In elementary school, I could rarely be found without a book in my hand. I read novels far above my grade level, and re-read the Harry Potter series half a dozen times. As school continued, however, and I became more involved with dance classes and the middle school social scene (what a joke that was), I read considerably less, and by high school, any reading I did was forced upon me. It was so delightful, therefore, to be drawn back into the web of literature and all the wonders of the written world over the last several months. Constant power outages contributed significantly to this development, as did my need for entertainment while everyone slept (Indian naptimes and American bedtimes often coincide).
Thanks to this newly acquired free time, I read an astonishing ten books in the last six months, and am well into my eleventh and twelfth (Middlemarch is beautiful, but monstrous!). Before you are too impressed, though, I must concede that a number of these were extremely easy reads, though nonetheless intriguing. Specifically, these were biographies published by ywam that highlight the incredible lives of the legends of modern missions: William Carey, Corrie Ten Boom, and Amy Carmichael, just to name a few. Reading through these stories of men and women who proclaimed the Good News around the world showed me that even though a year feels like a long time, this is still only a short-term missions trip. And as much as I have tried to adapt to the culture, I haven’t committed to it for the length of time that warrants using the great name of “missionary.” Until and unless God calls me to be so full-time, I will happily reserve that name for those who have a clear mission from God.
Reading these anecdotes, as well as writing my own for this blog and those of the children for the school’s newsletter, I am reminded me of the importance of stories. We are each vaguely aware of the internal dialogue happening within another person, but rarely, I find, do we seek that part out. The language barrier here has exacerbated this for me, since I am not able to ask any sort of meaningful question to those outside of campus, and so I have nearly stopped trying. I have become increasingly content to hear “bagonanu” (I’m fine.) instead of any explanation as to why or why not they are fine. When I do ask more personal questions, the answers are nearly always heart-breaking, involving sick family members, absent parents, stressful jobs and so on, but I suppose learning that bad things happen is an important part of growing up.
Another realization of growing up has been that working full-time is hard. It’s tiring, and it’s sometimes tedious. I am increasingly impressed with the adults in my life who do it without complaint, amid responsibilities that I haven’t even touched yet. As hard as school seems sometimes, I do look forward to the coming year when deadlines are decided only by a professor, and not the government or the bank. When the words I write will only be read by his or her eyes, and not dozens of sponsors. When I have two day weekends! For those of you who just finished finals, you may not want to hear that it will only get harder, but from where I stand, being in school among friends looks simply luxurious. Whatever you are facing though, I hope you can trust that God with strengthen and sustain you.
This blog has taken a few different turns, so I think I’ll round it out with a few of my favorite quotes from my most recent reads:
“But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo.” (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters)
“Every nerve and muscle in Rosamond was adjusted to the consciousness that she was being looked at. She was by nature an actress of parts that entered into her physique: she even acted her own character, and so well, that she did not know it to be precisely her own.” (George Eliot, Middlemarch)
“As for the tearful child, it was only an hour older, which just goes to show that, even though the clock would like to convince us otherwise, time is not the same for everyone.” (Jose Saramago, All the Names)
A fun update: I got to go to my first Indian wedding this week! Well, we actually only came to the second reception, but we were treated to some delicious food as fireworks crackled overhead, announcing the arrival of the bride and groom. They were adorned with gold, and honestly looked quite exhausted since the festivities started at 11 am, and it was now rounding 9 pm. With two villages in attendance, it was quite an event!