What might have been,
what might arrive
on these bright shores,
we never grasp.
For we are endowed
this precious island
in constant current,
small and ignorant,
and blind to beyond
the mystery . . .
I penned these lines upon our arrival in Vanuatu, and after more than a year has passed, they have taken on a sort of prophetic significance. It is as if God were preparing us for what lay ahead. We had no idea of the trials that awaited us. Now we have endured storms. We have been shaken to the core. And by the grace of God we are standing in his strength.
The end of the poem has served and still serves as our exhortation:
. . . With open hands
await the tide
the One who is.
We’ve been in Vanuatu for a month now, and it’s all I can do to form complete thoughts in complete sentences–so much information to process, language to learn, people to get to know, ocean to admire. But I’ve had my nap today, so I’ll give it a try.
For quite a while, Ryan and I have, in a big sense, felt like we were living in the in-between: in between hearing God’s call on our lives and seeing it realized in a tangible, geographical place. The last year and a half especially has involved so much dreaming, praying, planning, studying, moving. So much moving. Of course there was life all along the way, with hardly a dull moment, but we were always anticipating this move to the South Pacific. We talked about it so much for so long that it sometimes felt surreal.
But we’re here!
And we’ve started our first job of re-orienting ourselves to a new culture, language, climate, community, hemisphere. Everything is different, but not in a surprising way. We knew these changes were coming; we’ve been waiting and planning for them. It feels less like “shock” as they say in your cross-cultural communication books and more like riding waves.
Last week, a 7.3 earthquake rocked us back and forth and all around for a good minute. I was alone inside our house on a hill, and I planted my feet as I watched things rattle, and I said aloud, “Please stop.” It felt like this house was rising and falling on top of ocean waves as it shook, not knowing when or where to settle, totally at the mercy of shifting tectonic plates.
It sounds dramatic I realize, but that’s a little how life feels at the moment. Not so much the fear in that minute, but definitely the rush of adrenaline, the waiting for the settling down, the acknowledgement of our lack of control. Unlike the earthquake moment, though, there is a lot of joy in these days, thankfulness that wells up in us to the One who has provided and brought us to such a beautiful place. There is also some fatigue, afternoon naps that come from re-learning how to do a whole lot of basic things, like talking. Though in a big sense, we are through with the “in-between,” we still find ourselves adjusting, clinging to joy, strength, and Truth who is always with us, waiting to feel at home. But when we’re honest, aren’t we always, in some way, waiting to feel at home?