Thursday, December 15, 2011

Surprised by the “Oasis”



I wrote this while in Turkey a few weeks ago at a work conference coupled with some retreat days. I have had awful internet since then, so it will take a few blogs to catch up!


I am sitting at a sunny window in a beautiful Turkish styled chair of dark wood with round, red silk cushions. I am looking out a window on the terrace below with the sun beating in the window and warming my arms. In Niger we avoid direct sunlight and its heat, so this was a nice treat to be cool and feel the warmth of the suns rays. There are tables on the patio below with bright green grass around them and pine trees mixed with a few palm trees. In the background there is an abandoned pool, waiting for warmer weather when it will be filled with laughing children. It is bright blue water with a little wooden bridge crossing in the middle. Some ladies, mostly likely German based on the clientele I have seen so far at the hotel, are sitting around the pool in the chairs soaking up the sun and drinking their morning tea.

The name of our conference was the “Oasis”. This place does feel like an Oasis. Compared to the harsh bleakness and heat of Niger, it doesn’t take much! A place away from both the desert and heat and barren landscape of Niger and the spiritual and emotional drain there feels like an Oasis to my soul. Oddly enough, I find my emotions of joy and grief, and hope and despair are close to the surface. There is space and time and distance to process life, to pray in peace and to meet with others to talk who are in the same types of places and situations as us. We also have time and space to truly relax, to see beauty and to enjoy fun as a family.


I am surprised by how much I love beauty now. I think living in North America we become numb to it. We see grass everyday. We see flowers and rivers and beauty all around us in nature. There are wheat fields, mountains and fluffy clouds on bright blue skies. It just becomes normal. Now that is all 99% stripped away from my life and I find when I am in a place of nature’s beauty that it is overwhelming. It seems like such luxury to walk a tree lined walkway and bend down and smell the flowers. Or to sit on some rocks and the edge of the ocean with my iPod on a worship mix and hear the waves gently crashing mixed in with the music and see children running and laughing in the water. This probably sounds odd to the majority of you. You must think I am a little weird! But, when was the last time you stood in a park or garden and were truly overwhelmed by it’s beauty to the point of tears?

I am thankful for these rare times when we can get away and immerse ourselves in refreshment. As a family we live very simply in Niger so we can save and afford to get out of Niger on a retreat once a year. We need to be away from not only the harsh natural surroundings, but the heavy emotional and spiritual context with all the needs, poverty and demands. I guess it sounds weird to explain and I know that likely unless you have lived it that it is hard to understand.

This Oasis was great. We are thankful our team was invited to this event, and while the first half was a ton of work with super long days, we value all the training we got as well. We met a group of excellent people, also in difficult living situations, who were inspirational and we formed instant bonds with some of them.

I will write more soon with more pictures of Turkey, and some pictures from the 9 days vacation we took following that in France with just our family. But for now, go immerse yourself in beauty. Go to the Park, sit at a window, visit a conservatory, or go hike a mountain. Be thankful these things are around you and take the time to truly see them. Let them touch your heart and refresh your own batteries for life!


Di said...

Once again, I am inspired by your photos And the word pictures too. I woke up this morning disapointed that it did not snow as the weather man promised, after reading, I now sit and see the beauty in the rain. Thank you my friend.

Linda said...

Your words and thoughts blessed my heart. I spent a few days in Niger during my years in Africa and can just picture your life there. What a blessing for you to spend some time in Turkey and France!

My blog post today is about praying for missionary women like you who live surrounded by some harsh realities. Please know that you are a role model to me. Thank you for your ministries and your faith and commitment.