Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ahhh, the simple life

La vida sencilla

Ahhhh the simple life. The mission got a little sidetracked. The mission was interrupted for 10 weeks because Dianne was inflicted with an unusually bad case of Chikungunya.  Most people have it for 7-10 days and that’s it. Its name is of African origin and means, walking stooped over. I had it for about 8 days and that’s what it is like, the pain in my joints had me stooped over. For Dianne almost all the symptoms went away except for the joint pain. We ended up back in the U.S. so she could be checked out thoroughly after she put up with this pain from the middle of November till the New Year. Long story short she was tested for everything under the sun and it came back as a severe case of Chikungunya. After 10 weeks of rest in the U.S. she is improving. The pain is not gone but it’s more manageable for her. Being the way she is, she’s tried to fight through this but with this joint pain, that doesn’t work. The Dr. said it could be one to two more months. To her credit she’s decided to return to the mission and just let it play out. The Doctor said the reason her case was so bad is because she is a “delicate flower” but that said her dedication is inspiring, she has more than enough reason to stay home longer but she may look like a delicate flower but that’s far from the case.
So we landed in El Salvador on March 15th. Our 2nd year Anniversary of the mission was March 4th and in a way the interruption was a good thing although the reason was not good at all. An interruption like this gave us time to reflect on what we have learned. One thing we learned is that we like the simple life of El Maizal. It’s not easy but it’s simpler.

One observation is that this simple life is addicting. Remember, we live in los campos (the country). It’s not remotely like the big cities of El Salvador. At 6-7 PM this community and the surrounding communities are finishing supper and preparing for bed. It’s nice and quiet. Even during the day it’s quiet. There are the buses and cars on the main road but they aren’t that loud. We mostly notice the chickens clucking along as they graze, the many beautifully colored birds talking back and forth to each other and the chatter of kids playing and adults talking. Vida esta tranquilo (life is tranquil)
Life is simpler because most decisions are made sensibly and prudently. We initially found ourselves shaking our heads in disbelief in some decisions but we were normally proved wrong. We forget that all the tools and supplies that we have at our fingertips at home don’t normally exist here. People improvise here all the time and they are very good at it and since they are used to it, they don’t get flustered as easy as we would.

We also find it simpler because we rest more, not because we can but because we must. For a while we were in the full march mode, we must be productive at all times and be available 24/7. But that’s a quick way of making service to God become a grind. That’s not conducive to living the message of our Lord and Savior because you forget to see Jesus in everyone you meet. Well intentioned friends or strangers become impediments to results. You also don’t connect to God in prayer or studying scripture as purposely as you should. You can forget to accompany people with a smile and calming words about life and faith. After all that is what mission is about first and foremost, accompany people as their brothers and sisters in Christ.

The other noticeable thing that simplifies life is that literally all plans are not set in stone. We’ve experienced so many plans that get either cancelled or changed at a moment’s notice that now we expect it. I’m not saying it didn’t drive us crazy and that on occasion it still does but remember decisions are made sensibly so if something comes up more important, things change immediately. They don’t imprison themselves in a system that requires that you sometimes put more emphasis on maintaining a schedule versus addressing an immediate need. In fairness to my North American friends the complexity and difficulty of daily lives here create more emergencies than in the U.S. so it’s much easier to maintain schedules in the states. There’s a relaxing effect to life when you can shrug off changes and reschedule meetings and move along instead of being aggravated and feeling inconvenienced.
Our advice based on what we have learned is that we need to remember to relax and rest sometimes. If you’re the type of person that must have a daily plan then put rest into the plan.

Mark 6:31 - Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

En la paz de Dios

Tomas y Dianna

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Writers Block

Allow me to start by giving my apologies for being an absentee blogger. I can't believe I haven't blogged for over 5 months. I've posted lots of pictures and stories to Facebook but the blogging, well I just wasn't feeling it. I had started 3 different blogs but never finished them and ended up deleting them. I had a case of writers block.

That said; let’s see if number 4 is the charm.

Being so far from home unfortunately has not shielded us from the unrest, racial tensions and just general lack of faith in some institutions (our police forces and government) in our beloved country. I’m not na├»ve enough to think that these issues are just a passing thing or that they are unjustified. But, as many have and should point out (I’ll get to it also) that we can’t focus or look at our differences if we think we are going to solve these problems together.

Let me share a couple of situations that caused me to step back and think.

We recently had a new well built in our community by Living Waters International because of the generous donations of New Song Church of Prairieville, Louisiana. A group of their parishioners including their pastor came down to help in the construction. They worked hard in this Salvadoran heat ( to bring a constant supply of clean water to El Maizal. They were as pleasant as could be to the people of our community, especially the children and thanked us over and over again for our sacrifice as missionaries. I never heard them complain about anything even though for most of them it was the 1st time they’ve ever been to El Salvador and trust me there are things to complain about in El Salv………, never mind. But do you get my point, what a great group of people. By the way they are Methodists.

So what do I do? One night I go online and look up Methodists because I want to know what they are about. I start reading and I’m thinking OK, I like that, Hmmmmmmm, I don’t know about that and it continues until a light goes off in this cavernous head of mine. TOM, you already know what Methodists are. They are pleasant, hardworking people who are willing to sacrifice time and money for others, they don’t complain, they appreciate the sacrifice of others before their own sacrifice and they do it all in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why was I looking them up and reading about their faith putting my own judgment on their belief system and if I continued possibly putting those judgments onto them??? Because, I wasn’t recognizing what was right in front of me. They are who they are, described by the way they practice their faith through actions.  THAT’S WHO METHODISTS ARE!!

Now then, I’m glad I caught myself on that. So then, poor Dianne has been sick for almost 7 weeks now. She started with Chikungunya whose fever left after a week but the constant body pain continued, then the fever came back and she was diagnosed with a bladder infection. She’s not a good patient because she hates not being able to help out but the only solution is constant rest. Sooooooooo, where am I going with this? We have a dear friend who works near our house every day. When she became aware of Dianne’s health problems she volunteered to wash our clothes for us. I offered to pay her but she refused, she said we are friends, paying her would be an insult.  So she comes twice a week and washed our clothes by hand. I pitifully help but she does most of the work. Keep in mind her days start at 4 AM, so she can wash her own clothes, cook breakfast for the family, get her family going for the day, she goes to work for 4 or 5 hours till noon. Takes a 2 or 3 hour break (after making lunch) and then comes to do back breaking work at our house. By the way she’s a Jehovah Witness.
Soooo, we all know that feeling when we hear Jehovah Witness (no Christmas, no Halloween, no celebrations, what the heck). But that wasn’t enough for me, I had to go online and see what she and her faith were about. I started reading and was thinking, I don’t know about this, this sounds kind of crazy to me when the light bulb went off again. TOM, WHAT ARE YOU DOING????????? You know what a Jehovah Witness is. They are the type of people who put their own comforts aside for their family, they work endlessly to keep their lives and the lives of their families going smooth and when they are exhausted from a long hard day, they sacrifice even more for friends.  She was doing in the name of her Lord. Why was I reading about them only reinforcing the stereotype I had in my head????? I already knew by witnessing with my own eyes what a Jehovah Witness was. They are who they are, described by the way they practice their faith through actions (sound familiar). THAT’S WHO JEHOVAH’S ARE!!

For a guy who reads the Letter of James at least every couple of months, you’d think I’d get it by now. So here I was amongst great people doing great things in the name of God and twice I fell into the trap. Was it my Tempter (if you don’t get that reference read the Screw tape Letters by C.S. Lewis, ASAP). I was looking at our differences. Thanks be to God, I caught myself those times but will I next? As my Jehovah friend pointed out once as we did wash together “Tom, humans are imperfect” (Can I get an AMEN).

Let me try to pull this all together. Looking for and recognizing the differences between us, is a real fast way of creating us and them scenarios, not a great way to work out solutions to complex problems. What do we have in common? We’re all human, we’re all imperfect, we all have our great moments and our shameful ones but we’re all Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

En la paz de Dios

Tom y Dianna Wilson

But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”