Friday, January 25, 2008

an abundance of mangoes.

i can't pray for just me. i must pray for us.

that's what miss hilda told me this morning. miss hilda who believes God is going to restore her sight and allow her to walk again. who says her faith has kept her alive. miss hilda who is somewhat taken care of by her daughter, a struggling single mom. but ignored by much of her family.

her bible was laying on the floor, open to psalms this morning when i stopped by. and i know she can't see well enough to read. she said she leaves it open sometimes. just in case someone comes by and wants to read to her. i asked her if she wanted me to read. yes, thanks. asked her what she wanted to hear. anything. its all God's word she said. and i didn't know what to choose. somehow, sticking with the psalms, i found my way to psalm 139. the one that grandpa loves. the one that i know songs from. the one that speaks of a God who knows us intimately. whose spirit we cannot flee from. who is too wonderful for us to consider. and me and miss hilda agreed that it was a good one. comforting. and true.

passed by miss hilda on my morning walk through the neighborhood. stayed a little longer than usual. rejected the temptation to be in a hurry. its better to soak in moments. to honor people. rather than rush off to something that may or not be as meaningful.

was nice to take my time going through grand roy today. i feel as though i've been pretty absent from the neighborhood this week. but that's because i've been spending my days walking through other communities.

as grencoda staff, we've been visiting each of the communities we work alongside. walking around. making observations. talking with folks. listening to folks. our intention is to get an idea of what people know of grencoda. of how grencoda is doing. how we could improve. and what people see as needs in their community. we're doing all of this before we sit down and plan for the year. striving to let the voices in the communities guide what we do. being intentional about working with rather than working for. sometimes we deviate from our purpose, though. to spend a few extra moments with an elderly couple whose children hardly visit. to offer encouragement to young kids in secondary school. to de-mace nutmeg. to shell peas. to sit with people. to be with people. and though we do have ground to cover (some of these villages are quite large). its nice to soak in moments. to honor people. to be present.

and people keep giving us mangoes. and cashews. and figs. and manderines. and i've eaten enough fruit to last me through easter.

beyond the walk-throughs, we've also met with community representatives in the evenings to at least begin to dialogue the issues we heard raised. "idle youth on the block." unemployment. skills training. mentoring programs. housing issues. agricultural support. community centers. roads. neglect from the government. lack of unity. partisan politics dividing the country. dividing the communities. and somehow i got recruited to take notes. so i had to play close attention. and though i still don't understand the background and context of everything, i feel as though i learned so much. about what is going on in these communities. about the need to rise above division and come together. about the need to work for justice. for sustainability. for dignity. and although i haven't really contributed all that much i've been taking in more than i realize. and i'm thankful that there is plenty to learn. and i'm thankful to be a part of this. and i'm thankful to work with people who deeply believe in empowerment. who sincerly try to listen. and its all overwhelming. all that needs to be done. compared with what realistically will get done. especially on grenada time. but i continue to pray for a unity with God's spirit. that He is guiding all of this. that He is guiding all of us. we're in this together. not me alone. not you alone. but us.

i can't pray for just me. i must pray for us.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


after last minute cleaning and baking and christmas preparation i hopped a bus to town to meet lester the taxi driver. we had plans to pick up some very special christmas guests at the airport. st. george's was the busiest i've ever seen. everyone out shopping. just like most places, commercialism has invaded christmas here in grenada too. we arrived at the airport early. with plenty of time to sit in anticipation. last time i was here was when i arrived four months ago. it was night then too. the difference now was the christmas lights strung all around. welcoming everyone to a grenadian christmas. shortly after eight o'clock, folks started emerging off the plane. eventually, three folks that look a lot like me came through the doors. mom. dad. and andrew. met them with hugs and kisses. hardly believing these two worlds were merging. so happy my family had finally arrived. the only thing missing was andrew's suitcase. circling around some conveyor belt in puerto rico. turns out that was maybe a good thing as lester's little trunk was overflowing from just mom and dad's stuff. we hopped in the taxi. dad in the front. mom, andrew, and i squeezed in the back. everyone wide eyed. taking in the christmas lights. the huggins business signs (yes there are other huggins in grenada. pretty crazy). admiring lester's grenadian accent as he pointed out places along the way. we arrived safely in grand roy. greeted by a few of the neighbors. settled in upstairs. ate peanut butter sandwiches with homemade guava jelly and drank the peppermint tea mom had sent in a care package weeks ago. as i laid down to sleep beside mom, i offered thanks for the chance to share this grenadian life with them. a prayer that became habitual during their stay here.

homemade bread, ham, and sorrel for breakfast. followed by christmas mass. beautiful, spirit filled music. people went out of their way to welcome my family. grenadian christmas lunch. baked fish. callilou. pumpkin. boiled corn. fruit cake. an afternoon of bathing in the sea. visiting with the neighbors. playing in the street with the kids. exchanging a few christmas gifts. andrew's suitcase came about ten o'clock at night. now he could finally change out of that key club t-shirt. a christmas day unlike any before. one that mom said we would always remember.

boxing day involved street cricket. and walks through the neighborhood. and a rough swim in the sea. another day to simply be a part of grand roy. other days we rode around the island with mary-theresa, took in the concord waterfalls with elisha, viewed the western coast from a motorboat with kimo and jacko, swam in the clear waters at grand anse beach, enjoyed fish kabobs and fishcakes at fish friday, walked around st. george's, heard steel pan music, ate grendian's national dish of oil down, realized a week isn't long enough to take in all of grenada.

some of my favorite moments were simple things. like chatting in the mornings with dad before mom and andrew were awake. seeing him give fatherly attention to the kids that would hang around. listening to the avett brothers and 90's rock cds with my brother. watching him naturally play football or cricket or with the neighborhood kids. teaching mom to make passion fruit juice and grenadian dishes. falling asleep talking to her, waking up beside her. sharing these moments, this place, this life, with all three of them.

the last day they were in grand roy, we went on a spontaneous hike through the bush, up to the top of a hill that overlooks grand roy. me and kimo and andrew and more kids than i can count. it was a wonderful last minute adventure. a change in perspective. to look down and see all that is grand roy. now when i talk of grand roy. of grenada. of the people here. my family will understand. their perspective has changed. they came to see. came to live as grenadians. at least for a week. and everyone here bets they'll be back again.

as for me, i'm striving to appreciate this place, these moments, this family here. wondering what this new year will hold. praying for openness. for guidance. for patience. for union with that divine spirit so mysteriously incarnate within us. and among us.