June 27, 2012

Living lives of passion and purpose

Woodland 2012 HANDS Team:

For many years the novel studied in Gr 11 English at Woodland was Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge.  Despite its greatness, it begins with as bleak a picture of life as any I can remember.   On a hot summer day where everything is so uninspiring that even the English song birds could do little more than wearily repeat the sorry tunes of their species, a couple appears on a19th century country  road.  Like the song birds, they are described as tired and silent, plodding wearily down the lane.  As their lack of communication continues, Hardy makes the horrible statement that obviously the two were married for nothing else could account for the air of stale familiarity that enveloped them.  While it was not his first indictment of the institution of marriage, it was probably his most damning.

Unfortunately that 'air of stale familiarity' is something that settles like a fog on many aspects of our lives.  The routines of being students and teachers are familiar and functional but they can easily become very stale.  We stop seeing the people around us as fearfully and wonderfully made and instead begin to fear the choices they might make and shake our heads in ‘wonder’ when those choices inconvience or infuriate us.  The vibrancy that we want to experience in our relationships, our work and our worship wanes, and soon we too are plodding down the lanes of our lives.  It is never intentional, but it is as common as mud.

Very happily this week our team has had no experience with the stale or familiar.  We have found ourselves in a culture and geography that is as different from our own as is possible.  The vast coastal lowlands filled with mangrove swamps that surround Belize City have no parallel in Dorking, Clyde or Guelph.  The sights, smells and sounds of the community are equally foreign.  The people we have worked with are commonly trilingual, slipping between English, Spanish and Creole with complete ease.  Finally while we have met and worked with people of Spanish, Indian and African ancestry, the only people with a Dutch background that we have met came with us from Woodland.

Overall this has been an exciting week.  10 years ago the plot of land that now holds a church and school was a mangrove swamp.  4 years ago construction began on the current school building and today 231 children from the community now have the opportunity to get a Christian education.   People of great vision like Pastor Betson saw a need while standing in a swamp a decade ago.  Work teams from across Canada and the United States caught that vision and the result is inspiring and humbling.  One of Pastor Betson’s favourite phrases is “its a blessing.”  It is impossible to see what has happened here in Belize City and not feel the truth of those words.

Today we make the long trek home.  We return to the routines of our lives in Southern Ontario and that is very good.  As we do so, we pray that we do not settle into the stale and familiar patterns of our lives once again.  We have met and we have been people of passion and purpose.  With God’s blessing, we pray that that continues for years to come. 





J Berends
Jun 27, 2012 at 9:24 am

Thanks for your posts throughout the week, Wayne.

This last post is wonderful to read.

Glad you and these young men had this experience.

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