I have had an amazing time in a recent writing project workshop that I have been a part of. Having hours of time dedicated to personal writing has been an adventure that I simply wouldn’t have been ready for if it weren’t for the preparation that writing this blog has given me. I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I wanted to share the entire piece altogether.
One of the pieces I have been working on is a memoir of my time in Indonesia a few years ago. It all stemmed from one line in a poem we were assigned to write about love…
That is Love to Me…
The fact of the matter is that love is such a large concept. It can be a puzzling enigma, and yet so mind-blowingly simple all at the same time. It encompasses so much; yet transcends everything. I learned an invaluable lesson that day – love does not have a language that can be easily discerned with words. It is much more easily shown than spoken, a language of its’ very own…
To understand the depth that this lesson had on my heart, you have to know a little bit about me. I am afraid of A LOT of things. If I have never encountered it, think it might be a little difficult, or is challenging physically, my first reaction is to fear it. The unknown has always held a power over me that I not only wish that I could break, but really can’t explain. That is probably why people looked at me strangely when I said, “Sure – I’ll go on the trip to Indonesia. Sounds like fun!” In the back of my mind I was thinking, they will never take me seriously. But, much to my chagrin, they did and I found myself on the other side of the world, in a country where I couldn’t understand them and they couldn’t understand me (with words anyway).
Now…back to that lesson.
When we arrived in Indonesia, it was smack dab in the middle of rainy season. Rainy season in Indonesia means HOT, steamy really; WET, more rain that I have ever seen in my entire life almost every single day; and MUDDY, a thicker, slimier mud than I have ever seen before and I haven’t experienced since. This mud was slippery – it almost felt like the clay you use for pottery when you put way too much water in it and it slips out of your hands. Imagine that, but only that mud is sliding between your toes and under your feet so that you are slipping and sliding instead of having any kind of confidence to stand.
Did I mention that I have an issue with confidence? I’ve never been very graceful, so it doesn’t take much to take me down and I thought sure that this mud was going to do it AT LEAST once during this trip and I was TERRIFIED. I was afraid that I would get hurt – after all, the bigger they are, the harder they fall – right? Did I mention that I was in a place where there was no doctor or medical care at all really and the nearest access was a plane ride away? Sure, there was a way to care for needs while we were there, but it wouldn’t have been like what would have happened if I were in America. I also tend to be a “worst case scenario” girl. If something could happen, I’ve gone through a thousand of the worst possible things that could happen if it does…
I still haven’t gotten to that lesson yet, have I?
We were to attend church in Pugima that day. Pugima was about an hour away from where the Missionary couple that we were working with lived. So, we all piled into the hardtop jeep with a giant trailer on the back in our church clothes and off we went on what turned out to be one of the best adventures and biggest lessons of my journey.
We had walked approximately a mile down a very bumpy, dirt road with lots of holes in it to get to the small church in the Indonesian countryside. Beautiful fields of lush greens surrounded it. As soon as we were within their sight, you could hear them begin to shout “Pagi, pagi, pagi” to welcome us. Pagi is their greeting that is tantamount to us saying “Hello” or “How are you?”.
While we were in the service, you guessed it – IT RAINED!!! We walked out to begin the journey back to the jeep and we encountered that slippery, slimy mud that I described earlier. I was petrified that I would fall flat on my face and not be able to make it back to the vehicle.
I was clearly struggling to stay on my feet. I hadn’t fallen yet, but I was certain that I would eventually. But, I learned that day the power of a simple gesture – one that would teach me that love did not require words, it merely required someone who was willing to reach out and encourage another who needed it.
I have no idea who he was, and we will probably not meet again this side of Heaven, but a man from the village we attended church in came up beside me and gave me his hand. He simply looked at me and I knew he was there to help. Then, before I knew it, someone from my team came up on my other side and grabbed my other hand. The trip was much more arduous for me than it had been at the beginning, but all along the way, Matt – the guy on my team who was such an incredible encouragement to me that day – shared a story with me. He said it was a story about confidence and it turned out to be Habakkuk – the book in the Bible. Though a specific verse from that book has become a life verse for me as I continue to learn what it means to be confident, what made an indelible impression that day was the commitment of two people to walk a mile with me, holding my hands, and helping me stand when I couldn’t have done it on my own. That action required no words. We didn’t have to speak the same language. We didn’t have to come from the same culture. It was at its very core the essence of the thing that we all seek to understand.
That is love to me…
“And the Sovereign Lord is my strength. He makes me surefooted as the deer. He enables me to tread upon the heights.”