My country coordinator encouraged us to say "YES!" to every invitation, especially in our first months. When I first heard this advice I thought, "ha, not a problem!" Those of you who know me well know I have a much harder time saying no. I can often rather delusionally believe I can take on anything and everything while not only maintaining my sanity but also doing it well. However, when you have been plopped down in the middle of a new culture full of new people to meet and even given a new job, the physical and mental exhaustion can be overwhelming. In moments when I would have usually jumped at the opportunity to join, I have found just a little part of myself wanting to say no. It's a strange feeling. While I certainly want to participate the exhausted part of me just wants rest. However, another strange phenomena has occurred every time I have said yes against my body's wishes. In the moments I have said yes, even though I did not go take a nap, I have found rest.
This week during fellowship ( a time when all of the teachers come together to sing songs, study the bible, and pray) Tracy was our leader and she passed out bookmarks which read, "I will not be a workaholic" and had a verse from Psalms which goes "it's useless to rise early and go to bed late and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don't you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?" (Psalm 127:2) Workaholic....story of my life. I am always over committing myself and am an insanely perfectionistic person. It was a great reminder that I do need to be aware of my physical needs. We discussed ants as imagery for the workaholic as they always seem
busy. This works nicely as a daily reminder for me because almost daily
I have found one or two tiny little ants darting under the keys of my
keyboard and out with a little crumb. Apparently I had dinner while
studying a few too many times during college. However, the thing about ants
is they are almost never alone. They always seem to be working but
they always seem to be working together. This made me question the definition of rest. Perhaps sometimes sleep is what we need and is exactly what God gives us. However, perhaps sometimes he gives us invitations to participate in living life intentionally as rest. Perhaps he gives us moments full of life and in community with people, which may energize us more than sleep could. Our country coordinator also sent us a link to The Holstee Manifesto, an inspirational video about one company's empowering philosophy that, "Life is about the people that you meet and the things you create with them." Our YAGM year is also very much about this philosophy. Thus far in my own YAGM journey, it has been the moments created from spending time with my new friends, which has given me energy and in that energy rest.
I said yes when Tracy, one of the teachers who picked me up to take me to Grace Center for the first time, invited me to go to McDonald's with her and some other women. We ate fries and chicken burgers, food quite familiar to both of us, while getting to know each other across a lanugage barrier.
I said yes when some new friends we met at church invited us to lunch and dinner and a movie later on and found another community of wonderful people to know during my time in KK. They are all apart of the youth group which includes young adults and their energy and ability to fearlessly always be themselves reminds me so much of CLC's youth group.
A few nights ago I was going to attempt to actually cook something for the first time in Malaysia and I was making spaghetti. I got the noodles boiling before realizing I was going to need a can opener and I had no idea where to find one. I asked my friends Bella and Sophia if they knew where one was and they helped me look for awhile before we all gave up. However, they were not as ready to quit as I was and they began determinedly trying to tap a knife around the edge of the can. Despite their heroic efforts it wasn't going well. We asked Nuria (the music teacher) if she knew where one was and though she did not she proceeded to open the can effortlessly by placing the knife into the edge of the can and banging the can on the counter. It was like magic. After I finished making my spaghetti, I invited all of my helpers to take some. Luckily I had made enough for four people, though I had intended to make enough for just myself. Nuria then asked me to listen to the song she wrote, which was beautiful and she even taught me how to sing a song in Malay. I felt so incredibly happy because it had been such a beautiful afternoon spent in my community.
Later on that same night, Nuria had invited me to go to fellowship in Donggongon. We walked under the stars by the light of the "torchlight" setting on my new handphone (old school cell phone) through hills of dirt and a jungley path into the community nearby. We were welcomed into a family's home where the living room was cleared out and chairs were lined up all the way around the room. People of all ages filled the room and we sang beautiful songs, heard the word of God (though it was in Malay, Nuria translated for me later on), and of course had snacks. Milo (my favorite hot-chocolate like drink!) and some chocolate pastry sort of deserts. It was a wonderful night of living among God's people.
I said yes when my Korean friends Bella and Sophia offered to share some fruit with me. We ate mangosteen (queen of fruit in Malaysia) and another fruit I don't remember the name of. The fruit was delicious and as I have been finding more and more food is a great way of breaking language barriers. I have learned a lot more about Bella and Sophia thanks to sharing food or meals together. I learned that Bella and Sophia are actually their English names, learned about their internship here at Grace Center, and learned about Korean food of course (all of which I have tried has been delicious).
I said yes when I was working late in the office and my students asked me to play volleyball (bola tampar, directly translated being slap ball). I not only gained some student buy-in but I also learned what sort of foods I should try. Are you seeing a theme with food here? They also explained that though they don't get picked up until 6:10 pm (school gets out at 4 pm), they don't get home until 10 pm and I got a glimpse into the lives of my students.
These are the ordinary moments God has turned into rest for me. These are what gets me through the week when I feel exhausted and tired of adjusting. These are what my time here is about. I am learning to create beautiful moments out of nothing but accepting invitations weather great or small. Tonight I am invited to a birthday party. I cannot wait to see what beautiful moments are in store.