A Fruitful Time?

“There is a great difference between successful and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities.

A Time of Fruitfulness...

Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.” -Henri Nouwen

If you follow my updates on Facebook and the blog entries I write for Lybrook Community Ministries about living in Navajoland, you will already know that the past few weeks have been difficult.

  • Repeated electric brown-outs have fried appliances, including making my oven and my washing machine unreliable.
  • Modem issues and poor service led to a change of internet providers which caused chaos with our on-site network.
  • A friend who lives on-site took a bad fall with major injuries incapacitating her for a few weeks. We helped with animal care for that time and office work is still behind.
  • The mission truck was out of commission for a few weeks with costly repairs needed.
  • There is a huge (invisible) leak in our water lines meaning we only turn the water on for a

    ...water leaks and other challenges...

    short time each day to take showers, do laundry, and refill every bottle, pot, and pitcher with water to use throughout the day. (The backhoe guy is here today, trying to find the leak and finally fix it.)

  • Anna’s precious kitten has disappeared.
  • Repeated heavy rainstorms have made it difficult to get into and out of the remote canyon where Nettie is working. The bad roads have also prevented us from going in occasionally to help out with mustang taming.
  • Those same amusement-park drives on back roads took out the oil pan on our PT Cruiser which was our best bet for navigating slippery, pot-holed roads.
  • On-going requests for additional or repeated information from state agencies make getting EMT and education certifications and licenses a prolonged, frustrating process.
  • Our comfortable, familiar weekly schedule has changed—due to Randy’s teaching, Anna being in school, and Jakob’s youth-group-church changing class offerings. We still haven’t found a new workable schedule.
  • Randy is struggling to juggle teaching responsibilities (at local middle school and at community college in town) and still oversee most of the above maintenance issues of this property. He is exhausted…
  • Delays and rescheduling are typical out here…but it is still irritating when the volunteer fire department cancels meetings and the backhoe guy appears two days late, with no phone calls letting us know what is happening.

Are you still with me, even with all that whining? Good. Because that litany of frustrations, challenges, and complications is NOT the focus of this blog entry.

In talking with my sister yesterday, I discovered the underlying frustration I’ve been carrying. It feels like we are treading water, barely keeping afloat. We are at a cross-road for this ministry. We have finally identified a specific ministry focus. We need to follow-up with local leaders and local schools to define and refine the vision. We desperately need to begin the process of building a stable financial base for this mission, both for a transition period and for long-term ministry.

To be successful, there are things we need to be doing. To be successful doesn’t mean treading water. To be successful means there should be concrete projects finished and checked off the to-do list. This has certainly NOT been a time of success.

And as I whined and complained to my sister, she had a wise response. She challenged my perspective. She reminded me that this could well be the most fruitful time we have had here so far. Even when we don’t see it, others are looking at us. They are watching to see how we deal with challenges in life. We are still here. We have not given up. We are still reaching out to help others. This frustrating time might well be a very significant time.

For now it's fruit-salad...not steak.

Hmmm…it sure doesn’t FEEL significant. And it certainly doesn’t feel “good.” I’ve been pondering what my sister said, and I hope she’s right. I hope this really IS a fruitful time. (It certainly isn’t a “successful” time!)

I guess it’s time to make fruit-salad, rather than wishing for steak…