Way back in the 80’s and 90’s, we lived in Honduras for eight years, the last six on Roatan, one of the Bay Islands that divers flock to from all over the world. Vacationing there is fabulous, but living and working in “paradise” was a different scene.
When we moved there, communication was by marine radio (“Cornerstone” was our call sign) and we traveled over coral rubble by public “chicken bus” or on our used motorcycle with no shocks. Because of ruts from heavy rains, people drove on the smoothest part of the road (“smooth” is euphemistic), no matter which side. Every time we rounded a bend, I clung on the back of the motorcycle, sure we’d meet a car or bus head-on. At the entrance to town, a local carpenter displayed a hand-painted sign: “We make coffins.” I fully expected his services to be required one day, when I was splatted on the road. Nevertheless, I survived the other drivers as well as the bone-grinding bumps.
The first time I went to town to shop I burst into tears at the price of food on the Central American island. I learned to poke my head into any nook where someone might sell something edible, and to wait at the dock for the boat from the mainland with fresh carrots, tomatoes and cabbage.
Basics were available at Casa Warren in Coxen Hole, most of the time. Sugar would disappear about four months before Christmas. (I was told someone hoarded it to drive up prices before Christmas baking. I learned to stock up in September, if I could afford it.)
One year, flour was in such short supply that small bakers went out of business. When flour started trickling into the country, only registered bakers could buy it. Another time, no ketchup or canned tomato products were available for months.
I would drive two “towns” away for eggs. When the chickens molted and didn’t produce eggs, the farmer was forced to sell them as stewing hens. (He couldn’t afford to feed them when they weren’t producing.) We went without eggs until his next generation of chickens were laying again.
There was no fast food or prepared food, so meal prep was a long process, and clean-up seemed just about as long.
It’s been years since we left, but I still smile when I turn on the dishwasher and hear the purr of the machine working for me.
That is leading me to the point of all of this. Though we made wonderful friends (Hondurans are very genial people), witnessed miracles and experienced enough for a life-time of wonderful memories, there were hard times, especially in the last couple of years.
Our EMS service, air ambulance and decompression chamber treating Miskito divers ran us 24/7, our son struggled to learn, and our daughter encountered social stresses that worried me. With growing health problems, I began to sink.
A visitor gave me a Twila Paris tape, with a song I played song over and over, for weeks, until I could finally say, “Yes. I trust you, Lord.”
We heard a reading today about Abraham taking his son Isaac to the mountain, obeying God and ready to sacrifice Isaac. I’ve had different reactions to the story, but today I’m struck with Abraham’s age when he finally had the promised son — way beyond child-bearing years for himself and his wife. Did it take that long because Abraham wouldn’t be able to say, “Yes,” until then?
Last week, in “Where do I Go?” I shared my burden of heartache for people I love. I encouraged myself, and you, to draw near to God.
Afterward, I wondered how many readers replied, “How?”
How do I say “Yes” to God? Will the road be as long as Abraham’s waiting for the heir to God’s promises?
I may wail, but then, like David, I remember. I recall what I’ve seen God do in my life in the past, and what I am certain he has promised.
“A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, “Will I ever make it—arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears—tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
These are the things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life. . . .
Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.
When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.” Psalm 42:1-6 The Message
That leads me to open my eyes to God’s “Yes” all around me. Right now.
“Yes!” because I have clean water, appliances to work for me, air conditioning, a roof that doesn’t leak and screens to keep out mosquitoes, easy to prepare food, and a refrigerator with electricity that will run day and night. I have friends and family that really love me. My broken hand is healing. My brother got a thumbs up from the cancer center. . . .
Every time the sun rises, the cardinal pair calls to each other, an orchid blooms, or cumulus clouds rise in the summer heat to bundle into beautiful rain clouds, God is saying “Yes!” Every time I hear my grandson sing to himself, or my granddaughter giggle with delight as she jumps on the trampoline, every time I connect with my daughter in Switzerland and another in New Jersey on cell phones, and we walk our dogs together, I feel God’s “Yes.” Every time I see my son cradle his daughter in the safety of his arms, or am cradled in the safety of my husband’s arms, I feel God’s “Yes.”
Look around you. Seek God’s “Yes!” for you.
What do you see?
4 thoughts on “Do I trust you?”
Brings back memories for me too. Our three years in Haiti were not so primitive as Jane’s and Dani’s experiences, but we hand no fancy kitchen appliances and had to treat our water with clorox or suffer the Haitian complaint. No phone and often no lights. Some of my fondest memories.
It is interesting how many people look back on lean/hard circumstances with fondness. For me, I think the simplicity of that lifestyle may be one of the reasons. Not so many choices, so many directions to go, so much calling for our time, energy and attention. Just surviving, and trying to bless.
Oh, yes! When we first moved to Honduras, we crammed in with another family. When we found our own place to rent, it was four months before our things arrived from the states. Friends loaned us a few things and we made do with a kerosene burner made from a large can (and I found out I’m allergic to kerosene) and an ice chest. We each had a fork, but just one knife that we would pass around the table as needed. The table was a little coffee table splattered with paint that someone had left in the house. Our son was one, so washing cloth diapers by hand was a big part of my day. And anyone who has ever washed bedsheets on a washboard appreciates a washing machine forever!
Taking away the “stuff” or ease of life can focus our eyes on what really matters–but that response is always our choice. Some coming out of that situation vow never to be poor again, and getting things becomes more important than people. Or God.
I already know from reading your blog, Blooming Spiders, that your priorities are in the right place, Dani. And that choice makes you a blessing.
I completely identify with this, Jane. I remember when R and I had recently moved to Brasil. We slept on the floor for three months waiting for our possessions to complete their sea voyage. And I washed all dishes and clothes by hand since convenience appliances were too expensive. Our apartment was the size of a tic-tac and one couldn’t breathe too hard at one end without it being an annoyance at the other. But I learned so much during that time. And I assure you…I treasure my treasures. Now I just know who (and not what) they are.