Thorns and roses is one of our family traditions. At the end of the day, or trip, or event, everyone gathers together and shares a thorn from the day, paired with a rose. A thorn is some bad part of the day, a low point. The rose is a bright part of your day, that made you smile and brought you joy. Sometimes we add rosebuds, something you are looking forward to tomorrow or in the near future. It is not a nightly ritual, but we do it often enough that the children enjoy it, and are even becoming better about sharing and being thoughtful.
The thing with Mission work is, sometimes it is difficult to notice the roses when your hand is gripped so tightly around the thorns. In a day full of uplifting experiences, it is often the frustrating class or the annoying or baffling interaction that I come home talking about. Sometimes I just want to vent, but that venting can become tunnel vision focused on the thorns.
Of course, this isn't true just for mission life, it is true for life in general. (Thought: for a Christian, can there be anything BUT mission life?).
So, it's good to recognize the frustrating thorns AND the beautiful roses, everyday. So, here are a couple of my own "Thorns and Roses" from recent weeks, and a few rosebuds:
-Schedule disruptions that nobody else seems surprised or bothered by;
-"White man price," where vendors assume that just because I CAN pay a higher price, I will;
-When the water goes out at the same time your whole family gets a nasty stomach bug;
-I am continually amazed at the beauty of Kumbo and the NW region;
-Shopping for fabric and having clothes tailor made is pretty fun;
-Getting to know the people here and building relationships with them, and catching a glimpse into their lives;
-Getting email, snail mail, and even the occasional package from friends and family back home. Thank you so much! We have written many response letters, please be patient with us and the mail!
-Spur-of-the moment Philly Cheese Steak parties, with last-minute dashing off to find ingredients, and replete with surprise guests who turn it into a birthday party. It was actually our second accidental birthday in a week. we seem to be adept at having people over, then having someone else show up whose birthday it is.
-Getting to know Falan, a friend of my deceased brother who was in Kumbo for a month at Shisong, through Dr. Ellen Dailor, who is here through Mission Doctors Association, which is the sister organization to Lay Mission Helpers. Got all that? It's not quite," My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night," but it is close;
-I recently obtained a Lamnso' primer, and it is very helpful in learning the language;
-Our friend Sara, from New Mexico, will be visiting over Christmas!