Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Parachute Mountain

My 3-year-old son giggles beside me as we turn vibrant colors into waves, a shelter and a mountain. The faces of the 30 kids—yesterday stoic with shyness—crack with joy as they watch the parachute change shape in their hands.

We’d arrived the day before on an airplane flown by my husband—taking off from the noise and busyness of our small city on a tiny island, landing in a quiet village among the jungle mountains of Borneo. The plane vibrated to a stop on the dirt airstrip, carrying our team of women, children and one other husband, along with our supplies and ideas for the five-day kids club. We were excited to serve the 70 school-age kids in the village, having spent hours preparing games, crafts, stories and lessons.

I arrived humble, knowing that we, with our nine kids and five adults, would require village women to kneel beside wood-burning stoves to cook our food and boil our water.
No stores there meant no quick supplies for them. And the couple of generators available would only be used at night. Two of the women were pregnant—how would they manage to serve us when they could hardly bend over?

Then I saw the hard floors we’d be sleeping for four nights, the cramped quarters that would be our rooms, and remembered the cold water sitting in buckets that would be our “showers.” How would I manage with my two small children, as my husband took off in his lifeline of an airplane to go serve other remote villages?

I was in over my head, sinking in insecurity and questions and doubt. Was it worth it to serve these kids, when others would need to serve me? Was it wise to be in a village with no doctor, no hospital with my kids? Would I be able to handle my days when I spent my nights comforting my crying kids?

As I lived those days in the village—examining snails creeping along on the runway with my son; sleeping with him under the mosquito-tent in our room; going on walks behind elderly women heading to tend jungle rice fields; allowing women to care for my baby according to their own customs; enjoying the quiet of a life removed from technology (though still rather noisy with all those roosters and pigs)—I remembered the lessons God has taught me over the years of living in Indonesia.

No, this life we’ve chosen is not always wise, at least not according to the world’s wisdom. Yes, it’s worth it to serve and to learn to be served, surrendering pride for humility, knowing it’s not us—but the God in us—doing the work anyway. And as far as handling life, flying far away from my comfort zone, and doing it all on little sleep? God is ready to teach me, fill me, grow me, and change me.

One more time, I shout to the kids to raise the parachute together, then bring it down. We jump inside the shelter, smiling at each other under the rainbow-tent of colors. Back out, we make the waves, arms pumping, laughter rippling. Then up again and back down, hands forming the parachute-mountain in front of us to the sound of kids’ “oohs” and “aahs”—understood in any language. I tell some of them to climb the “mountain” and they climb and fall and laugh.

May I be like that parachute in God’s hands—sometimes changing with waves. Other times resting in His shelter. Always ready to climb His mountain, laughing like a child when I fall.

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