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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Unexpected Lent

This year's liturgical seasons have managed to catch me offguard. I tried to skip Advent, Christmas was a blur, and Epiphany was spent preparing for and traveling to Africa. The cycle has rolled on to Lent and again I'm caught unprepared. I mean - even this post is a few weeks late!

So, here I am in Africa.

About a week ago, I realized that this has been a Lenten journey, and in fact will most likely be a journey of just over 40 days: a time of prayer, fasting, and deprivation, but also of the joys of doing without and reliance on God's grace. A time of seeing how the majority of the world lives (seeing it, not truly experiencing it). A time of feeling far, far from "home" - spiritually and physically. A time of realizing that I really don't have as much control over my life as I'd like to think.

Early on we learned about the general African meal plan options: "010" (only a mid-day meal), "001" (only an evening meal), and "101" (breakfast and dinner). The heat saps your energy mid-day and seems to drain your appetite with it. So, we found ourselves suddenly on the "101" meal plan for quite a few weeks. Eventually, we managed to switch it up a bit, but eating more than two good meals still feels a little extravagant. If anything a very light lunch (of plantain chips or nuts and dried fruit) seems to do us just fine. I realized, "Hey, I'm fasting."

Everyday is a question as to what services we will have - will there be adequate water to bathe or do laundry? Will the internet (our vital and only connection with home) be operating? How about electricity - will it go out intermittently today? This last one is the least of our worries as travelers - most good hotels have back-up generators, so really, we haven't gone without electricity for more than a fifteen minutes or so. But it is disconcerting to wait and hope the generator does kick in...especially when sitting at a dining table in the pitch black! We are learning to do without something each day. And truly, these are minor situations. Well, maybe not the water when it is the 3rd day in a row with no real bath (remember we spend most of our days hot and sweaty unless we spend the entire day in our rooms which is miserable).

I've been challenged by wondering how much I really trust God to work out this situation. I know that he can...but waiting on his timing is difficult, especially when I see my kids getting more and more desperate to have their family reunited...and now that hubby is finally home, seeing my sweetheart having to deal with all the "catch up" of us being gone a month.

I've also learned a lot about how quickly I disintegrate into pessimism when the roadblocks begin to mount - of course that might be exacerbated by homesickness, cabin fever, and cultural adjustments.

We've done without so many things that make us feel comfortable and "at home": internet, freedom to come and go as we please, clean and crisp clothes (let's talk about how lovely a dryer is and how it nicely re-tightens fabric stretched out by humidity and sweat), and reliably getting what you want to eat or drink (I don't mean filet mignon here, I mean things like: coffee or a nice over-easy egg).

I don't mean to kvetch here - there have been many bright spots, just as there are in Lent. I've gotten to spend a month here with hubby getting to know our new daughter. We've also developed a friendship (tested by fire, trust me) with the other adoptive parents. This will be wonderful for both girls as they grow up. And now with Erik back home, I get a little more one-on-one time with L. It is hard at times (like when I MUST hold her while I'm trying to wash my hair in the laundry in the sink...get dressed, etc), but I think (and have been reassured) that I will look back on these days as a "blip". Or maybe a "bleeeeeeeeeep" - just a tad longer than a blip.

I've also discovered that having hours to sit and ponder doesn't necessarily help me gather my please forgive me if this is disjointed. It is what it is. I feel out of sorts and it is evident in this post, is it not?

Blessed Lent to you all - include our family in your prayers, if you are inclined! Specifically, that we would be uneventfully reunited on March 20th!

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Amy said...

Praying for you and your family as you all journey through this Lent - some together and some apart soon to be united. What an Easter this will be for you and yours!

MagistraCarminum said...

Continuing to keep you all in my prayers!

Renee said...

As Amy said, this Easter will be quite the celebration for you!!! This unplanned Lent might be the most productive yet!! God just has the way of redeeming it all doesn't he? You are in our prayers here!

DebD said...

what an amazing journey you are on. I'm sure it has produced much fruit in unexpected ways. Joyous Lent to you... and prayers for a safe return.