Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vineyards (and our flowers)

After being here at Isamilo International School for a month now, I've just been introduced to my “new” office this morning; a tiny room located next to the main entrance of the Wiggins Library.  There’s a nice big window in front of me that lets in plenty of natural light and air.  It gives me a view of the library door to the left and a narrow view straight ahead between two buildings that shows a few banana trees by the school yard fence.  I can hear the voices of teachers and the chatter of students coming from the two story building of classrooms on my right. The buildings are of solid concrete walls, painted yellow and white, with hand-made tropical hardwood doors.  This office was vacated by the athletics' coach, who moved over to a renovated room near the gym, and it’s still filled with various sports and camping equipment.  I told him not to worry about it; I’m just glad to have a place that is now officially the “Chaplain’s Office”.  At least, I’m out of the teacher’s break room and have a small desk of my own.  My prayer is that the students and staff will feel welcome to stop in, to chat and to allow me to be a part of their lives.  It is a challenge for me to know how I can fit into the routine here, but I trust that God will show the way.

Challenges come to us in many ways in this life; often in a manner that is unexpected.  Many of the situations that one would think to be a problem for us as missionaries are not really an issue.  It’s the “little”, unexpected situations and events that come along in daily life that can be a challenge to handle properly.  I call them the “little foxes”, from the Bible verse which says, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”  (Song of Songs 2:15)  It’s surprising how many of these little foxes can show up in a day, resulting in stresses and a loss of inner peace.  Of course, it’s not the fault of the little foxes; it’s our own reaction to those situations that causes our inner stress.

For example, I am thinking of one of the most uncontrollable, destructive forces on the planet earth:  undisciplined 4 – 6 year old boys!  Oh my!  They are incredible!  Let me explain. 

When we arrived here in November, I was excited about renovating and improving our home place here.  It was nice to see that our friends had planted slips of bushes all around the house.  The grass had been cleared away and large stones lined both sides of the new plantings.  We dug a small garden in the back yard, lined it with stones also, and planted some vegetables.  I brought in some top soil and planted a small garden by our front door.  There were some nice flowering plants already growing along the front of the house.  On both sides of the house are a couple of lemon and tangerine trees, which made our mouths water thinking about the ripening fruit.

Guess what happened.  Yup, you got it – the little foxes, ah, I mean, the little boys happened to them!  There are a number of young boys in our neighborhood who are not yet in school, whose parents have to work away, and there are no babysitters.  These small boys wander around all day; bored, undisciplined, and trying to entertain themselves.  And so, they trampled the bushes, pulled out the young bean plants, stole the border stones, tore up the flowers, broke off tree branches, and ate the fruit while it was still green and hard.

They march into our house making too much noise, demanding bananas, dropping peels on the floor, swipe our flip flops, scribble in our books, drag trash into our yard, poke holes in our screens, throw mud on the front door, and run away laughing when one tries to stop them.  There’s no use trying to catch them: they are too fast.  It’s amazing how quick those skinny little legs can go.  And what would I do with them if I caught them anyways?  Give them a good whipping? That’s what the local adults would do, when they can catch the little rascals.  I refuse to attempt that method of discipline.  Not that it wouldn't produce some results; but I refuse to make a fool of myself running after small, giggling boys with a stick.  It would be nicely entertaining for them, and an enjoyable diversion for their boring day.

And then, those little foxes will wander in some mornings, all cheerful, looking at us with those big, innocent eyes – and melt our hearts on the spot.  How can we possibly have any stern words for those good natured grins looking up at us?!  We don’t have the right Swahili vocabulary anyways.  So we give up and give them their customary morning banana along with a hug and a pat on the back.  “Yes, Yes.  Good Morning to you!  Good to see you!  You’re welcome!  Yes, you can look at that book.  Would you like some tea?  Sure, you can add more sugar."

What was I so disturbed about last night? Oh well, it’s OK; not that big of a deal.  No use getting stressed out about the little things.  God is good and life is good; and we really do love those little foxes, I mean, those little boys whom the Lord has placed in our lives.  They have so much to teach us, if we are willing to listen and learn!

We can get stressed out about those little foxes in our lives, thus aiding them in spoiling our vineyards.  Or we can accept, and even love them:  to discover that the Lord has turned our water has into wine.

Forward in Joy,
Brother Nathan

1 comment:

SD said...

I miss those faces!