Sometimes, progress is barely perceivable. Sometimes, we're just looking for BNIs - barely noticeable improvements. Tiny glimmers that let us know that something is changing.
When we moved to our current house, we were excited to be out amongst farmers again. It seems to be our 'place' in life. We just seem to love being around the soil, the crops, animals, and plain country folks. We loved and missed that part of our lives from Peru. So moving to this house in between a wheat field and a field of beans and an asparagus crop felt perfect. And we met the farmer and his family next door. Great people! Instant love.
However, not everyone is super welcoming and warm. Quite the opposite for one farmer man who lives on our road. We pass him several times a day. He wears the same grumpy gruff facial expression each time. Never changes. Never smiles. Kind-of an Eeyore-type, only he appears more irritated than depressed. Almost as if just your meer presence in this world is a problem for him.
Nevertheless, we wave. We wave at him and smile. Every time. No matter what. Sarah and I stopped to talk to him once about some kittens that were at his gate, but we were not exactly met with warm glowing hugs and love. We were definitely not feeling the hospitality. Still, we smiled and thanked him, and waved as we left.
We affectionately named him "Mr. Sunshine". Not to his face, of course. We don't know his name. He hasn't shared that information with us. But in our car each day, we wave to "Mr. Sunshine" and smile a greeting in his direction. Every day. Every day. Every day.
Then one day, we saw it. A BNI - barely noticable improvement. A twitch of his hand in response to the wave. A very subtle tiny flick of the hand.
That was all we needed! The challenge was now on! We took it on as a family project. "We are going to get Mr. Sunshine to soften up if it kills us!"
We continued to wave a smile. Every day. Each time we pass his place. Each time we see him in his vehicle. Each time he walks down the road. Wave. Smile. Nod the head in his direction. Every time, we do it with the enthusiasm that says, "Hey! Sunshine! Great to see you again!"
I'm sure he thinks we're nuts.
Again, we saw it. BNI. A half-raised arm wave. Whoa!!! There may have been some shrieks of "wow!" and some cheering in the car.
Each time we saw a little improvement, we were more determined.
So now, nine months later, we are up to a full-arm over the head wave. Real acknowledgement! Honest to Goodness waving! On a good day, there is even a head nod. Progress.
I have dreams that one day Mr. Sunshine will actually smile. I'm hoping for an actual conversation one day. Maybe even grow in to his Mr. Sunshine name. Some folks are just slow to warm up. But for now, I'm celebrating the BNIs.
Sometimes, building relationships is about a wave and a smile - every day, every day, every day - and patience.
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!