For those of you who have been following us for awhile, you will remember our neighbor - "Mr. Sunshine". If you have no idea who Sunshine is, see the original story by clicking here. Well, we have news on the Sunshine front...
HE SPEAKS! Yes, he speaks. We went on a walk with the dogs one evening and we passed his place. He happened to be outside working in the yard very close to the road. We waved and said hello, like always. Much to our surprise, Sunshine said, "Good afternoon. You going for a walk?"
I almost passed out! He spoke! You know that moment when something amazing happens and you are shocked, but you try to not let it register on your face because you are trying to maintain your composure? At that moment, my entire being was jumping up and down and having a party, while my exterior was just smiling and carrying on polite coversation in the street.
It was a short 'conversation'...like, it consisted of about three or four sentences of either side. It was obvious that he was struggling to just get that much out, so we didn't push it. We just chatted for a few moments, said our goodbyes, and continued on our walk. I wish I had a video of our faces as we walked away, because we were both completely astounded by what had just occured and trying to remain calm until we got around the corner and out of sight. It took a full YEAR to hear this man finally speak to us. Sometimes fruit takes a long time...
But wait! That's not all!
Sarah and a friend were walking the other day and they passed by Sunshine's place. He and his wife ('Mrs. Sunshine', equally as quiet and standoffish as the Mr.) were in the garden harvesting summer vegetables. Sunshine calls out, "Hey, do you like watermelon?"
"Yes, sir!", answered the two kids.
"Go get some bags", he says to his wife. "We'll send vegetables home with the kids."
Sarah and her friend returned to the house with two huge bags of peppers and cucumbers, zucchini and eggplant and tomatoes, and one giant watermelon! Sarah was so excited she was almost in tears. "You will NEVER believe where this came from!", she squealed. "SUNSHINE! Sunshine just picked all of this and sent it home with us!" We stood on the front steps in amazement as we watched Sarah and Dylan carry the bags and the melon up the walk. We all said a little thank you prayer for the change we are seeing in Sunshine's heart.
A little later in the day, we drove by and Sunshine was out in the yard. We stopped to say thank you for the veggies. He smiled real big and waved us off with, "it's nothing", then he turned his back and kept working in the yard, obviously uncomfortable with our show of gratitude and how to respond.
Sunshine's story is not over. It has taken a year to get to this point. It might take another year to build enough trust and confidence that he will share his real name with us.
I'm reminded that it took 2.5 years for people on the mountain in Peru to trust us enough to let us live in their village. It took Paulina many encounters before she admitted that she had given me a false name originally because she didn't know if she should trust me. So, it might take Sunshine a while. That's okay.
Poco a poco (little by little)... relationship is a stroll, not a sprint.
More food for thought:
Trusting in the Fruits - from Henri Nouwen's Bread for the Journey
We belong to a generation that wants to see the results of our work. We want to be productive and see with our own eyes what we have made. But that is not the way of God's Kingdom. Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results. Jesus himself died as a failure on a cross. There was no success there to be proud of. Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus' life is beyond any human measure. As faithful witnesses of Jesus we have to trust that our lives too will be fruitful, even though we cannot see their fruit. The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us.
What is important is how well we love. God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." - Galatians 6: 9 (NIV)
Back when Billy and I were teachers in the USA, summertime meant a time for a little rest and recoup, a time to recharge our batteries, a time to
go see family in far off places or take a vacation. As a teacher, many are also gearing up for the next school year, starting to look for new lessons,
new classroom management ideas, and new books for the students. As a mom, many spend lots of time trying to keep the peace, keep kids moving
and entertained and NOT sitting in front of the TV, and keep all of the family cool in the Texas heat.
For our family, summertime back then meant moving our base of operations to the Texas Mexico border. We were mission workers to the colonias
in Reynosa and Rio Bravo, Mexico. Our summers were spent in the Mexican desert heat, facilitating bible school in neighborhoods and helping
in a relief effort that built shelters for families that had none.
Nowadays, summertime looks a lot different. Our summers look a lot slower, which is a little odd for us. In our part of Spain, it is HOT! Most
homes do not have air conditioning. If they do, it is only in the living room ‐ not in the rest of the house. Spain is always serious about siesta
hours, but they are MEGA SERIOUS in the summer… absolutely nothing occurs between the hours of 2pm and 5 or 6pm because it is just too hot.
Last week, we hit 106. That’s hot, and with no air, it’s a killer. So, life here gets VERY slow in the summer. As for activities, there just aren’t many.
Many businesses and organizations cut their hours in the summer. Some only work until 2pm. Some close down completely for the
month of August. Most jobs, by law, require a one month vacation period. Unlike in the USA where vacation time is earned, vacation is mandatory
by law and is usually a full month. So, in our area, due to the heat, many decide to take their month in August and completely close their businesses,
giving all employees their mandatory one month then, as well. In July, people just try to survive the heat and hold on until August.
So, what does that mean to us? Well, yesterday in church, overall attendance was less than half. Our adult bible study class that we teach is
down by a third. Our youth class is down from 15 kids to 5. In August, there will be no classes at all and no ministry activities ‐ only Sunday service.
My Thursday bible study group is down to 3 ladies. Our Thursday morning group is off for the summer due to travel and kids out of school.
Basically, nothing is ’normal’ and everything feels out of whack. It messes with my work‐oriented mindset because I keep feeling like I’m not doing
enough. But then I remember that when I was teaching in Texas, this is what life looked like, too, and that was okay. So why do I feel like this
is NOT okay? The slower times are tough for me; it’s tough to slow down my rhythm and focus on what I can do and what is happening, and not
focus on what isn’t happening. Things ARE happening...
We just finished hosting a pastor on sabbatical and his family for several days as they came to visit us. Next week, we will be hosting a missionary family who work in an area with high security issues (so I can’t give
names or locations) as they come to spend some time in rest and relaxation, as well as a time of coaching and counseling and debriefing with us. We will also be helping them with dental appointments and doctor appointments
while they are here. Last night, we hosted a cookout and fellowship for other ministry workers who live in our area. So, part of our ministry in these summer months is not necessarily ‘local ministry’, but it is a ministry of caring for other ministry workers as they need rest and refreshment and a listening ear and a
community of other workers who understand their needs. Billy continues to meet weekly with local pastors and workers as a coach and counselor.
So, school is out and things feel a little slower, but there is definitely
still a lot going on in the summer!
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
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! 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 via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!