Mind-blowing. That we just celebrated the completion of our third year in Swaziland. Three years was our initial commitment. Three years is a short time. But it is also a long time.
It’s been enough time for us to get pretty solid at our siSwati. Some of you saw on Facebook that I posted Sean was speaking for over 30 minutes completely in siSwati with two neighbors. What?!?! What a fabulous way to celebrate our third year here!
It’s been enough time for me to relax and quit wearing skirts everywhere. Hah! Yah. When I visit people’s homesteads and go to church, I still wear my skirts and dresses, but when I’m at home, I feel comfortable to wear pants and even shorts. I quit the pretense that I’m a Swazi (as if I was fooling anyone) and decided that I’d be happier and healthier here if I didn’t load myself with the mental stress of always having to throw on a skirt before going outside. It’s a true assumption and has helped!
It’s been enough time for us to have a baby! And now a 7 month old. Who is rolling around in her crib as I type this.
It’s been enough time for our local grocery store to finally understand me. They don’t pack my product in individual plastic bags, or try to pack my bought items in bags, but anticipate, “Oh yes, you’ve brought your own bags.” And the staff doesn’t look at me weird when I speak siSwati. They reply, like it ain’t no thang. Cuz it aint. But at one time, it was!
It’s been enough time for a few breakdowns, and successes, failures, and extremely humbling moments. It’s been more than enough time for me to call this place home. For me to forget what life is like in the States.
I’m blessed to engage in a bible study with some expats here. We’re going through a Beth Moore study, so there’s a bi-monthly video we watch. This week’s video sparked some discussions, about how we live without a lot of expectation for our outward appearance here. “Who cares if you do your hair? No one’s even looking at it!” Most of the women shared how they rarely use make-up here, whereas in the States it was a daily event. We break “fashion rules” like socks with flip flops, and mis-matched outfits. Beth was talking about the fast-paced, impatient life. And we just all laughed. Yes, yes! We get impatient here, but it’s after waiting 3 weeks, not 3 minutes for our car to be fixed. We get impatient after we’ve looked in 6 grocery stores for parmesan cheese. Or no amount of calling can fix our phone service. Or when the car mechanic can’t tell you where you can buy extra lug nuts. Certainly, my level of patience has totally changed. Deepened you might say.
And I do say all of this because our Swaziversary marks the time when we need to start deciding how much longer we’re here. We’re committed through 2016, so we have at least 1 year more here. But our conversations, my meditations, and our hearts swirl with the question What now, Lord?
Carry on. Carry on living with your courageous Thor, beginning-to-be-mobile Cedar, your disorganized selves, and no-space-for-quiet-time one-room house. Carry on living in these round walls and grass roof that allows no one to sleep in if someone wakes early, or drops a pan. Carry on going to the bathroom without a door, in the same room you sleep, work, relax, feed your baby, eat dinner, and cook said dinner in.
Carry on in the garden. Carry on planting, fluffing soil, adding manure, watering, transplanting, harvesting, and processing. Carry on showing people how much food can be grown in a small space. With a little energy and planning.
Carry on answering our neighbor’s needs. But don’t carry on answering the door at 5 am because they’ve all learned by now, “If the door is shut, don’t bother them until they come outside.” Praise. The. Lord. My sanity can carry on!
Carry on seeking creative solutions to pervasive problems. Carry on with creativity and with-it-ness. Carry on doing 95% of our internet on old cell phones of friends, because our computer’s internet doesn’t work well.
Carry on dragging ourselves to church because it’s work. And it’s hard. And it’s lonely and discouraging somedays and it’s never a day “off” on Sunday. But just carry on because presence is important. Incarnation is powerful. And I love the singing. I love the pained expressions Sean and I exchange when our child is the loudest of all during singing. And I chuckle because she’s rolled off the blanket, and I’m hoping her dirt-stained limbs aren’t sporting the last home of a goat or cow’s recent bed… or worse…
Carry on with weekends away to refresh and remember who we were before we moved here. Remember who the Lord created us to be. The dreams He put on our heart that we’re actually blessed to be living.
Carry on with our dreams. Of grass-roofed houses. Learning other languages. Living simply. Living with our best friend. Having a daughter grow up in a second culture, as a minority.
Carry on living your dream. It is extremely hard, but incredibly worth it.