Thursday, December 13, 2007

can't seem to escape this theme of fish.

gouyave is known as the town that never sleeps. as well as the fishing capital of grenada. so a street festival centered around fish is perfect for this little sea town. grencoda, the organization i'm working with, helps coordinate the guoyave fish friday festival every week. people from all over come to check it out. its becoming a source of income and pride for local folks in gouyave. and recently i have had the joy of being involved with it in a couple of different ways.

one way is through music. i've managed to learn a little steel pan while i've been down here. joined the grand roy pan angels. during the christmas season - november and december - we've been playing at fish friday every other week. last week was one of my most favorite performances. despite the rain, crowds came out. joyful christmas songs. lots of dancing and energy. a delight to simply be a part of it all. danley, my co-worker at grencoda made sure to snap a few pictures of me playing...

as i typically do, during a break from playing pan, i walked around the small festival - i love this part too - greeting the different vendors selling fish. during the last couple months, i've gotten to know many of the fish vendors through a basic computer class i've been helping with. the computer class was just one component of a vendor training course that grencoda sponsored. for about eight weeks, i taught a small class and assisted with another one. i think i like teaching adults. especially adults that are interested. and motivated to learn. these vendors came a long way in their understanding of computers. and it was a joy to be a part of their learning.

as i was passing by miss eslyn's booth last friday, she beamed and motioned for me to wait on her. she came out of her booth and embraced me with the most sincere, beautiful hug. she had been sick. hadn't been to class in the last week. told her i had missed her. often times eslyn required much patience. needing words spelled. needing things pointed out. and i got to work with her one on one a lot during the course. and in that moment - that hug - i knew the course had meant something to her. she gave me a necklace made of local spices. she was selling them. but gave me one as a gift. i put it on and wore it the rest of the night. taking in the scent of grenada. thankful for the chance to know eslyn. i bought some fried fish and bakes from her and made my rounds visiting the other vendors.

our computer classes were officially over this past tuesday. the end of the training course was celebrated with a small graduation ceremony. the vendors got all dressed up. they were so proud. and i was so proud of them. the metaphor of teaching a person to fish, rather than giving a person a fish was emphasized throughout the program. always heard that as a chinese proverb. but it certainly has grenadian relevance. especially in gouyave. especially in fish friday. and although somedays i wonder how i am contributing to justice, i realized that grencoda is an organization that seeks to empower, that seeks to equip, that seeks to uphold dignity. and i was thankful to be a part of an organization with that vision. and we don't get it perfect. and progress is slow. but we keep trying. keep seeking justice. and i pray that we might be apart of the justice that God is doing. and i'm thankful that we don't have to do justice on our own.

after the ceremony, the vendors had eats and drinks and fellowship. it was a joyous celebration. i'll miss these folks. especially that faithful trio from my class - binta, anna, and mr. benjamin. but i know where to find them on friday nights. next week we're playing pan again. and then the next, my family will get to experience the magic of fish friday for themselves.

that's right. the huggins will be having a grenadian christmas.

Friday, December 7, 2007

the right place at the right time.

i keep seeing rainbows. as the sunshine and rain so often coexist these grenadian days. sunshine and rain in perfect harmony. creating this image of fleeting beauty. revealing the hidden colors that are always present, but not always visible. and my soul rejoices in the moment. in the light that illuminates. the rain that restores. and the beauty that immerges from their union.

i try to take pictures. yet they fail to fully capture the beauty. lessons that life must be embraced. experienced. firsthand. in the moments we are given. in the places where we are.

and i give thanks to be at the right place at the right time. to catch the rainbow. before it fades away. and i wonder if there is such a thing as the right place at the right time. why do moments in our lives fall into place as they do? do things just happen? or is there Something guiding all of this? why do our souls awake to particular moments of beauty? are there certain things we must inevitably experience on this journey?

a couple of times recently i found myself at the right place at the right time. after a day of learning to bake cake and bread from scratch with my dear neighbor glenda, i decided to venture down the road for a sea bath. i had barely reached the shore when excitement commenced. fish were obviously jumping around in an area not far from shore. those on the shore were shouting out to the fishermen in their boats. the fishermen quickly circled the area. dropping their nets. some from the shore swam out to help. others started pulling in the nets. i asked if i could help too. and they let me.

as always, word spread. more and more people gathered in hopes of acquiring fish. i pulled with all i could. in rhythm with the others. hands stinging from the rope and salt water. nearly a week later, the blisters on my hands are still healing.
it was quite a catch. much different from the last time i helped haul nets. an abundance of large fish. and apparently the rule is if you help haul, you get fish. which wasn't my intention. i was just thrilled to get to participate. but a lady named judy made sure i got my fish. she made sure i got two. and we're not talking one-serving-sized-fish. we're talking at least five or six pounds of fish. each.

so judy and i headed up the road. with my heavy fish in hand. she recruited some of my neighbors to help clean it. then she returned to the sea to claim her own. tolo and aj cleaned my giant fish. although i've adapted to many grenadian ways. my stomach hasn't quite adapted to the idea of cleaning out the yucky fish insides. my neighbors cut up the fish. helped me season some. freeze some. it was too late to start cooking. and they said i would have fish to feed my family at christmas now.

i felt as if i was the recipient of undeserved generosity. sure i pulled nets. but i was given abundantly more than i needed. i felt loved. and taken care of. the sea had provided for the people once again. and there was more than enough for everyone. and there was much celebration.
the next morning, i went to church. first sunday in advent. no advent wreath this year. a simple service. six of us. prayers. and hymns. and scripture. and the congregation reflecting together on the lectionary. discussions of peace. of being awake to what God is doing.

glenda and daisy had asked me to go with them to a special gathering of all the baptist congregations the same morning. i had made a commitment to help with the service at the methodist church. but they assured me that they would be passing through gouyave on the way to sauteurs and could pick me up after the seven o clock service was over. it sounded like fun. so i decided if i happened to be on the street when the bus passed by, i just might hop on and go.

sure enough, i was at the right place at the right time again. waiting for a bus to go back home, a large bus heading north, the opposite direction, came flying through. i saw familiar faces on the bus and someone called out, "abby!" i realized it was the bus full of baptists. they stopped for me. and i jumped on the bus. knowing more people on the bus than i realized i would. stephon. glenda. daisy. aj. tolo. kedra. oslyn. shakira. judy. and i went to sauteurs to a day of singing. and eating. and preaching. and it was a long day. but a joy to worship alongside people from my community. and though i'm not theoloically aligned with everything that was said, i appreciated the time to just worship. and the message centered around going beyond the walls of the church. an idea i think about a lot.

again, i felt loved. and included. and a part of things. and maybe my day spent back in grand roy would have also yielded moments of beauty. but the bus and i crossed paths at just the right time for me to hop on and go.

God of wisdom. guide our moments. guide our days. you know what our souls need. teach us what you are wanting us to learn. awake our spirits to your presence. to your beauty. and may we trust in you. trust in where we are. trust in who we are. trust that you are transforming us into who you have created us to be. through these moments. on this journey.

and thank you for the rainbows.