minister and his grandsons.
They went fishing, tried various spots, the minister caught two good sized fish, one grandson got seasick and vomited over the side of the boat and home they came. Jason had fun, but he said there wasn’t very much conversation between them all. He also wasn’t sure why the minister wasn’t more directive about where he wanted to go to fish, he seemed happy to go with Jason’s suggestions. Was that okay? He wasn’t sure, but he got to go fishing so he was happy.
Several days later we were having dinner with Ruth, the CMS missionary who works with the church here, when she shed some light on Jason’s fishing trip. The minister and his family (wife, daughter and several grandkids) had lost their card that they use for banking and so had not been able to buy food for some time. (Most food here is bought and eaten on the same day… well stocked pantries aren’t common.) So the minister had told Ruth how glad he was for the chance to go fishing with Jason as it allowed his family to eat last Sunday from the two fish that he had caught. If he hadn’t gone fishing they probably would have gone hungry for another day. We were humbled again to see just one more little way that God is using us here in Numbulwar, by helping this man feed his family. God was providing for this man, probably answering his prayers for help, using our boat and Jason’s time. Thank you Father God!